The San Antonio Spurs have been in the headlines this past week after the announcement came that Keldon Johnson would be promoted to the USA Men's National Team. His promotion comes in the wake of the departures of both Bradley Beal and Kevin Love.
In their first two exhibition matches, the Men's National Team suffered two disappointing losses in a row to Nigeria and Australia, finally being able to redeem themselves in a nice showing against Argentina. The media made sure to be extra critical of those first two performances, though. The opposing team recorded more assists and rebounds in both of those losses.
Since Johnson was added to the roster, quite a bit of controversy has come with that selection. While there is certainly a case to be made that he is the team's best option for replacement, Johnson going and playing in Tokyo does have its potential drawbacks as well. Regardless, though, Spurs fans will obviously be in full support of having the opportunity to see a young Spurs player in the Olympics (with Team USA) for the first time since 2004.
That being said, not everyone is so supportive of Johnson's promotion, including ESPN's Kendrick Perkins.
Kendrick Perkins lacks an understanding of team building
While it's worth mentioning that Perkins still believes the Men's National Team has enough firepower to win games, he also thinks that Trae Young is more deserving of a USA roster spot than Keldon Johnson and that Coach Popovich was "biased" in his decision to promote him.
I'm not here to say that Trae Young doesn't deserve a roster spot on Team USA, because I think he does. Given that he also averaged a whopping 9.4 assists per game this past season, he would surely help to fill the team's need for more playmaking.
That being said, Perkins wants for him to join the same Men's National Team that he, just five days ago, said "[couldn't] guard a parked car." Considering that Jrue Holiday will be joining Team USA in Tokyo after the Finals, though, the team will already have a player at their disposal that can help to make plays for others on offense while not being a liability on the other end of the floor. While Holiday doesn't have the same scoring capability as Young, the team will still have some of the best scorers in the league at their disposal in Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, and Jayson Tatum.
While Young would surely add a lot of talent to an already star-powered roster, Johnson will do the dirty work for the team and won't need the ball in his hands to be effective. He'll be able to grab rebounds, play physical defense, and maybe even get some putbacks.
In my eyes though, what is much more disappointing than Perkins' lack of understanding of team construction is that he would imply that Coach Pop added Johnson to the roster purely because of a bias toward the Spurs. He is by no means an authoritarian when it comes to who is added to the team, as the roster's construction is a collaborative effort between him, his assistant coaching staff, the USMNT managing director Jerry Colangelo, and perhaps even the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
Regardless of what Perkins thinks about Coach Pop, Johnson, or the Men's National Team as a whole, Spurs fans will have the rare opportunity to see a Spur dressed in red, white, and blue. The Men's National Team will play their final exhibition game today against Spain at 8:00 PM Central Time on NBC Sports.