The San Antonio Spurs may need to start monitoring the shooting of their starting small forward. While Keldon Johnson does plenty on the court, his shot has seemed to take a step backward in the preseason and early regular season.
I first noticed it in the preseason, as Johnson shot just 4-of-14 (28.6%) from beyond the arc and 15-of-24 from the free throw line (62.5%). While his 3-point shooting was partly expected given that's still a work in progress for the 22-year-old, his shooting from the charity stripe concerned me more.
Most times, someone's shooting form on a free throw is a good indication of how good of a jump shooter they are. An inconsistent shot while by yourself at the line means there's probably something that can be improved with your mechanics.
The trend continued in the first game of the regular season, as Johnson split his free throws in all three trips to the line and finished 3-of-6.
I couldn't help but notice there are some variations in Keldon's shot form that could be causing his inaccuracy. Wanting an expert's opinion, I turned to offensive efficiency specialist Roger Galo, founder of the Galo Shot-Making Method. After watching some video of Johnson, Galo had plenty to say about his form.
"He has staggered feet variation and his pivot position varies depending on which side of the court he’s on," said Galo. "This is also an issue at the foul line as well. He has a good arc but not optimum rotation."
Johnson has definitely established a high arc with his jumper, particularly when he shoots from the outside.
Where Keldon is going wrong, though, according to Galo, is his tendency to drift.
"His shooting hand and arm drift rightward away from his guide hand and arm, which is triggered by his guide hand and arm staying behind during his shooting motion. He also has lateral travel while shooting both at the foul line and on jumpers."
While there are issues with his mechanics, Galo insists it's fixable. "His technique is riddled with variables, but can be improved significantly," he said. "He shoots with the same set of mechanics, however, there are some variations within his set of movements that shouldn’t exist."
How can Keldon Johnson improve his shooting form?
With the Spurs having the best shooting coach in the business in Chip Engelland, it's curious that Keldon's form seems to be lacking this season so far. When asked how it could be improved, Galo had some advice.
"He needs to be taught in person the correct movements to address his issues," he said. The variables within his mechanics aren't helping the situation, which expectedly has led to inconsistency.
With a game predicated on getting to the basket for tough finishes, Johnson's jumper will need to improve if he's going to take the next step in his basketball career. Fortunately, he's shown flashes of a mid-range game and even some floaters recently, but defenses will start collapsing the lane quickly on him if he continues to struggle from the outside.
The Spurs may want to begin working more closely with Johnson on his form, especially if his free throws continue to trend down as the season goes on.