Controversial San Antonio Spurs draft prospect #5: Keon Johnson
Tennessee's Keon Johnson is by far one of the most athletic players in the 2021 NBA Draft. He played as a combo guard in college averaging 11.3 points, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. I would say that by far his biggest calling card is his suffocating on-ball defense. He has the lateral speed to keep up with other guards and quickly move through screens, and even if they do manage to get by him, his insane vertical pop can easily stop shot attempts near the bucket.
His verticality is so elite, in fact, that he was able to obliterate the NBA Combine record for players' maximum vertical jumps at 48 inches. That is not a measurement error-- he was actually able to jump four feet in the air. If any part of his game will translate to the NBA, it's his otherworldly athleticism. His freakish athletic measurements and defensive capabilities were likely good enough reason for the Spurs to interview him just over a week ago.
Johnson is definitely not the perfect prospect for the Spurs, though. The first thought that may have come to your mind upon reading this is that, yes, he's another guard. Not only that, but he's another guard that has trouble shooting the ball. While there is some evidence that he can create his own shots in the midrange, he only shot 27% from beyond the arc.
While some claim that he has a lot of scoring potential, I'm not convinced at this point. Unless there is clear, definitive evidence that his outside shooting has drastically improved, this move would not make much sense for the Spurs unless Derrick White is on the way out.
Even then though, I would be very uncomfortable with replacing White with a player like Johnson that has several question marks in terms of his skill and feel for the game. If the Spurs were to go in that direction, I'd even be a bigger buyer for James Bouknight.