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

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /


For the Pistons, out is throwback post bruiser, rebound gobbler and reliable scorer Greg Monroe and in is new wave stretch-four Ersan Ilyasova.  While Ilyasova was imported to be the starter at power forward in exchange for spare roster parts, he has no track record with Van Gundy and it is reasonable to assume his spot in the starting rotation is not set in stone.

The proliferation of shooting forwards in frontcourts has made the ability to match and defend them critical.

Before the 2015 NBA Draft, Stanley Johnson made it clear that he feels with the emergence of the stretch-four he can excel as a power forward.  This is the position where his mass will be mostly a non-issue as it should enable him to hold his position defensively against traditionally bigger players and simultaneously not hinder him on the offensive end.

“I am bigger than [Draymond Green] and he is playing [center].” – Stanley Johnson, via The Detroit News

Using a player Johnson has compared himself to, Draymond Green, and another player who measures similarly in Paul Millsap, you find there are more differences than similarities below the surface.

First, Johnson does have comparable size as he is roughly the same height as the two and falls in the middle of them weight-wise, with Millsap weighing in at a behemoth-like 253 pounds – over 10 pounds heavier than Johnson.  The big contrast comes in at their standing reach:  both Millsap and Green dwarf Johnson’s standing reach by at least three inches.

Strength and size aside, the reason Green and Millsap can be effective power forwards is because they are so long.  Not only does it help defensively against their more vertically inclined opponents, but they both compete well for rebounds against those same players.  Both averaged north of 7.5 rebounds per game last season while routinely being at a height disadvantage.  Strong rebounding is a trait they shared even at the collegiate level where they were both far superior to Johnson as an Arizona freshman.

If Johnson is going to see a significant amount of minutes at power forward, he is going to have to prove his lack of reach is not going to be burdensome on defense and the boards.

Supposing he can prove just that, he will have a clear advantage offensively against players who figure to not be able to match him athletically.  On fast breaks, cuts to the basket, coming off screens and off the dribble he will be able to terrorize power forwards.

"“I feel I can be most dominant at the two, but I’m comfortable at the three and the four, too,” Johnson said at the combine. “The way the league is going, you got 6’2 players playing the two, 6’6 players playing the four.” – Stanley Johnson, via SBNation"

Next: Verdict