3 Keys to Keldon Johnson becoming the Spurs' next cornerstone

Keldon Johnson
Keldon Johnson / Tim Heitman/GettyImages
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3. Ballhandling is now Johnson's biggest swing skill

When it comes to Johnson’s ceiling and determining whether or not he can be a cornerstone player for the Spurs, if you’re asking me, his ballhandling is now his biggest swing skill. He has already shown his functional strength and soft touch around the rim, has greatly improved as a 3-point shooter, and showed some very promising flashes of pull-up shooting on limited reps this past season.

If Johnson is to fulfill his potential as a scorer, though, the next big step for him to take is undoubtedly improving his handles.

The first clip shown above is a picture-perfect example of what Johnson could look like with better ballhandling, splitting two defenders and finishing with a George Gervin-like finger roll at the rim in this instance. Better ballhandling from Johnson could allow him to create more space in 1-on-1 matchups, get to his spots more easily in the midrange, and get him easier opportunities around the rim like in the highlight above.

If and when Johnson still isn’t able to find an easier shot using his better handles, his improvement in that department would only help him get in better positions to feed his teammates. Assuming Johnson is able to improve both his ballhandling and playmaking, him putting the complete package together could look something like this clip against the Memphis Grizzlies this past season. Even if he isn’t able to become a defensive threat next season, any player that can reliably score on all three levels and find his teammates for easy scoring opportunities is incredibly valuable. 

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The path toward becoming the Spurs’ next cornerstone player won’t be easy for Johnson and is still far from being certain, but if he can build on his impressive third season with the Spurs, he undeniably has a chance.