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

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /


In August, Stan Van Gundy appeared on a podcast with Grantland’s Zach Lowe where he stated Stanley Johnson is a candidate to be the 2015-16 Pistons’ starting shooting guard.  What made the statement a headliner is the presence of 22-year-old Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the third-year shooting guard who started all 82 games for the Pistons this past season.

When you go 32-50, nobody’s got a spot locked in.” – Stan Van Gundy, via The Lowe Post podcast

Projected as a three-and-D wing, Johnson played shooting guard in college and has similar attributes to KCP albeit with more size.  In order to seize the spot, he will have to have a strong showing in training camp that gives Van Gundy faith that he can best KCP’s solid, if unspectacular, sophomore season.  Caldwell-Pope averaged 12.7 points and 3.1 rebounds and shot 34.5-percent from three and 40.1-percent overall while providing possibly the best perimeter defense Detroit had to offer.

Leading his team in scoring as a freshman while applying his illustrious defense, Johnson may be able to do just that.

If finding small forwards Johnson’s size is difficult, finding shooting guards with his measurements is nearly impossible.

Length will not be much of an issue against shooting guards in the NBA, but there are virtually none in his weight class.  Obviously, there are not many distinguished shooting guards who compare to Johnson, but the closest two are probably Lance Stephenson and Joe Johnson.

At just over 6-foot-6, Stanley Johnson falls right in between the heights of Stephenson and Joe Johnson.  J.J. is the only one of the two who is within five pounds of Johnson.  Similarly to the small forwards, Stanley Johnson’s standing reach falls short of both, but not quite as pronounced.  Just to reiterate, though, Johnson’s length should not inhibit him against guards, but it may not be enough to give him a clear advantage either.

At his best, Stephenson, who is about as wide as he is long, uses his girth, length and athleticism to be a defensive pest, menace while driving into the lane and solid shooter over defenders.  J.J. has been tormenting defenses for years with his length and ability to create looks off the dribble, but he also has a standing reach that is approximately three inches higher than Stanley Johnson’s which accentuates his one-on-one glory.

While Stanley Johnson may move well for someone his size, it has yet to be seen how well he will be able to keep up with NBA guards who are 25-plus pounds lighter than he is.  Offensively, if he does not prove quick enough, it could mitigate any upper hand his ball-handling can provide him.

Now, even if Johnson is just barely quick enough to hold his ground defensively, but can, on the offensive end he will have options as long as he can hit his open shots.  His size will allow him to post up the numerous smaller defenders he will see and make him a matchup nightmare in transition if it is only a shooting guard between him and the rim.

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