Bucks' 2024 1st-Round Pick Receives Eyebrow-Raising Grade

The Milwaukee Bucks made a questionable selection with their first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Let's hand out a grade for their pick.
2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The Milwaukee Bucks had plenty of options on the table when they were on the clock with the 23rd overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. In the end, they made a surprising pick with AJ Johnson, a combo guard from the NBL in Australia.

Johnson was a top-30 recruit in the 2023 class and originally committed to Texas. However, he backed out of that commitment and decided to play for the Next Stars program in the NBL.

Standing at 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan and weighing in at a mere 167 pounds, it's safe to say Johnson will need to hit the weight room in the coming years. In the meantime, he’ll have to rely on his lightning-quick first step to create separation from defenders.

Johnson might remind fans of another Bucks' first-rounder who skipped college to play professionally—Brandon Jennings. Both guards are slight in frame and lightning quick with the ball in their hands. Milwaukee hopes Johnson can replicate the same kind of production Jennings brought.

Johnson appears to have a natural feel for the game, knowing when to get his own shot and when to create for teammates. He keeps defenders off balance with a mix of speeds and angles, showcasing a variety of go-to moves that give him an edge.

Overall, there’s still a lot unknown about Johnson’s game. He barely played last year, making it difficult to get a full read on his strengths and weaknesses. But Milwaukee must’ve seen something special in their individual and private workouts.

When the Bucks made the pick, there were several other intriguing prospects still on the board—Terrance Shannon Jr., Ryan Dunn, Johnny Furphy, Kyle Filipowski, and Tyler Kolek all come to mind. But General Manager Jon Horst swung for the fences with Johnson.

It’s unlikely Johnson will be able to contribute right away, but maybe he was drafted as a key piece for the next era of the Giannis Bucks. After all, Milwaukee has few opportunities to add long-term players.

It's hard not to feel a bit frustrated with the selection of a player who wasn’t on the radar and who we know so little about. However, patience is key. We’ll have to revisit this pick in three years to see if it was the right move. For now, let’s give Johnson the time he needs to figure out life in the NBA.

Grade: Check Back In 2027

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