No. 1 in the Southwest Division, the San Antonio Spurs have been hot this season. Without a true superstar, they weren’t expected to be among the top-eight seed in the difficult Western Conference.
Here we are though as San Antonio sits 22-17. In a division with the Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks, it’s shocking that the Spurs have been able to do so well through more than half the season.
How have they been so good this season?
It’s been a mix of heroics from forward DeMar DeRozan and elite performances from their role players like Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson.
On Friday, second-year breakout star Johnson had one of those insane performances.
In a 116-110 victory over the Cavaliers, Johnson totaled 23 points and 21 rebounds. According to NBA on ESPN, it’s the first time a Spurs player has put up a 20-20 game since Tim Duncan in 2013.
Keldon Johnson recorded 23 Pts and 21 Reb tonight— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 20, 2021
He's the first Spurs player with a 20-point, 20-rebound game since Tim Duncan in 2013. pic.twitter.com/fNLZXTZug1
That’s historic for Johnson.
At 6-foot-5, Johnson grabbing 21 boards is mightily impressive. He’s averaged 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season. Both of those numbers are up about 50 percent from his solid rookie season.
On Saturday, Johnson followed that up with 17 points, eight boards and four assists in a 120-113 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks
Johnson left Kentucky after just one season in Kentucky. Still just 21, Johnson is clearly finding his footing and aggression in the league. Taken as a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Johnson has proven to be a capable all-around athlete.
He can rebound, score efficiently, and defend at a high level. That’s, in part, what’s made San Antonio such a great team. With a young core around him, Johnson should become a solid fit for the Spurs for the long-term future.
While a 20-20 performance is rare, Johnson has been churning out impactful games almost every outing.