Sports | July 19, 2021 10:19 am

Who Is Keldon Johnson of Team USA?

Johnson had 15 points for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team in an 83-76 win on Sunday

Keldon Johnson of Team USA
Keldon Johnson of the United States passes against Spain.
Ethan Miller/Getty

Added to the roster with JaVale McGee in the wake of Bradley Beal leaving the team after testing positive for COVID-19 and Kevin Love withdrawing because of a calf injury, Keldon Johnson had 15 points for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team in an 83-76 win on Sunday over Spain in the final tune-up for both teams before they head to Tokyo.

A member of the 17-player USA Basketball Select Team that trained with Team USA in Las Vegas, Johnson went 7-for-9 from the field (78%) in the win. Johnson, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs under Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich, has shot 75% or better once in his NBA career, a 12-for-16 outing against the Rockets in January.

A 21-year-old who was picked 29th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, Johnson was especially hot in the third quarter and scored 10 points during a key stretch for the U.S. that saw the Americans take the lead after trailing for much of the game.

“I’m out here to be that energy guy, bring life to the team whenever you need it,” Johnson said. “The third quarter we needed a spark. Not saying because I got a couple of buckets. On the defense end, trying to bring some kind of energy or spark so we can get over the hump.”

“Keldon Johnson played a really solid basketball game. Made cuts to the bucket,” Popovich said. “When he did go to the bucket he was very physical. Very solid in half-court defense. He had a very, very good night.”

In addition to Johnson showing well, Damian Lillard (19 points, six assists, Kevin Durant (14 points, two blocks) and Zach LaVine (13 points, three 3-pointers) all made key contributions for Team USA.

The team will leave from Vegas on Monday and will have four more practices in Japan before opening Olympic play against France on July 25. With only nine players on the roster, the team could really use Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Devin Booker in Japan — all of whom are still playing in the NBA Finals. Gonna be an awkward flight over for at least one of those three.

If the Finals go to Game 7, it would be Thursday night, the day before the opening ceremony in Tokyo. With Team USA starting play on Sunday, Middleton, Holiday and Booker won’t be fresh.

“I have no idea. You know, I’m not trying to be glib. I’m just totally transparent,” Popovich said. “We’ve thought about, ‘Are they going to have jet lag? Is it going to be like two days later after they land and they’ll be OK?’ … In some ways, it might depend on if everybody else is healthy. If they’re not, they’ve got to play. So, we’ve gone over lots of scenarios. We haven’t figured it out yet, that’s for sure.”