San Antonio Spurs: Is Jalen Johnson worth the risk?

Jalen Johnson - Duke v Louisville
Jalen Johnson - Duke v Louisville / Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
Jalen Johnson - Duke v Miami / Mark Brown/Getty Images

Reasons the San Antonio Spurs may be wary of Johnson

Despite Johnson's impressive potential, there are still some lingering questions being raised about his game and intangibles, some being understandable and others being a bit of a reach. 

Shooting 44 percent from deep is impressive on paper, but when you break down the numbers a bit more, a less convincing story is told. Johnson took only 18 total attempts from beyond the arc last year, nearly all of which were spot-up catch-and-shoot attempts that other teams' defenses willingly allowed him to take. 

While it's true that he made a good amount of the threes he did take, considering the volume and quality of looks he was given, it appeared that defenses were willing to live with the outcome. He took only 1.4 attempts from deep per game, a rate that placed him at the 43rd percentile. 

If he had shot better from the charity stripe, this would be less of a concern, but shooting only 62% from the line leaves even more questions unanswered about his jumper and his overall rhythm as a shooter. He didn’t shy away from getting to the line with a free throw attempt rate that landed him at the 61st percentile, but his ability to cash in on those opportunities is a bit worrisome. And to make matters even worse, Johnson made only one pull-up jumper last season. 

Nonetheless, based on his ceiling, the San Antonio Spurs would be making the right move if they went ahead and drafted Johnson with the 12th overall pick. Even if that pick seems like a gamble, San Antonio isn’t in a position to draft limited upside players who can contribute early on. The Spurs need All-Star caliber talent and upside, and Johnson could be as good as you can get late in the lottery.