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DeMar DeRozan calls Keldon Johnson one of his “favorite rookies he’s ever played with”

DeMar DeRozan recent appeared on JJ Redick’s podcast.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan has been making the rounds lately. After recently talking to rapper Problem, he also appeared on JJ Reddick’s Podcast “The Old Man & the Three” with Reddick and Tommy Alter. They discussed a variety of topics, including the current NBA Finals matchup between the Heat and Lakers, the difficulty of eliminating LeBron James, playing for the Raptors and being traded, and his advocacy for mental health awareness.

As far as Spurs related topics go, they came up a couple of times, including in his discussion about why he doesn’t shoot more threes (beginning around the 27:19 mark). In his earlier years, he admitted to being stubborn and determined to prove his doubters wrong that he couldn’t be a great player without shooting threes.

“No you can’t tell me I have to shoot threes for me to be a great player. What are you talking about? I think my first seven or eight games, I had 30-plus (points) and I think that year I averaged 27 (points) - I barely shot threes.

“It was me being stubborn trying to say I can be good. I don’t have to shoot threes. That doesn’t mean I can’t or I don’t know how. I can be a dominant player at what I do if I play this way.”

After getting tired of hearing about it, he attempted 3.6 per game in the 2017-18 season, but then came the trade to the Spurs, who had plenty of shooters surrounding him his first season here, and he began to enjoy playing the role of distributor over shooter.

“I played with (Davis) Bertans my first year (in San Antonio). One of the best shooters I played with in my career.

“He came to me and said, ‘Thanks. I’ve never got this many open shots.’

“I had Bryn Forbes telling me the same thing. I felt different getting my shooters shots.

“These last two years I’ve been more playmaking and playing to my ultimate strengths until I feel like someone could stop me or slow me down doing that.”

They continued to discuss how generating threes for others is a valuable skillset by itself before Reddick later shifted the topic to the Spurs’ Bubble match-up against the Pelicans (around the 39:09 mark). Despite the game being a crucial 122-113 win for the Spurs in the race to make the play-in, Reddick was his Spurs-killer self, hitting 8-12 threes to keep it close, and mostly against Keldon Johnson in arguably his only “bad” game of the Bubble. It was a learning experience for the rookie swingman who otherwise possesses the skills to be an All-NBA defender before all is said and done.

Reddick explained how he saw Pop giving Johnson some instruction, and he jumped in to remind him that he’s “going right” every time. DeRozan mentioned they had been telling him that too but praised Johnson for working through his rookie mistakes and not shying away from challenges.

“I love him to death. One of my favorite rookies I’ve ever played with.

He always wants to take on the challenges too! That’s what I love. He’s going to be pretty good.

This isn’t the first time DeRozan has praised Johnson. He also called him his little infant during the Bubble and stated he is glad to be playing with him so early in his career. The entire thing is an enjoyable listen, so be sure to check it out.