Spurs’ Johnson is lottery pick that wasn’t

P.J. Washington spent Valentine’s Day night alone at home in front of the television.

Like most people in such a situation, it wasn’t by choice.

The Charlotte forward was sequestered under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, forced to watch his team face the Spurs from the relatively germ-free environment of his living room.

What Washington saw in a 122-110 Spurs victory gave him instant flashbacks.

There was Keldon Johnson, crashing the glass. There was Johnson, attacking the rim as if it had insulted a family member. There was Johnson, all but chewing off a limb to win a possession.

“The way he was playing,” Washington said, “it was like he was back at Kentucky again.”

Johnson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, not his best game of the season but productive enough for the second-year Spurs forward.

It also led Washington, Johnson’s former college teammate at Kentucky, to ask what has become a refrain common around San Antonio and the NBA since at least last summer: How did this guy fell to the 29th pick in the 2019 draft?

“There were definitely not 28 players better than him in the draft,” said Washington, who went No. 12. “There’s no reason he shouldn’t have been a lottery pick.”

With every thunderous Johnson dunk and every unbowed defensive performance against some of the NBA’s top scorers, Washington’s scouting report on his ex-teammate becomes more profound.

Johnson, 21, has emerged as…

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