Should Spurs fans be worried about Keldon Johnson's three-point stroke?
Keldon Johnson came out of the gates looking like he would join the ranks of the premier three-point shooters in the NBA, but four months later, that is no longer the case. While his upward trajectory from beyond the arc felt like the key to unlocking his untapped offensive upside, his regression has turned him into a one-dimensional scorer.
Where did things slip off the rails for Keldon? To answer that question, we should review a timeline of his season.
The First 14 Games
The fourth-year small forward was on a historic heater at the beginning of the season, nailing 42.3% of his 8.8 three-point attempts per game across his first 14 contests. He hit catch-and-shoot looks with no airspace, made tough shots in transition, and experimented with pulling up off the dribble.
Johnson's confidence was at an all-time high, and who could blame him? He was on pace to join Steph Curry and James Harden as the third player in league history with 300 three-pointers in one season. Unfortunately, all his momentum came to a screeching halt over the next couple of months.
The Next 28 Games
Everything fell apart for Johnson during this middle portion of the season, and his long-distance shooting took the brunt of the collapse. The six-five bruiser reverted to the moonball mechanics that stopped him from being a consistent threat earlier in his career, and subpar results soon followed.
He shot a paltry 28.8% from three-point land while his volume plummeted to 6.3 attempts per game over this 28-game span. Keldon continued firing at will. But he gradually began shying away from leaning on the three-ball after multiple weeks of drawing iron, and defenses started taking notice.
The Last 14 Games
Even when it looked like his efficiency from the perimeter couldn't get any worse, Keldon saw his three-point percentage fall even further. In his last 14 appearances, he has connected on 20% of his 4.3 long-range attempts per game. And straddling the Mendoza Line in any sport is never positive.
With his self-belief in his marksmanship fried, Johnson has turned down a bunch of open threes and effectively shrunk the court for San Antonio. All the chatter about a breakout campaign has dwindled into whispers, and it hasn't helped that the Spurs are sitting near the bottom of the standings.
What's Next for Keldon Johnson?
Despite Keldon undergoing undeniable deterioration from three during his debut season as a go-to option, he has displayed encouraging growth in a handful of areas. From embracing more playmaking duties to becoming an elite finisher around the rim, Spurs fans should still have faith in Johnson.
He may never be able to leverage his driving gravity to generate openings for his teammates like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Zion Williamson. And no one should expect him to become a superstar. Keldon can still play a vital function in San Antonio's rebuild if he rediscovers his shooting stroke.