Stanley Johnson addresses last season’s struggles and versatility

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 07: Stanley Johnson
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 07: Stanley Johnson /

Stanley Johnson had a tough season last year for the Detroit Pistons, but he wasn’t alone in his struggles. He spoke on the topic at media day.

Stanley Johnson had a sophomore season to forget last year for the Detroit Pistons, but he wasn’t the only Piston who won’t remember 2016-17 fondly. 2017-18 will be a new start in many ways, both for the team in Little Caesars Arena, and for Johnson and his teammates it has the potential to be a time of rebirth.

With the departure of Marcus Morris, Johnson is pushed up in the pecking order for minutes at forward and has the best opportunity to start at small forward that he’s had in his young career. At media day on Monday, he expressed his thoughts on starting versus simply getting a lot of minutes.

“Obviously starting is a good thing, it shows you’re the elite of the team. For the aspirations I have in my career, I have to be elite on my team to be elite in the league. But at the end of the day, it’s all about how much you’re playing and if you’re on the court with the right people at the right time. If I’m on the court for 30, 40 minutes, I don’t really care who’s starting, I just want to play.”

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Consistent minutes were hard to come by last season for Johnson. He had multiple DNP-CD’s and a one-game suspension by the time the New Year hit. He hit his stride in February with the bench lineup of Ish Smith, Tobias Harris, Aron Baynes and a wing, but even then was on the bad end of a notoriously short leash. During a playoff run, a missed assignment in a game against the Phoenix Suns got him pulled after just a few minutes on the floor, never to return. He was DNP-CD’ed the next game.

A young player given no room to struggle and sort through things is bound to struggle, and struggle Stanley Johnson did. He should have more room to find his way this season, and both Johnson and the Detroit Pistons organization seem to have learned lessons after last season’s failures.

Johnson confirmed this.

“I think last year was more a mental thing than a physical thing, and I think my communication level with my coaches. I’m in a better position to play more. Personally, I made some adjustments myself, I’m in a better position to have a better season this year.”

One of Johnson’s biggest assets is his versatility. He can guard twos and threes, and in theory could guard both ones and fours as well. This will help him stay on the floor, regardless of how his offense shakes out.

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“Hopefully I can play three or four positions this year at a high level. I got to the NBA off straight versatility, that’s why I got picked. I’d like to see that being used. If that’s at the two, the four, wherever. That’s what we want to see.”