Detroit Pistons: What Will Be Stanley Johnson’s Best Position?

2 of 5
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /


The 2014-15 Pistons’ largest roster hole was at small forward.  According to, the Pistons’ small forwards collectively had the lowest efficiency rating, differential in efficiency and free throws attempted and the second lowest amount of rebounds corralled per game in the NBA.

Needless to say, they needed help at small forward and it weighed heavily in their selection of Stanley Johnson.

As a freshman at Arizona, Stanley Johnson averaged more rebounds, 6.5 to 5.5, and free throws attempted per game, 4.7 to 1.7, than all of the Pistons small forwards combined.  Furthermore, coupled with former teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the wing, he helped lead Arizona to the third best defense in college basketball, according to

Stanley Johnson has a unique profile that is not easily duplicated.  His height, weight and skill set potentially translate into one of the bigger wing players in the NBA.

But that is just it; there are no prominent small forwards in the league who were drafted in the last 15 years that are relatively his stature.  His closest current contemporaries are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, at the lower end, and Carmelo Anthony, at the higher.

Live Feed

Three former first-round picks the Miami Heat should take a chance on
Three former first-round picks the Miami Heat should take a chance on /

All U Can Heat

  • Bucks: 5 NBA free agents who might be worth considering later on Behind the Buck Pass
  • Reflections on the Pac-12, the Arizona Wildcats, and other memories Zona Zealots
  • 5 biggest warning signs for an NBA Draft bust FanSided
  • These under the radar free agents could help the Bucks at small forward Behind the Buck Pass
  • Potential Boston Celtics wing addition 'wouldn't sniff the floor' if signed Hardwood Houdini
  • Johnson outweighs the two aforementioned with Anthony being in striking range.  MKG and Melo are at least a full inch taller than Johnson, but more importantly they eclipse his 8-foot-6 standing reach by over two inches.  This could present a problem against NBA-level small forwards.

    Melo and MKG use their length to separate them from their peers, Melo offensively and MKG to disrupt defensively.

    Johnson, who notoriously has a low release point on his jumper, could find it difficult finding his shot against longer, more athletic players than he saw at Arizona.  Laterally, he should be able to stick with small forwards, but they may be able to consistently shoot over him if they can gain a step or when he is caught out of position.

    Again, despite his vertical limitations, Stanley Johnson moves quite well for someone his size.  If his three-point shooting of 37- and 40-percent in college and the Orlando Summer League, respectively, translates on his open opportunities with the Pistons, his quickness and ball-handling ability will be a clear advantage for him against opponents who are closing out on him.  He will be able to create shots for himself and others and make moves towards the basket for floaters and layups.

    Next: Shooting Guard