Keldon Johnson’s transformative summer has him faster, stronger, “feeling better than ever”

If Keldon Johnson seems slightly other at the present time, possibly a half-step faster on each ends of the ground, you’ll thank the additional paintings and alter in nutrition he installed over the summer.

The 6-foot-6 23-year-old heads into his 4th professional season with now not just a freshly inked extension, however 20 kilos lighter of body and, in keeping with him, the bodily transformation has him feeling better than ever.

“I feel so much better,” Johnson mentioned forward of Thursday’s preseason tip in opposition to the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I feel like it’s definitely a game changer for me.”

The change-up follows a occupation season for Johnson, wherein he upped his scoring from 12.8 to 17 issues according to sport and complemented his slashing abilities via changing into a constant, high-volume danger from past the arc, hitting just about 40% of his threes on 5.3 makes an attempt according to sport.

“We started in June,” he mentioned. “Just sitting with my nutritionist, our performance sci, and my chef, as well. Kind of just switched up the diet.” That supposed sacrificing a few of his favorites, just like the Chick-Fil-As and Gus’ Fried Chickens. “I love to eat. All fast food — I cut all that out.”

Johnson mentioned he saved it easy within the early going: “At first, it was just chicken and rice, beef and rice until my body adjusted, and then expanded (on the diet) from there.” He lets in himself one cheat day every week. “Nothing too crazy. Just treat myself to something special.”

Known as a lot for his finishes across the basket as his emergent three-point shot, Johnson’s earned nicknames just like the Mustang and Big Body. That physicality’s additionally lent itself to him transferring up a place till now. Last season he began most commonly along Doug McDermott and automatically took at the larger project. According to Basketball Reference, 56% of his mins got here on the 4 closing season.

Johnson held his personal at the glass (6.1 rebounds according to sport, 10% rebounding charge) in that function, and the Spurs transfer 1 thru 4 sufficient for positions to imply rather less, however a nominal shift to the three would possibly swimsuit each him and the Spurs, who had their struggles in opposition to larger lineups right through the yr. The arrival of men like rookie Jeremy Sochan, the presumptive day 1 starter, and Isaiah Roby must lend a hand substitute that.

Said Gregg Popovich previous this preseason on Johnson this yr:

“[Keldon]’s really a wing player. He’s not really a ‘four’, so this is putting him more at his natural position… So he’s a little quicker, he moves better, and he tells me that he looks better, too.”

For Johnson, that are meant to imply extra time spent on shiftier ball handlers, which is the place being lighter and extra fleet of foot must truly repay. It’s simple to overanalyze flashes in preseason, however moments like sticking with Jordan Clarkson at the perimeter and drawing an offensive foul are the type you wish to have to peer him construct on within the months forward. In the least, it’s somewhat of momentum for a man identified to get going with a head of steam in the back of him.

Johnson doesn’t appear involved that the drop in weight will remove from the ones extra bodily sides of his sport. Quite the other: “I feel a lot lighter, more explosive. Other than that, I feel stronger than I’ve ever been. As a basketball player, I feel every aspect of my game has been helped.”

He’s nonetheless Big Body; there’s just a bit much less of him.

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