Detroit Pistons’ head coach Stan Van Gundy has taken the tough love approach with Stanley Johnson, illustrated by his short leash. Is Van Gundy handling Johnson the right way?
The Detroit Pistons have taken a very stern approach with Stanley Johnson in his second year. If Johnson doesn’t perform to expectations, if his energy dips, or if he makes a mistake, he’s going to sit.
Van Gundy said as much when explaining why Johnson didn’t see the floor in the second half against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday (and he barely played in Brooklyn last night).
Via Detroit Free Press:
“He wasn’t locked in, game planwise, at all on Jarell Eddie,” Van Gundy said. “So he gives up a three, doesn’t make the adjustment to play the way we’re supposed to on the second one, gets the foul on the second one and was more concerned about the ref’s call. … I’m trying to talk to him, and he’s trying to talk to the ref.
“More concerned about the ref’s call than doing what he’s supposed to do. And then I look at the plus-minus at halftime and I just think, ‘We’ll go a different route in the second half.’”
A few thoughts here. Is this fair? Is this the right way to handle Johnson?
Van Gundy has shown in the past that he is willing to bench players for coming out with little to no energy. The problem, however, is that he’s given other players a much longer leash, even if they are repeat offenders (Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson).
Then again, you could argue said players have a longer leash because they are veterans and because they contribute more to the team.
To directly answer the first question, I don’t think this is fair. If anything, veterans should be held to higher standards. Besides the NBA is a game that you need to play so that the game slows down. This isn’t to say self practice and work ethic aren’t important, it’s just that it only goes so far.
To answer the second question, I don’t think this is the right way to handle Johnson. If he’s not bringing the right amount of effort, I think you have to let him know what is needed from him and give him an opportunity to correct it, versus sitting him the rest of the game.
Johnson is a very talented player, even if he can be self-harming and difficult to coach at times. I think Van Gundy should loosen the reins a bit and lets Johnson work through his struggles. He should absolutely continue to guide him and maintain high expectations, but letting him play through struggles might be best for the long game, particularly with the team being as mediocre as it is.