The Detroit Pistons hoped Stanley Johnson would be its jack of all trades with his ability to facilitate, score, and defend. Through three seasons and a half, however, Johnson appeared to be a master of none, and a combination of coaching and playing time issues certainly did not help. Over the last few weeks, it looks like Johnson has finally turned a corner.
Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson has been a whole new player over the last few weeks.
**NOTE: This article was written prior to the Pistons game against the New Orleans Pelicans**
Check out his February numbers:
12.0 points per game
45% field goal percentage
33.3% three-point percentage
84.6% free throw shooting
10 field goal attempts per game
3.5 three points attempts per game
2.2 free throws per game
32.5 minutes per game
Guess how many of those categories are season highs on a month-by-month basis for 2017-18?
The answer is eight. Johnson has set season high numbers for the month in eight of the 12 categories provided, including field goal percentage.
In other words, as Johnson has played more minutes and taken more shots, he’s only become more productive and efficient.
Even more, Johnson has passed the eye test too.
Johnson’s numbers would be even better too, had it not been for foul trouble that limited him to under 20 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks.
Stanley Johnson truthers have no doubt enjoyed Johnson’s uptick in play which has coincidentally come after the trade Blake Griffin trade.
Since then, Johnson has played with more freedom, confidence, and his minutes have spike up too.
I think this is a direct result of Stan Van Gundy loosening the reins on Johnson. It’s like Greg Kessler said on one Pistons’ product recently, “It’s not like Stanley Johnson woke up one day and suddenly gained a bunch of skills” (paraphrased to some degree, as I can’t find the exact quote).
The point being, is Johnson has always had these skills. Johnson, however, has not always played this way.
My personal opinion is that Johnson either removed necessary pressures that he self imposed, or that Van Gundy has finally loosened the reins and let him play.
Either way, the Pistons need it to continue, because when Johnson plays like this, the Pistons are a completely different team–for the better.
The addition of James Ennis III was a good move for the Pistons. He bring a lot of what Johnson does, though his skill set might be a bit more polished in certain areas.
Johnson, also played significantly less minutes in Ennis’ first game, though again, that had as much if not more to do with foul trouble than Ennis’ presence.
That said, Van Gundy has been quick to pull minutes from Johnson in the past. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself, because I think Johnson is just scratching the surface of what he can be.