Spurs Roster

3 Keys to Keldon Johnson becoming the Spurs' next cornerstone

Keldon Johnson
Keldon Johnson / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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2. Johnson's defense leaves a bit to be desired

Calling someone a good or bad defender can mean several things, and as with any other player, it’s too vague of a statement to say that Johnson needs to improve his overall defense. He already has many of the necessary physical tools at his disposal to be a good on-ball defender—particularly around the basket—and has shown some promising flashes of disciplined team defense that can be seen below.

Johnson’s most glaring defensive issues can be seen when he’s tasked with defending smaller or shiftier guards on an island. While he’s shown in the past that his feet are quick enough to keep up with those players, his defensive engagement sometimes has a tendency to waver, leading to some less-than-impressive moments like this one against Cole Anthony. These same lapses sometimes cause Johnson to rotate a bit too late or over-help when away from the ball as well.

To be honest, I don’t expect Johnson to ever become one of the Spurs’ best defenders, particularly with Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan to support him on that end of the floor. But continuing to learn the game, understanding his defensive assignments, and using his relentless motor to his advantage whenever possible will all be key for him moving forward.

If Johnson can avoid becoming a defensive liability, he will almost surely be a good role player for the team. If he manages to become a defensive threat in the future, however, it could pay huge dividends for the team and his individual ceiling.

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