Season Review: Stanley Johnson was the Right Pick

Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Bower, and the rest of the Pistons front office gave Piston fans a scare on NBA Draft night last June. With Duke standout small forward Justise Winslow on the board at No. 8, the Pistons took Arizona wing Stanley Johnson.

The NBA fanbase took notice, and so did multiple national writers, including Chad Ford of ESPN.

Stanley Johnson’s rookie season was very good, before he went down with a shoulder injury late in the regular season. He was playing much better before the injury, but his numbers took a dip as he struggled to regain form after the injury. He averaged 9.1 points per game before the All-Star break, and finished the season averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Johnson was not always the most consistent offensive option, but one of the main reasons Stan Van Gundy drafted him, was for his defense. Johnson proved all season long that he was a NBA ready defender.

He even developed a go to play, the steal and slam.


One thing that never changed throughout the season, was Johnson’s confidence. LeBron James and the NBA saw that firsthand in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.


That was some pretty good defense, plus a some shoving by both of them.

LeBron did not take Johnson’s physicality too kindly.

To make a comparison between Johnson and Winslow, here’s a look at their stats throughout their seasons.

Justise Winslow: 28.6 minutes per game, 6.4 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 42.2 FG%, 27.6 3PT%, 68.4 FT%

Stanley Johnson: 23.1 minutes per game, 8.1 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per ga,e, 37.5 FG%, 30.7 3P%, 78.4 FT%

Let’s not knock Winslow, he had a good season, but Johnson had a better rookie campaign.

If Johnson does not struggle through the slump he suffered after the shoulder injury, he would have finished the season averaging around 10 points per game. His season was most impressive due to the way he developed throughout the season. He became a better finisher at the basket, progressed on his jumper, and continuously made improvement on his decision-making, which was his biggest weakness throughout the season.

Chad Ford was wrong. Stanley Johnson was the right pick. He had just as good if not better season than Winslow, and that is not a hot take, it is a fact. The numbers prove it. Stanley Johnson is a confident, young, potential oozing forward, who can become one of the best small forwards in the league down the line, and he wouldn’t tell you any different. In fact, he would likely say he’d become the best small forward in the league.

Let’s wait and see what the future holds on that matter.

Featured image via: USA Today Sports


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