Keldon Johnson prepared to take next step as a leader for young Spurs

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors
San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Keldon Johnson turned 24 years old today, and while he is still younger than most players in the NBA, he is one of the elder statesmen for a rebuilding organization aiming to reestablish itself in the playoff picture. The sprightly forward has adapted to every role that has come his way since the San Antonio Spurs selected him with the 29th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, transforming from an unpolished complementary scorer into a go-to option for a team short on self-creators.

The arrival of Victor Wembanyama has altered the trajectory of this proud franchise. And whenever a generational prospect strolls through your doors, it forces the coaching staff to reshape the pecking order on the offensive end. Keldon is almost guaranteed to concede touches to his talented teenage teammate. But his leadership, maturity, and selfless attitude shined as he showed honest enthusiasm to do whatever the club needs in a recent interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

"Transitioning into this season, I’m here to definitely show what I can do, but I’m here to win some basketball games. We don’t really know how that looks as an offense, but whatever position I’m put in, I’m gonna go out and compete and be ready to win. I definitely feel like I’m a big part of this team on the court and off the court leadership-wise. I’m just ready to get to work."

Keldon Johnson

Even if the fifth-year slasher takes fewer shots as the playbook revolves around Wembanyama, there is a great chance he will benefit from his sacrifice. All the extra defensive attention Victor commands with his gravitation pull as an elite lob target and supersized floor spacer will manufacture wide-open looks for Keldon. He may not enter the All-Star or All-NBA discussion this season, but Johnson could see his efficiency skyrocket to career-highs across the board with reduced responsibilities.

Johnson has been a starter for the Silver and Black for the last three seasons, but Gregg Popovich made it clear that the front office has made no definitive rotation decisions. San Antonio is roughly two weeks from kicking off their regular season schedule. Regardless of what happens, Spurs fans can rest easier knowing Keldon has no problem with scaling up or down his usage to accommodate the best interests of the immediate and long-term future of this promising squad.