Sticking with the good vibes from Sunday’s victory in Los Angeles over the Lakers, I’d like to highlight Stanley Johnson’s improved play as of late, which has been reason for many of us not to bang our heads in *all the way* and call this season anything but salvageable.
Yes, let’s keep a clear head if we can— because as some have mentioned in the comments, right now (this the afternoon of January 16) only three games separate Detroit from the fifth seed and only five and a half games separate Detroit from the Atlanta Hawks at the fourth seed. To sum up — the Pistons have been bad, but not extremely bad.
Back to Stanley’s latest performance. He was four for nine from the field against the Lakers in 34 minutes. He added six assists as well. Now over his last three games, he’s averaging nine points on 58 percent shooting, including 56 percent from three. Though below I will just focus on some of the shots Stanley took from the field in LA.
You can see Stanley quickly check the clock as it’s winding down under six — then as he catches the ball from Ish he’s already in prime position to make a play. Rookie Brandon Ingram is not quite ready for it. But, the best part of this is how Stanley is patient and takes the extra step toward the basket and pump-fakes, causing Ingram to be a bit off balanced, even though he didn’t really bite on it. Stanley’s crisp foot work and patience was just enough to get off a decent shot in close, much better than a rushed jump shot from the foul line over the long arms of Ingram.
During much of the season when Stanley goes up for a jump shot it looks as if he’s aiming the shot instead of naturally shooting the shot. Stanley seems to shoot this one effortlessly — like he’s in a zone and shooting from memory, shooting from countless hours of practice. Naturally.
Stanley was again confident and deliberate in his move here from the very beginning, and it was a smart choice considering he had the much smaller Lou Williams checking him (and backpedaling).
Confidence is a beautiful, beautiful thing, ain’t it? Also, patience with a plan in mind is pretty nice as well. Stanley knew exactly what he wanted to do against Ingram — there was no stopping him. He sure hazed the young rook pretty good.
Baby step though, baby steps. Stanley has got a lot to turn around and improve, and it’s not all going to happen in the span of a just few games (or one game, in this case). With this shot Stanley seems to hesitate just a bit and, from my point of view, guides the shot (or ‘aims’ it as I wrote prior). It’s not a bad shot in the sense that Ingram isn’t really up tight on him, though as it’s very early in the shot clock, perhaps Stanley could have bullied Ingram by taking him to the cup. It’s alright though, as you saw in an above clip, Stanley did bully Ingram later in the fourth.
What did you guys see in Stanley recently that you liked? Do you think he turned an actual corner in LA? Let us know your thoughts.