San Antonio Spurs News

3 Spurs players at risk of disappointing in '22-23

Jeremy Sochan - San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets
Jeremy Sochan - San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets / Alex Bierens de Haan/GettyImages
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Keldon Johnson
San Antonio Spurs v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

Keldon Johnson might not be the star player we thought he is

If you had to pick one player who was most likely to have a breakout year on the San Antonio Spurs, Keldon Johnson wouldn't be a bad choice. The gold medal-winning forward is done playing second fiddle on the Spurs, this is his year to take the lead. Is he up to the task?

This really is KJ's show now. With Dejounte Murray gone, the Spurs are going to look to Keldon to carry the scoring load. He was San Antonio's second-leading scorer last season, averaging 17 points per contest. But that was with veteran players such as Murray and Derrick White around for the majority of the season to set him up and carry a fair share of the scoring responsibilities. Can KJ have a similar impact when he's the man opposing defenses are keying on?

Keldon's career high is just one example of the issue the Spurs are going to face this season if they're going to rely on Johnson to be their lead scorer. Watch how many times Johnson creates a shot for himself. The vast majority of his points came from dribble hand-offs, kick-outs, or cleaning up after others.

That's all well and good, but what happens when the Spurs are down three at the end of the game with 20 seconds on the clock and need someone to keep their hopes alive? Can we be confident that Keldon is that guy?

The fact of the matter is that Johnson has rarely been asked to create for himself. And when he has, the results haven't always been pretty, especially in clutch situations. Isolation plays made up just under 3 percent of his shots last season and he shot barely over 27 percent from the floor in those instances, a figure that doesn't exactly lend optimism to his ability to carry the Spurs and create for himself when they need him most.

If Johnson doesn't use this year to break out into a Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown-level player, to be honest, that's okay. He's delivered on one expectation after another but if he tops out as a second-level star that needs someone else to create for him, that won't be the end of the world for San Antonio. That's plenty more than most players who are selected 29th overall do and is something the Spurs should absolutely be able to solve for the long term.

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