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Keon Johnson, the new “baby” to develop the Blazers | NBA

Selected in 21st position in the 2021 Draft by the Knicks after a season with 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists at Tennessee University, then sent the same evening to the Clippers in exchange for the 25th choice (Quentin Grimes), Keon Johnson didn’t really have a chance in Los Angeles.

In a team of veterans, whose back rotation is particularly crowded (Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Terrence Mann and even Brandon Boston Jr), the rookie was not really in the right environment to develop.

(Re)start in Oregon after a false start in California

Since the start of the season, the former teammate of Yves Pons had only taken part in 15 NBA matches, for an average of 3.5 points per game in 9 minutes. It was on the G-League side that he got more playing time since in 7 games with the Agua Caliente Clippers, he contributed 15.1 points per game in 31 minutes.

His departure to Portland therefore sounds like a godsend. In a team that finds itself at a crossroads, between the obligation to aim for the playoffs to keep Damian Lillard and the temptation to rebuild around Anfernee Simons, Keon Johnson should enter more into his coach’s plans and of its “front office”.

The first reaction of Chauncey Billups was in any case in this direction: “ He’s a baby, he’s really, really youngthe Blazers coach told Oregon Live, about the 21-year-old fullback. ” And he’s an incredible athlete. He loves defending, and that’s close to his heart. At such a young age, it’s rare to want to defend so much. But I think it is so young that it is possible to mold it, to direct its development. You get him at such a young age that you can take the time to develop him into the type of player you want him to become.

Follow the Anfernee Simons model

It sounds like the speech of a coach who intends to develop a young person, and make him play. A logical observation since Chauncey Billups, a tough defender during his playing years, had the mission, when he arrived at the head of the Blazers last summer, to raise the bar from a defensive point of view. A complicated mission with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but which is possible for the future, with the club’s young guard.

The most pessimistic observers of the NBA will note, rightly, that the Blazers do not have an affiliated team in the G-League, and that this can slow down its integration and its progression.

However, Anfernee Simons shows that it is possible to progress even without commuting to the development league. Drafted in 2018 by Portland, the leader had waxed the bench during his rookie season: 20 matches, 7 minutes of play for 3.8 points per game.

More than three years later, he is the titular leader of the franchise, in the absence of Damian Lillard, and has above all established himself as a pillar of the future of the club, which will shape its future around him.

Shots Bounces
Players GM Minimum Shots 3 points LF Off Def Early pd bp Int CT party Points
Damian Lillard 29 36.4 40.2 32.4 87.8 0.4 3.7 4.1 7.3 2.9 0.6 0.4 1.3 24.0
Cj Mccollum 36 35.2 43.6 38.4 70.6 0.9 3.3 4.2 4.5 1.9 1.0 0.6 2.1 20.5
Norman Powell 40 33.3 45.6 40.6 80.3 0.4 2.9 3.3 2.0 1.6 1.0 0.4 2.3 18.6
Anfernee Simons 48 28.6 43.8 39.2 89.3 0.5 2.2 2.7 3.6 1.9 0.5 0.1 1.9 15.8
Jusuf Nurkic 51 27.7 53.8 24.5 68.1 2.9 7.9 10.8 2.7 2.5 1.2 0.6 3.4 14.5
Nassir Little 42 25.9 46.0 33.1 73.4 1.4 4.2 5.6 1.3 1.0 0.6 0.9 2.0 9.8
Ben McLemore 37 17.7 39.7 38.8 78.1 0.2 1.2 1.5 0.8 0.6 0.3 0.1 1.5 8.8
Robert Covington 48 29.8 38.1 34.3 83.3 0.9 4.9 5.7 1.4 1.2 1.5 1.3 2.8 7.6
Larry Nance, Jr. 37 23.2 51.5 30.6 65.3 1.6 4.1 5.6 2.0 0.7 1.0 0.4 1.8 6.9
Justise Winslow 1 19.8 60.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.0 7.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 2.0 6.0
Dennis Smith 35 17.0 42.2 22.2 65.5 0.6 1.8 2.4 3.4 1.4 1.1 0.3 1.3 5.6
Reggie Perry 2 20.4 44.4 50.0 100.0 1.0 2.5 3.5 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.0 3.0 5.5
Cody Zeller 27 13.1 56.7 0.0 77.6 1.9 2.8 4.6 0.8 0.7 0.3 0.2 2.1 5.2
Cameron McGriff 3 15.3 35.7 33.3 100.0 2.0 3.0 5.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 2.3 4.7
Trendon Watford 28 11.7 60.0 0.0 63.0 0.8 2.1 2.9 1.0 0.7 0.3 0.5 1.6 4.2
brandon williams 2 5.9 66.7 0.0 57.1 0.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 4.0
Cj Elleby 30 12.1 41.7 30.6 83.3 0.7 1.7 2.4 0.9 0.4 0.5 0.1 1.5 3.9
Tony Snell 38 14.4 37.1 32.0 100.0 0.3 1.6 1.9 0.6 0.3 0.2 0.2 1.2 2.6
Greg Brown III 23 6.0 48.1 9.1 44.4 0.6 0.9 1.5 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.8 2.6
Keljin Blevins 10 5.2 37.5 40.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.6
Jarron Cumberland 3 4.1 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 1.0 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 0.7

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