What does Keldon Johnson need to do to take a huge leap?

Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Keldon Johnson is coming off a career year and recently signed a contract extension with the San Antonio Spurs. He's facing a season with many fans looking to see him make a strong leap from last year. We already know that he is a marksman from beyond the arc, hitting 39.8% of his shots from distance. He has to capacity to be a strong finisher at the rim at times as well. However, he does have some trouble creating his own shot resulting in nearly 70% of his shots coming off an assist.

While this isn't a bad thing, it does pose the question of what will the Kentucky product do without Dejounte Murray. The San Antonio Spurs traded their All-Star point guard, who just broke the NBA record for the best turnover-to-assist ratio. Dejounte Murray was often the lead setup man for Keldon Johnson. With Murray's departure, I'm very curious to see how Keldon makes that adjustment.

A good starting point would be seeing him initiate the pick and roll effectively to create space from his defender. I'd also like the seen him be able to generate his three point opportunities off the dribble or off of screens. We know he can shoot but most of his shots last year came from shooting spot up jumpers. Having this versatility and ability to hit shots with variety would add a new dimension to his game on offense.  

 It also looks like Keldon will be playing at small forward this coming season. Last year, he had to play the bulk of his minutes at the four spot, out of necessity. Keldon Johnson also made the comment of how he lost 20 pounds this past offseason which makes sense if he's planning to be placed in a faster position. He likely got rid of that extra weight so that he can keep up with the quicker players at the perimeter. This gives hope that he can improve on the defensive end of things as well. An added bonus would be if this resulted in his blowing by his defender more often too. 

The fans love seeing Keldon Johnson dunk and show his emotions but I think he could do even better converting at the rim. He should have the strength and athleticism to finish in the paint consistently especially now that he's lighter on his feet. Combining this with his ability to slash or make back door cuts would make him absolutely deadly. 

All of these things would help push Keldon into potentially being an All-Star in this league. The San Antonio Spurs are facing a rebuilding season and he's going to have plenty of opportunities to not only improve as a defender but adding more variety to offensive package. That type of variety offensively would not only open up things for him as a player but for the rest of his team as well. He would garner more defensive attention and could help the offense flow more effectively. 

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I believe the 23-year-old marksman is on a good value contract regardless if he ascends to stardom but if he can make that jump then San Antonio's rebuild might be a lot quicker than we thought.