Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson Stock Rising as Fantasy Owners Catch On to Hot Start

Keldon Johnson (Getty)
Keldon Johnson (Getty)

*With the beginning of each NBA season, keen-eyed NBA fantasy basketball players are always looking for undervalued players after the draft. One of those players for many will end up being San Antonio Spurs small forward Keldon Johnson, who has been off to a hot start through 7 games so far, including a career-high 26 point outing against the Lakers.

The second-year forward out of Kentucky has carried over his hot play from the bubble last season, where he put up 20+ point performances three times. This was a nice turnaround to his rookie campaign, where he saw sparse minutes early on in the season. 

The sophomore has been given a much-increased workload so far this year, getting 12 more minutes per game and shooting 6 more shots per game. This has led to a very productive stretch for him, opening the season averaging 15.1 PPG and 8 RPG. 

Fantasy Impact

NBA fantasy basketball owners might want to act quickly on picking up Keldon while he’s still available. He’s currently rostered in 63% of ESPN leagues, which is up from 38% on Monday. A couple of 20 point performances will put you on people’s radar.

If you were underselling his prospects to start the year, you weren’t alone. With an average draft position on ESPN of 131 overall and 35 out of small forwards, plenty of people weren’t expecting the blazing start we’ve seen so far. He is currently sitting as the 11th best small forward in ESPN standard leagues, far surpassing preseason predictions.

He also makes for a good pick up in either a points league or a roto league. Along with scoring and rebounding, Johnson also has good production in the steals and blocks category for a small forward. 

Also, he is currently listed as only a SF in most leagues. However, don’t be surprised if later in the season he picks up the PF designation as well because when White makes his return, Keldon Johnson will get minutes as a PF when they decide to go small.

Keldon Johnson (Getty)
Keldon Johnson (Getty)

A bright spot for the struggling team

As for the team, the start of the season has not gone as well as they might have hoped by currently sitting at 3-4, including losing 4 of their last 5 games. For most NBA fans, seeing them sitting at under .500 just feels wrong. Along with this, the team lost guard Derrick White indefinitely after fracturing his toe – the same toe he has surgery on that kept him out of the preseason and the first four games of the regular season.

There are reasons for fans in Texas to remain optimistic about things, with bright spots breaking out in their young small forward. He has not only put up good raw numbers, but he’s also been extremely efficient in his efforts. He’s currently shooting 47.6% from the field and 41.7% from three, which bodes well for the future.

As they are known to do, the organization has once again found value late in the draft. Having a late first-round pick averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds to start out their second season is not very usual, and the 29th pick will be seen as a valuable asset moving forward for the team.

This hot start has come as a pleasant surprise for the team, as Keldon missed all three preseason games with an injury. Just a few days before the season, Coach Gregg Popovich said he thought it could be a few weeks before Johnson made his debut. Luckily, he progressed quickly in his recovery, and made a surprise start in the season opener and has been playing well ever since.

Also, this information is great for fantasy basketball betting. Fans using ATS sports betting app or other tools might want to pick up KJ. The more known his consistent play becomes, the less of an edge betters might have.

Future outlook

With the team as optimistic about his ascent before the season, it is always nice to see younger players blossom into what you hoped they’d become. And for a team in a position we have not seen them in much over the last two decades, it’s important to have a promising young player like their dynamic forward as a piece they can build with moving forward.

While we may only be 7 games into the season, Keldon Johnson has proved that he is here to perform and will continue to produce at a quality rate for the San Antonio Spurs. With somebody like Derrick White out indefinitely, more shots and production are out there for him. With his stock rising quickly, fantasy owners out there should be quick to pounce while they still have a chance.

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