Jalen Johnson emerged from the Las Vegas Summer League as one of the top first-year players, and the Atlanta Hawks forward believes that is no coincidence.
Johnson was named to the All-Summer League first team after averaging 19 points, 9.5 rebounds, two assists and 1.3 blocked shots in four appearances with the Hawks. He produced three double-doubles and had two 20-point outings in Las Vegas.
The 6-foot-9 forward was projected by some to be a lottery pick in the draft but ultimately fell to the Hawks at 20. He left Duke early last season after suffering a foot injury that limited him to 13 games and likely dropped as a result.
However, Johnson isn’t concerned with his draft position and firmly believes that Atlanta is the right organization for him. In an interview with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, Johnson said that he still knows that he is the best player in the draft.
I know I’m the best player in the draft. I’m just that confident in myself. My parents say the same thing. They help with that mindset. They have never put any pressure on me. They are the ones who’ve helped me realize that everything happens for a reason. That’s where it stems from. My family has been a great support system and they haven’t just told me things I want to hear. They’re not yes men.
Certainly, Johnson showed in summer league that he can be mentioned with the best players in the class. He often dominated the competition and very much looked the part as a player that should have been taken early in the draft.
Johnson knows this season will be all about his development and playing time could be limited due to the depth of the Hawks. He wants to sit back and learn and fully accept any role given to him. He is going to continue to work and be the best player he can be in Atlanta.
In the end, that may very well help his development in the long run.
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