You always hear the same things from NBA rookies: They are trying to learn the NBA game, they are trying to adjust to the speed of the game. All of these things are difficult for most rookies. Stanley Johnson made it look easy in his first preseason game by notching 26 points while mostly playing out of position at point guard. Back in what will likely be his natural position on the Pistons, the rookie did not have as much of an impact against the Brooklyn Nets, but still continued to impress.
Let's face it, the game against the Nets was difficult to watch.
As exciting as the first preseason game was, this is the exact opposite.— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) October 9, 2015
The Pistons coughed up the ball 21 times which surprisingly led to only 24 points for Brooklyn. Unfortunately, when you turn the ball over that often, your defense is going to suffer. And if your defense is suffering, your offense (mainly your shooting) needs to be that much better if you want a chance to win. That was not the case for the Pistons Thursday night against the Nets.
However, not everything from the game was a negative. One of those bright spots was the continuing development of Johnson. A statline of 26 points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals is difficult to follow up in your first non-Summer League NBA sanctioned game. Without the ball in his hands as much as it was against the Pacers, Johnson fell victim to the play of Reggie Jackson and Spencer Dinwiddie. The result was a 5-for-11 shooting night (2-for-3 from deep) for 12 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. That is more than acceptable for a rookie.
Johnson also continued to show endurance. Going from college to the NBA requires an adjustment to the change of pace. Coming out of the first week of training camp which included four days of two practices each day, Stan Van Gundy said the only player who had their legs under them still was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. After an off day Sunday, and another practice on Monday, Johnson led the team with 34 minutes against the Pacers. He was third on the team in minutes with 29 against the Nets. Both games playing more than Marcus Morris who going into camp is the presumed starter at small forward.
Without the ball in his hands, Johnson was also unable to get to the free-throw line. Johnson was able to get to the free throw line nine times in the game against the Pacers, but did not get to the line at all against the Nets. He was a 74.2-percent free-throw shooter in college and connected on 7-of-9 against the Pacers. For a team who has been a bad free-throw shooting team for some years now, getting our good free throw shooters to the line should be a priority.
However, there is still caution to be had. This, again, was just a preseason game. One against the B-squad of the Nets. But you cannot argue that the effort and confidence are not there. Both of his steals were intercepting (bad) passes which resulted in fast break opportunities. On one of those, after a missed Anthony Tolliver three point attempt, Johnson was back down court ready to block a shot and then push it up the floor again.
Has your confidence in Stanley Johnson grown to his own confidence in himself? Should he get the ball in his hands more often and be allowed to create? What say you DBB?