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SVG on Stanley Johnson: 'This guy wants to be great'

Pistons head honcho talks about why Stanley Johnson was the right pick for the Pistons at No. 8.

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In an often surprising and unpredictable NBA Draft, for Pistons lead executive and head coach Stan Van Gundy the choice was easy -- Stanley Johnson.

Yes, Duke's dynamo defensive forward Justise Winslow had surprisingly fallen and was available, but Van Gundy didn't waver. He followed his draft board, trusted his process and selected Johnson with the eighth overall pick in the NBA Draft.


For his defensive versatility. For his physicality. For his ability to get to the free-throw line. For his ability to run the break. He even called him the best rebounding wing in the draft.

But more than that it was about how his mental makeup made Stan a believer that he's just going to get better.

"This guy wants to be great, and he is willing to put in the time and effort to be great," Van Gundy said during the first round of the draft in a press conference with Pistons owner Tom Gores.

"I couldn't like his mentality and the way he approaches the game more than I do."

Van Gundy acknowledged that the team will need to work with Johnson to improve his shot mechanics, but he also pointed out some good indicators including the rotation on his shot and, crucially, that a lot of his attempts actually went into the hoop.

Johnson shot 37 percent on 3s during his freshman year in Arizona on 116 attempts. He averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals and was a key cog in one of the best defenses in college basketball last season.

There were many questions from the assembled media about whether the team was tempted when Winslow seemingly fell into the Pistons' lap, but Van Gundy didn't seem too keen on discussing in detail why he wasn't interested in the Duke product.

"The main reason people ask that question is that he's from Duke and he won the national championship," Van Gundy said. Eventually, he admitted that the discussion between who to draft didn't come down to Johnson vs. Winslow, but between Johnson and another, unnamed player.

Van Gundy also said that there was nonstop interest from other teams calling to see what it would take to pry Johnson away in a trade for a pick lower in the draft and other assets.

But Van Gundy said no, and is happy that he took the best player available on his board.

We have a belief that this guy not only has the game but the mentality that we need going forward," Van Gundy said. "Even as a rookie, I don't see him backing away from any challenge."