Stanley Johnson had a great summer league, fine preseason, and he looked loose and ready during warm ups of his first game in the NBA to really count. No sugarcoat, though: Stanley did not have a good rookie debut.
Johnson was the first player off the bench for the Pistons, checking in at the 4:48 mark of the first quarter. In his first five minutes of action, he missed his first two shots, neither of which were particularly close, and he turned the ball over once. He did settle down to make his next three shot attempts, including a three-pointer and this slick split-the-D penetration, but he missed his final five shots and finished the game just 3-of-10.
After the game, Johnson indicated that he wasn't as cool and calm as he may have appeared on the surface. In other words, the nickname Stanimal is just that; he's actually human.
"I was nervous to begin with." Johnson admitted. "I'm not going to lie to you guys. My first shot went off the glass and didn't hit the rim. The second one I'm not sure what happened. [Van Gundy] kept playing me. Eventually it came. As long as I play defense and play hard, he's going to play me. For me it was a good foundational learning block."
Stan Van Gundy thought Johnson competed well, but described his overall debut as "not awful."
It was his first game in the NBA against a very good team, so I think we should just chalk this up as the forgotten rookie debut and move along. Johnson will be all right.
(And if you ask others, they may tell you he impressed anyway.)
Here are Johnson's highlights from the game via @badboysremix:
Now your thoughts.