San Antonio Spurs: Ranking the Top 5 guys likely to take the big leap
By Dylan Carter
3. It’s time for the Gold Medalist to show us what he’s learned
The youngest player on the 2020-21 Team USA roster, Keldon Johnson spent much of his offseason as an understudy and hype man for several future Hall of Famers. He worked alongside great players, observing as they put in countless hours of work every single day. After soaking in as much basketball knowledge as possible during his international experience, Keldon can apply what he’s learned to his own NBA career.
A third-year forward with the muscle mass of a grizzly bear, Keldon has already proven himself as an impact player who‘s comfortable playing and defending multiple positions in the league. Keldon started all but two of his 69 games a year ago by showing Coach Pop that he can apply his athleticism to game situations in a productive manner.
Johnson finished in the 96th percentile of finishers in the NBA last season, which earned him an A for finishing talent from B-Ball Index. He defended his tail off against extremely difficult matchups and ultimately earned an A grade for defensive positional versatility and role versatility; meaning he can be trusted to defend numerous positions and excel either way.
For his entire pro career up to this point, it’s been Keldon’s job to apply his skills toward matching the team’s construction. That same logic applied in his lone college season at Kentucky, where he was confined to a relatively defined role instead of having free rein to play his game. The feel heading into this season is that the San Antonio Spurs organization and its fans will allow players to dictate their own roles with their play.
That means Keldon finally has a chance to play a bit more selfishly and freely. Now is the time to find out just how far his potential extends, and what he’s already prepared to amplify in a greater role.