Keldon Johnson enjoyed another breakout season with San Antonio Spurs as he became the de facto face of the franchise after the front office sent Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks to begin a rebuild last summer. The former late-first-rounder persevered through inconsistency and additional attention from defenses, putting together an encouraging campaign.
Although he averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game in his first go-round as the undisputed go-to scorer, his shooting splits fell significantly from a year ago, leaving some fans questioning his viability in a featured role. As Keldon prepares for his fifth NBA offseason, what skills should he hone to take his game to another level with the Silver and Black?
1. In-Between Game
Unless you are a prolific three-point shooter, unstoppable paint presence, transcendent defender, top-notch playmaker, or possess a combination of those traits, earning an All-Star appearance is a tall task. Although Keldon Johnson is solid in a handful of areas, his one-dimensionality stopped him from being a genuine candidate for any end-of-the-year accolades.
The fourth-year forward is a high-volume slasher and long-ranger gunner, but he was one of the least efficient players in the league from both areas this season. His predictability and low percentages from his favorite spots made him a lackluster number-one scoring option for San Antonio. Keldon has to expand his arsenal this summer to retain his go-to status.
Johnson must focus on developing an in-between game. The 23-year-old occasionally ventured into the midrange, draining 33.4% of his 66 jumpers inside the arc. But in a rebuilding season geared to foster experimentation from youngsters, he often relied on the comfort and familiarity of straight-line drives and catch-and-shoot triples to score most of his points.
While Keldon spurned those intermediary shots, he loved using the runner when attacking the hoop, an invaluable counter versus rim protectors. But his touch was sorely lacking as he only made 38.6% of his floaters, ranking 34th out of the 38 players that took at least 100 attempts this season. His path to three-level scoring is an uphill battle, and he should embrace it.