As basketball season quickly approaches, the Blue Zone takes a detailed look at Duke men's basketball's 2022-23 roster, with a preview of each player. Previously, we looked at Stanley Borden and Spencer Hubbard. Next up is Max Johns:
Year: Graduate student
Last year’s statline: 2.8 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 7.4 MPG
Game breakdown: Max Johns enters Duke as an archetypal player that every team needs—a veteran, rotational guard capable of stepping up to the plate when needed. The former Princeton Tiger and high school track star may seem like a small fish in a big pond, but he possesses the experience needed to boost a Duke team with sky-high expectations.
The graduate transfer started just seven of the 72 games he played in his four-year undergraduate career at Princeton, but certainly rose to the occasion during this time. His best performance came in the Tigers' 100-59 demolition of Kean last December, where he co-led Princeton in points with 13, went 2-of-3 from outside the arc and tacked on two steals in just 13 minutes. Johns has shot a respectable 35.3% from three in his career, and his speed, shiftiness and height allow him to make energizing, momentum-shifting finishes under the rim. Additionally, thanks to his long wingspan, his defensive abilities allow him to act as an excellent 3-and-D rotation player.
Role on the team: Johns enters a strong backcourt led by junior Jeremy Roach. In addition to being one of seven guards on the Blue Devils’ roster, the High Point, N.C., native also makes up one quarter of the graduate transfer class on a relatively young team. The career 61.3% free throw shooter likely won’t see extended time down the stretch unless the game’s outcome is already decided, but his accuracy on three-pointers may lead head coach Jon Scheyer to utilize him in small-ball lineups to boost spacing and scoring.
Johns will likely have to compete for time with fellow graduate guard Jacob Grandison in rotations, a trend to monitor throughout the season. However, his veteran presence alone can aid the Blue Devils’ highly touted freshmen guards Tyrese Proctor and Jaden Schutt in adjusting to an intense collegiate basketball setting under the brightest of lights.
NBA comparison: Philadelphia 76ers guard P.J. Tucker shares a surprising amount in common with Johns. Both are 6-foot-5 wings who shoot respectably from outside the arc. Additionally, Tucker and Johns can both use their defensive abilities to serve as 3-and-D guards on their respective teams. Tucker edges out Johns in terms of free throw shooting, although both are prone to accuracy lulls at the line. Perhaps most importantly, both are highly experienced in their respective levels of the sport. Tucker is about to embark on his 11th NBA season with his sixth team, while Johns looks to his fourth in Division I basketball due to the Ivy League's cancellation of the winter 2020-21 season. The 76ers and the Blue Devils both look to contend for a championship this year and hope to rely on their incoming veteran guards for experience, momentum and leadership.
Projected stats: 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 2.0 MPG
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