San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson entered this season with a lot to prove. He signed a big 4-year, $74 million contract extension with the team, ensuring that he'll be a Spur for the immediate future, but that comes with an increased set of expectations. This comes after the Spurs made the decision to trade All-Star Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks.
While they didn't necessarily choose Johnson over Murray, his play to start the season suggests they were wise to invest in him. Johnson is in the midst of a breakout season and is looking like a new star for the Spurs. That's huge for the team since it seemed as though the Spurs would be taking a big step back while still early on in their rebuild.
Instead, the Spurs appear to be playing at a similar level to how they were last season, and that is largely due to the development of Johnson. He's slimmed down in an attempt to be more effective on the perimeter, and the results on both sides of the ball have been hard to ignore. Now, let's take a look at three reasons the NBA can't ignore Keldon Johnson's All-Star bid.
Reason #3: Motivated fanbase
Spurs fans are nothing if not motivated, and the team's fan base will likely rally around Johnson in an attempt to help him make the all-star team. They gave it their all, but they came up short in their campaign to get Murray on last year's team; in fact, he finished 12th in the voting for Western Conference backcourt players. This time around, and with everything that's gone on since the end of last season, I expect Spurs fans to be even more motivated in their efforts, and hopefully, they will have better success.
It may ultimately be for nothing considering just how stacked the options for the Western Conference frontcourt are. There are players such as LeBron James, Luka Doncic, Paul George, Zion Williamson, Karl-Anthony Towns, and a host of others that he'll have to compete with for a limited number of frontcourt spots.
Still, fan engagement and rallying around a particular player is never a bad thing, and since Spurs fans are particularly active on social media, it could cause fans of other teams or casual fans to begin to take notice of Johnson's season. That type of grassroots effort is hard to ignore, even by the NBA.