Comparisons are a vital part of sports. We can't set our eyes on a new talent without immediately pointing to who that player reminds us of, like the Leonardo Di Caprio meme from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I do it too, so I wish I had an answer for why we can't escape the jaws of a player-comp,...
Far-Fetched Friday: Keldon Johnson Wins MIP
By: Ryan Stein
Compared to other individual awards the NBA hands out, the Most Improved Player award is the most unpredictable. At times, players that showed flashes of stardom the year before end up winning, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2017 and Julius Randle in 2021. Other times, players come out of nowhere for breakout seasons, like CJ McCollum in 2016 and Pascal Siakam in 2019. Before the season starts, there are usually a handful of players that fans and the media seem to believe have the best shot at winning the trophy, but every season there are players that outperform expectations. For this upcoming season, I believe the player that will rise and win the MIP award is San Antonio Spurs small forward Keldon Johnson.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the Champions League.
Keldon Johnson showed some real promise last season, his first year full season after missing the majority of his rookie campaign. Averaging 12.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG on solid shooting (47.9% from the field) at the age of 21, he's still got plenty of room to expand upon his game. A major catalyst for his improvement is from his time with the Team USA Olympic basketball game, a team with which he won a gold medal. Having the opportunity to practice and play with teammates on a daily basis can do wonders for a young player's progression. Even more, his coach with San Antonio, Greg Popovich, helped guide him through his Olympic basketball experience as head coach of Team USA.
Furthermore, with star small forward DeMar DeRozan departing from the Spurs during the offseason, there will be plenty of offensive touches to go around. Expect Johnson to get quite a bit of those touches, and don't be surprised when his scoring average balloons to upwards of 20 PPG. With an award as uncertain as MIP, my bet is on a young player in line for a bigger offensive role with his team and that had a great offseason.
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