Portland Trail Blazers second-year pro Keon Johnson started this year riding the bench after having a much larger role at the end of last season. After being acquired at the trade deadline in 2022, Johnson found himself in a position to play a lot of minutes. That changed this season, and Johnson was forced to adjust.
Per Game Stats:
— 4.7 points per game
— 1.1 rebounds per game
— 1.5 assists per game
— 37.6 percent from the field (on 4.5 attempts)
— 34.6 percent from 3-point range (on 2.0 attempts)
— 65.9 percent from the free throw line (on 1.0 attempts)
On-Off / Advanced Stats:
— -18.0 on-court plus-minus; -16.1 on-off swing
— 20.9 assist percentage
However, for a brief stretch in March, Johnson was given the chance to show what he was made of. He averaged 15.3 points, 5.7 assists, and 2.0 rebounds on 45.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. The sample size was just three games, but he showed that he had tools and a feel for the game that he had not yet shown up until that small stretch.
Unfortunately, the end of that stretch came in the form of a broken finger that ended Johnson’s season. The abrupt ending to Johnson’s sophomore season was disappointing for those who believed that what he was showing in those games is what he is truly capable of.
For that time, Johnson was the primary playmaker off the bench, and showed a lot of promise in that role as a point guard. He looked much more comfortable than he had in the past, and his shooting percentages went up despite the increased volume. His turnovers also went up, which is a concern, but growing pains are expected for young players in major offensive roles.
His defense is still a question mark, which is not a great sign for a Blazers team fielding a plethora of skilled offensive, and poor defensive guards. That is a skill that the Blazers will likely hope to develop in Johnson as he grows more as a person and as a player.