Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson is Already Impressing


When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called Emmanuel Mudiay‘s name as the 7th pick, it’s safe to say many draft experts and Detroit Pistons fans would have been more than comfortable to wager Justise Winslow was going to the Pistons with the next pick. When Commissioner Silver next announced Stanley Johnson as the 8th pick to Detroit, a feeling of uncertainty may have crawled into the gut of Piston fans. Fear not.

Two players the same age and height. Both with plus character. Both strong with a knack for scoring in a variety different ways. Both lauded for their potential as future lock-down defenders and questioned about how their 3-point shot would transfer to the NBA. With nearly identical stats, it would seem choosing one would be a matter of opinion, yet many experts have or at least had the belief that Winslow would undoubtedly turn out the better pro.

Stan Van Gundy was not comfortable leaving his team’s 8th pick up to general consensus.  The Pistons staff researched thoroughly and were confident in their strategy days leading up to the draft. If SVG felt Winslow was the right guy, they would have taken him. Regardless of the outside opinion, Pistons management ultimately opted for the top player on their board, who thinks of himself as the “best player in the draft”.

The Pistons’ conviction in their drafting process has been quickly rewarded after “Stanimal” showcased one of the if not the very best 2015 Summer League performance in Orlando.

Johnson was a force to be reckoned with, providing a variety of contributions on both ends . He played hard and aggressively, often looking physically dominant, something teammate Reggie Jackson took notice of: “he’s a man among boys.”. “He’s going to continue to work on his three-point shot. He can make plays for us, and we expect him to be a problem defensively”.

Many experts now consider Stanley Johnson a front-runner to win Rookie of Year in 2015-16.  Much like a former Piston and Co-Rookie of the Year in ’94-’95 Grant Hill, it’s that talent + versatility of Stanley Johnson that makes him an asset. 

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Johnson, just 19, should be handled patiently if he struggles early. How he fits in Detroit’s rotation is still not clear with so many new pieces in play.  However if he brings his as-advertised versatile game and holds his own defensively, Stanley Johnson will see plenty action as long as he contributes. Now if that three-point shot drops at a decent rate, Stanley may prove to be the x-factor that helps get Detroit back to the postseason.

Stan Van Gundy was quoted saying, “This guy wants to be great, and he is willing to put in the time and effort to be great,” in reference to Stanley Johnson. After a summer that so far has shown a bright potential, Johnson will now look to prove his Coach’s words right. Whether or not the Red Wings bring home a cup, Pistons fans now have a Stanley we can be proud of.

Next: Andre Drummond poised for breakout season