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James Bouknight (-176) vs. Keon Johnson (+135)
This is a player matchup between two guards who bring different skillsets.
Keon Johnson is a 6-foot-5 two-guard that is expected to be primarily a high-flyer with a spark off the bench. He struggles with his shot, and from three, Johnson was 13-of-48 (27.1%) in his only season at Tennessee.
James Bouknight also had a down season from three, dropping his percentage from 34.7% in 2019-20 to 29.3% in 2020-21. Bouknight owns a more seasoned offensive game than Johnson and brings more instant offense off the bench right away, as both players look to be a primary scorer as the backup shooting guard.
Bouknight finish his UConn career with season-highs in points (18.2), rebounds (5.7), assists (1.8), steals (1.1) and minutes per game (31.7) across only 15 games as a sophomore.
Johnson averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 25.5 minutes and 27 games total.
Johnson came into Tennessee off a major knee injury in high school, so we did not see his potential until later in his freshmen season. Johnson came off the bench for the first 10 of 11 games as a Vol, then ended the season with 17 starts.
The former Tennessee guard recorded a 48-inch vertical at the NBA combine, so after that, his stock skyrocketed. However, that hype has cooled off lately and doesn't seem to be coming back anytime soon.
Most experts project Bouknight between the No. 6 and 8 picks to Oklahoma City, Golden State and Orlando, while Johnson is dropping like a fly.
PointsBet, in particular, has moved Johnson's odds to -200 for the Over 8.5 but stood still on his draft position despite rumors swirling of his stock heading south (or north from a betting perspective).
On the other hand, Bouknight's prop was 10.5 until July 20th, before moving to the Over 9.5 at +110 and Under 9.5 to -130 that we see today, per NBC's future model.
A top 10 selection for Bouknight is -182 now compared to Johnson's -200 price tag -- but I favor Bouknight.
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With the Magic (No. 5 and 8) and Raptors (No. 4) talking about trading up to No. 3 with the Cavaliers, Johnson seems out of the picture for both teams. Orlando has Wendell Carter Jr., Mo Bamba and two Michigan bigs already in Moritz Wagner and Ignas Brazdekis, so if they take Scottie Barnes as expected at No. 5, they likely will pass on Jonathan Kuminga and Johnson at No. 8.
With that being said, Oklahoma City (No. 6) and Golden State (No. 7) would have to select Johnson for him to hit the Under 8.5 and I do not see it happening. Both teams will likely take the best available player at No. 5 and No. 7 as they are both focused on trading the following picks: No. 14 GS, No. 16 OKC, No. 18 OKC.
Reports are Sacramento is glued to Franz Wagner at No. 9, and if they are not, I would still expect a big man there.
The Pelicans draft at No. 10 overall, and if they choose between Johnson or Bouknight, I would have to assume they lean the better scorer in Bouknight with Lonzo Ball as the point guard or potentially gone to free agency. That leaves Johnson out of the top 10 for me.
Kevin O'Conner, Sam Vecenie, Jonathan Wasserman and Jeremey Woo all project Bouknight to go No. 6 or 7 overall, while Johnson ranges from 8, 15, 15 and 20.
That is a wide range to fall, while the majority of NBA experts peg Bouknight as a certified top 10 pick a week before the draft.
I will continue to ride Bouknight and fade Johnson as the prop market and experts align on this one.
While the -200 tag on Johnson's Over 8.5 is a lot just to win one unit -- I will risk it for the biscuit as this line will move and this clearly looks like a spot where Johnson does not belong.
With that, I took Bouknight to be drafted in the top 10 earlier and Under 9.5 yesterday -- I advise to bet one, whichever has better odds or you feel more comfortable with.
I also grabbed Bouknight to hear his name called before Johnson. I bought into Bouknight before Johnson at -140 odds and not even 24 hours later, the odds moved to -176 on PointsBet.
I expect this matchups odds to move closer to -200, while Johnson's prop line should go to 10.5 soon and Bouknight's 9.5 likely will become 8.5 or 7.5 by early next week.
Picks: James Bouknight drafted before Keon Johnson (1u)
James Bouknight Under 9.5 or Top 10 (1u)
Keon Johnson Over 8.5 (1u)
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