2016/2017 Season Recap/Notes: Stanley Johnson
This is the 8th season recap, we are almost through all of the regular rotation guys.
Defense, defense, defense. After a very rough start to the season in all areas, Stanley remained inconsistent (to put it kindly) on the offensive end, but on the defensive end he made a big step, dare I say leap, in the right direction. He was guarding point guards one possession and forwards the next, coming out of nowhere for blocks and steals, and generally making his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor. SVG said after the season that Stanley's main priority has to be to become an elite defensive player, and Stanley clearly started to truly take that to heart this season and it showed.
Also in good news is that Stanley was a member of the Pistons awesome midseason bench mob. I don't know how much of that success is actually due to Stanley Johnson given that he was sharing the floor with Ish (excellent backup) and Tobias (like cheating to come off the bench), but he gets some credit for at the very least not ruining anything. And based on the eye test, I would say he does get some credit as his energy on both sides of the ball is the type that just makes your team better.
Lastly, is that there is some good to glean from the offensive end, despite putting up miserable numbers (and they were miserable, make no mistake) Stanley still showed flashes ball handling and playmaking that you don't often see in 6'7 20 year olds. He may not ever figure out how to be any good on offense, but there are still those flashes that make it foolish to give up on him already.
With that said, his offense was bad this year, no way around that. He put up a TS% of 43.6%. That is comically bad, so much so that regardless of what flashes he shows, his offensive game is officially a worry heading into next season. While it is worth noting that all his numbers are dragged down a bit by his horrendous early season play, even later in the year they didn't get that impressive. The only good thing that really happened to his offense is that he was able to pass the ball better and turn it over less (per 36 at least) but considering that he was handling the ball a whole lot less that is somewhat to be expected. To put it quite simply, Stanley needs to find some way in which he is able to consistently get the ball in the hoop, whether that is learning to shoot 3s at a respectable rate, using his size to bully smaller guys inside, drawing fouls, hitting pullups out of the pick and roll, whatever. He needs one of those things to start working for him.
It started to click defensively this year, and the sky really is the limit for Stanley on that end. And one thing that is important to remember is that it was not a sure thing that he would figure it out, there are lots of guys who come in as good athletes and everyone assumes they will be awesome defenders and then they just never are. Props to Stanley, and his defensive development is a nice plus for SVG in the player development department. (an area in which he could use a few pluses)
Kind of two questions but I'm going to roll it into one: What is he? Is he a shooting guard or a small forward long term? Or possibly even a small ball 4? On offense is he going to be a ball handling forward or an off ball player? The problem is that he shows promise in so many areas, but isn't actually any good at any of them yet, admittedly there are far worse problems to have, but it is a problem. I think he would be best off essentially picking one thing offensively and working like a maniac at it so that he can have a clear role in which he can be useful in. Because as he is, he is a liability on offense, and he needs to have some sort of base to stand on. One thing about his position, is that other factors may decide that for him. So if, for instance, KCP walks this summer, he may be a shooting guard whether he likes it or not, or if the Pistons decided to unload Tobias/Marcus in a salary dump (or something else) he may be a full time forward whether he likes it or not. Once again, there is a ton of stuff he could potentially be good at, but they need to figure out what they want him to be.
Verdict for this year and beyond:
The numbers he put up on offense were terrible, and it is a major concern going forwards. HOWEVA, He is only just about to turn 21 (next week according to basketball reference) and shows enough promise that he could still be very good on that end, and he made a great leap on defense to the point that he could be on his way to an all NBA caliber defender in a couple of years. So while it was, in many ways, a disappointing year for Stanley, but there is plenty of good to take from this season that can give Pistons fans optimism about his future.
What do you think? What position should he play? What role should he play?