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NBA draft Pistons prospect breakdown: Stanley Johnson

How does the freshman Wildcat fit into the Pistons plans?

Harry How/Getty Images

Occasionally, I have these pearls of wisdom, a bit like the great man Confucius himself.  I call them Quaganese Principles.  Here are a few:

"Tumblr is like if Instagram and Reddit had a baby."

"Wikipedia is the eHarmony for famous people."

"You don't begin to feel old until there are professional athletes younger than you."

Yep, that last one is finally catching up to me.  Let's examine it.  Aaron Gordon, the youngest player in the NBA last year (I think) was born on September 16, 1995.  That is only 45 days before my birthday on Oct. 31.  Now, with the newest college freshmen coming into the NBA, it just gets scary.  Stanley Johnson was born on May 29, 1996.  That is stupid.  It makes me feel super old.  I think of people born in the year after me as babies, and yet they're all tatted up and ready to go pro.  Guys like Justise Winslow, Emmanuel Mudiay, D'Angelo Russell, and Stanley Johnson, all born in 1996, ready to make millions of dollars while I sit around and blog about them for free.  Ok, now that my midlife crisis is over, let's get to the point of the article.  How does Stanley Johnson, the wing the Pistons are reportedly zeroing in on, fit in Detroit, ?

Physical Stats

Let's start with his measurables.  At the draft combine, Johnson measured at 6'5" without shoes with a 6'11.5" wingspan.  He's 6'6.5" with shoes on, so, according to NBA rounding methods, he'll probably be listed at 6'7".  While his height may be slightly underwhelming, the appeal comes in Johnson's frame, which is a bull-like 242 pounds.  He was measured as the heaviest small forward in the combine (along with Jonathan Holmes), and absolutely towers weight-wise over the likes of Justise Winslow (222), Sam Dekker (219), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (211) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (203).  His body fat percentage is around average for the combine, at 7.5%, but is still less than guys like D'Angelo Russell (8.3), Devin Booker (8.3), Montrezl Harrell (11.9) and Trey Lyles (12.1) and Myles Turner (9.3).  Draft Express has compared him physically to Jae Crowder, in terms of length and frame, and Crowder has gone on to be a very productive player for an undersized small forward.

Style of Play

In terms of actual style of play, Johnson is known as someone who can space the floor, but will be a good defender right away.  He's an excellent rebounder for his position, grabbing 6.5 per game last season.  His main contribution to the Pistons, however, will be to provide a three-point threat, and solid defense.  In his lone season at Arizona, Johnson averaged 19.4 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per 40 minutes.  He actually averaged just under 14 points in 28 minutes per game, so he has shown the ability to be productive in smaller amounts of playing time.  He also shot a very respectable 43-116 from three, a 37-percent clip.


If Johnson is drafted by the Pistons, barring a surprise free agent signing, he will probably start at small forward.  He'll be expected to contribute mainly on the defensive end while providing some floor spacing on offense.  Stan Van Gundy has stated that he doesn't run a lot of plays for his small forwards, and that is likely to continue next year with Johnson as a starter.  I expect the main offense will be Jackson-Drummond pick and rolls, with some Jackson/Jennings isolation, and Greg Monroe post ups if he returns Ersan Ilyasova.  Johnson's role on offense will be similar to that of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's in his rookie season, largely relegated to standing in the corner and waiting for open looks.  This will actually be important this year, as Reggie Jackson has shown an ability to fling one-handed cross-court passes with surprising accuracy, finding shooters on the weak side out of the pick and roll.  If Johnson, and also KCP, can hit their threes at a decent clip, it will open up more space for others, such as driving lanes for Reggie Jackson as the help defense will be concerned with leaving open shooters alone.

Johnson is listed on a lot of mock drafts at No. 9, but don't be surprised if the Pistons take him one spot ahead of the projected slot, especially if he's still there.  Johnson has said that he knows Jackson through a mutual friend, and Andre Drummond since high school, so he could be the right guy for the Pistons.

What say you, DBB?