The San Antonio Spurs could look to add another attacking guard by selecting Keldon Johnson from the University of Kentucky in the 2019 NBA Draft. Johnson is an athletic attacker with a smooth stroke and would fit right in with the rest of San Antonio’s up-and-coming backcourt.
With Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV and DeMar DeRozan already on the roster, the San Antonio Spurs are blessed with a group of attacking playmakers. But you don’t win championships by being satisfied and San Antonio could look to add to their collection of athletic young guards by selecting Keldon Johnson in 2019 NBA Draft.
The University of Kentucky always sends off a group of talented freshmen to be taken in the first round and this year is no different. However out of the Wildcat prospects turning pro this year, it is Johnson who is the most intriguing and has the greatest potential.
Johnson is an athletic slasher who is quick to get out in transition and shows no fear attacking the rim. He averaged right around five free throw attempts per 36 minutes during his freshman season at Kentucky. In the NBA that would put him near respected scoring guards like Donovan Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox.
Another area of Johnson’s offensive game that has caught the attention of NBA scouts is his outside shooting ability. He shot 38 percent from deep on three attempts per game while with the Wildcats. 38 percent isn’t a mind-blowing figure by any means, but it’s very respectable. What’s equally important is how Johnson was making his shots.
His form is very smooth with a high release. As he continues to get stronger and potentially work with Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland, it’s very easy to see him connecting on close to forty percent of his shots while also extending his range far past the NBA three-point line.
Defensively, Johnson isn’t a lock down stopper like Washington’s Matisse Thybulle, but he won’t have to hide on the opposing team’s worst offensive option either. Standing 6’6, sporting a 6’9 wingspan and weighing in at a solid 216 pounds, Johnson will have the size and strength to guard small forwards and the speed to stay with guards. Contributing 2.0 defensive win shares per game gives credibility to the effort he puts in on defense as well.
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He was consistently engaged on the defensive end throughout his freshmen season. His own father was even surprised by the energy the younger Johnson showed on that end of the floor. In an interview with Chris Fisher of CatsPause.com, Chris Johnson had this to say: “I learned this year that he could play defense. He got down and really played defense.” Every Spur is expected to hold their own on the defensive end and Johnson would have no issue doing exactly that.
San Antonio is currently facing a bit of a log jam at the guard position and Johnson would contribute to that. He’s somewhere between a shooting guard and small forward and would occupy the same space as Walker, DeRozan, and Marco Belinelli.
Still, San Antonio could make it work. Their current roster would allow them to send Johnson back-and-forth to the G League throughout his rookie season. It’s a strategy that has worked for them in years past. Johnson could then become a more important part of team in his sophomore season.
If Keldon Johnson is available when San Antonio has their first selection at pick 19, the Spurs will have to think long and hard about taking him. Having the ability to put defenses on their heels with the attacking speed of Murray, Walker, DeRozan and Johnson is certainly enticing.
In the end it will all come down to who’s available when San Antonio is on the clock come June 20th.