San Antonio Spurs: How Keldon Johnson can be an elite finisher
By Ángel Bolivar Torres
Keldon Johnson Has a Knack for Drawing Fouls
Johnson is a solid athlete by NBA standards, but he's probably not on anyone’s shortlist of most explosive vertical freaks in the league. Despite this, one could argue he is already one of the most impressive and-one finishers at his position and his age.
Among all wings and forwards who played at least 1000 minutes in 2020-21, eight players drew shooting fouls in the 90th percentile or greater. Johnson had by far the best and-one rate of the bunch, finishing his shot while getting fouled 29.1 percent of the time. For reference, out of those eight players, Kevin Durant was the next closest at 25.3 percent. Former teammate DeRozan was sixth at 23.3 percent.
His ability to finish through contact while getting fouled is more astounding when zooming out and surveying the recent history of others who accomplished a similar feat at the beginning of their careers. After all, young players do not typically have the benefit of loose whistles from referees or the functional strength to shed defenders and score.
In the last ten seasons, six players younger than 22 finished their respective season in the 90th percentile or higher for drawing shooting fouls and in the 70th percentile or greater for converting and-ones, per Cleaning the Glass.
The only names above Johnson in terms of and-one percentage are Jaylen Brown and Luka Dončić. The names below him are Zion Williamson, John Wall, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It’s no surprise that these players are known as beacons of strength in the paint. Even if Johnson doesn’t reach perennial All-Star status, the young Spur has shown preternatural strength to absorb contact, whether it’s in midair or after neutralizing the defender with a strategic shoulder. Not only that, but he can still finish around the cup that can prove useful when your team needs a bucket.
Speaking of finishing, let’s look at Johnson's slightly unorthodox albeit highly effective style that he employs to put a period on plays.