San Antonio Spurs PF Option 2: Keldon Johnson
I think Luka and Young will split, starting 60 games among them. If the Spurs want to play modern, positionless basketball, Keldon Johnson will start at the four slot in the remaining 12 games.
Johnson, in my mind, is the perfect small forward. He’s bulky, fights on defense and for rebounds, and can knock down shots well enough from anywhere. He can also be a great power forward.
The Spurs scored 111 points per game last year. That was the 10th-worst in the entire league. Scoring is a must for them.
Between his 72 games in the NBA and G League, Luka Samanic has averaged less than nine points per game. Thaddeus Young is on the verge of calling it a career and has averaged 13 points over his 14 seasons. Johnson should average 15 this season at the very least and 20 is entirely within the realm of possibility.
At power forward, Johnson would be undersized, yes. But he can still defend and rebound against larger opponents, and we already have seen that he can score from all over the court with efficiency. He doesn’t bring the experience that Young has, but he certainly has the positive energy and talent to be a legitimate candidate as a top-15 power forward.
Top 15 doesn’t sound like that much until you remember this isn’t his usual position, and on top of that, he’s only three months older than Luka Samanic.
It also helps that he has a gold medal and Olympic experience -- I'm just saying.
The Spurs have three valid options to start at the power forward position. All have their own unique merits. If you like youth, Luka Samanic is the clear choice with Johnson at his natural small forward position. If you want on-court consistency, Thaddeus Young is your guy. If you want chaos and points, start Johnson.
Knowing the Spurs, all three will see plenty of minutes at the power forward spot, and I’m sure fans will find positives and negatives from their performance. The Spurs are notoriously hard to predict, so I won’t try, but I would like to see Luka get his fair share at the start of the season and have Johnson get the occasional nod in a small-ball lineup. Young is more valuable off the bench, but I can certainly see why he will eventually join the starting rotation. It’s a tough call to make.