Though not very big, and not a true point guard, Darius Johnson-Odom plays with an at-times dominant dynamic that he hopes will outshine his average floor game en route to a 2nd round selection this Thursday.
In a draft class that seems to be filling up with more and more draftable "combo" guards by the day, Johnson-Odom would appear to be another big-time shot-making guard who lacks the size necessary to be a premiere shooting guard, and therefore better-suited to play the point. Herein lies the problem with DJO's draft prospects, since he doesn't possess the kind of creativity or elite ballhandling skills that are usually necessary of a player his size. But he makes up for it in other ways, most notably by being a very dangerous shooter capable of creating his own shot. Though he doesn't use it enough to break down defenses and create easy scores for others, he still has a very good, powerful first step which he uses to set up his pull-up and step-back jumpers. His one-dribble pullup seems to be NBA-ready and he has good crossover and hesitation moves, but despite his decent form and good follow-through, he doesn't always utilize his considerable leaping ability on "normal", non-dunking shot attempts. This has led to a somewhat flat shot, and at times, ineffective production once he gets inside. One would like to see a player with a 41.5'' vertical hang in the air longer to finish in the lane, or even via the fadeaway, but at least he finishes with dunks whenever given the chance, and that's more than you can say for just about any other 6'1'' guard.
That leaping ability is part of a package that makes Johnson-Odom one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in his class. In addition to a decent 6'6'' wingspan, DJO recently shined in combine drills that featured lane agility, 3-quarter court sprint, and the bench press. His athletic gifts make him a tough assignment in the halfcourt, since he's capable of running his man ragged off the ball and can keep defenders off balance in iso situations with his quickness and a powerful dribble.
His athleticism also allows DJO to be a tough defender in one-on-one situations and he fights through screens well, which should help in the pick-and-roll at the next level. Concerns would have to be his ability to contest shots against most starting-caliber SG's, but luckily for him, he's quick enough to guard the point and/or the smaller backup scoring guards who are becoming more common on most team's benches.
Another thing that could help DJO's stock is the fact that he has always played an unselfish game despite his considerable shooting skill and athletic gifts. Many other guards in this class with comparable one-on-one ability embrace every opportunity to shoot, but Johnson-Odom is cognizant enough to recognize cutters even after he's put in the work on the perimeter to get himself open. On a balanced Marquette team that featured several capable perimeter players on offense, it's possible that Johnson-Odom could've looked like a more natural point guard if the Golden Eagles needed him to be one.
With just days remaining before the draft, DJO's draft potential would seem to hinge largely on some of the unknown and potential intrigue surrounding his game. A 45% shooter with 39% 3-point range isn't exactly hard to come by in this draft class, but if a team thinks his shooting mechanics can become a bit more vertical and his floor game has more to it than meets the eye, it wouldn't be a shock to see him drafted, perhaps even in the top 40. He has the kind of intangibles and leadership that might suggest a late-blooming scoring point guard perfect for some team's bench, and if he goes undrafted, it's still likely that he could find his way onto a roster some day if he exhibits those abilities elsewhere.
|Rank||42nd overall (11th SG)|
|Projection||Mid 2nd round|
Lacks true position