Bulls Address Forward Depth by Signing ‘Defensive-Minded’ Player

Stanley Johnson

Getty Stanley Johnson

With the number of moves that the Chicago Bulls have made this offseason, their roster has experienced not only a revamping but an improvement as well. Among the Bulls’ most notable moves this offseason include acquiring Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan.

But even with the active offseason Chicago has had, one area on their roster that has needed to be addressed is the power forward spot. This became an even greater need since trading away Lauri Markkanen.

On Monday, the Bulls made a move to fill the void at power forward.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Johnson has agreed to a deal with the Bulls. Bulls insider K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago also confirmed the signing. The contract is a non-guaranteed deal, per Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Johnson, a free agent, comes to Chicago following two seasons with the Toronto Raptors. During the 2020-21 season, Johnson averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.9 steals in 16.5 minutes per game.

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What Johnson Has to Offer the Bulls

Johnson is a 6-foot, 6-inch forward who was drafted with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. So while he has experience playing both the three and four spots, he is a little undersized for a power forward.

Offensively, Johnson has not been much of a threat. Throughout the six seasons he has played in the NBA, his field goal percentage for the regular season has never exceeded 38.9%, which came during the 2018-19 season. This past year, the forward neared his career-best field goal percentage by shooting 38.2% from the field.

He also doesn’t have much of a 3-point shot. For the 2020-21 season, he averaged 2.2 3-point field goal attempts per game, making 32.8% of them. That percentage, however, is his career-best from long range.

Johnson’s true value comes from his defensive skills.

NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson called the Bulls’ new forward a “defensive-minded wing.” The 25-year-old forward was a key component of the Raptors’ defense last year. Mike Luciano at Raptors Rapture mentioned that Johnson became a rotation player for the Raptors because of the defensive versatility he provided.

Patrick Williams Needs to Play Aggressive Given Johnson Addition

One of the biggest criticisms of Patrick Williams’ play during his rookie season was the lack of aggression he showed on the offensive end. His defense was something the Bulls could consistently rely on, and he played well enough to maintain his spot in the starting lineup throughout the entire season.

But his offense was another story.

Williams showed potential to be an offensive threat but failed to capitalize on it. If Williams doesn’t grow as a scorer, the Bulls will have two similar players in him and Johnson. This could then leave them having to overly rely on rookie Marko Simonović to be the big man scoring threat off the bench.

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