The Los Angeles Lakers are giving a chance to former top-ten pick Stanley Johnson to resurrect his career. The South Bay Lakers, the team’s G-League affiliate squad, announced that the franchise has signed Johnson to a new deal.
The Pistons selected Johnson with the No. 8 pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, but the forward has yet to live up to his lottery pick status. Johnson averaged 6.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists over his six NBA seasons. If Johnson makes it to the Lakers’ active roster, it would mark the fourth NBA team of his career with previous stops in Detroit, New Orleans and Toronto.
“Stanley Johnson, drafted No. 8 overall by Detroit in the 2015 NBA Draft, is relaunching his career with the Lakers’ [G-League] affiliate,” NBA insider Marc Stein tweeted.
Most recently, the former highly-touted prospect played 61 games (including 13 starts) for the Raptors during the 2020-21 season. Johnson averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 16.5 minutes per game. Johnson had a short stint with the Bulls during the preseason before being cut as Chicago finalized their roster. The forward will not offer the Lakers much help from long range as Johnson is just a 29.8% career three-point shooter.
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Johnson Has a Path to Making the Lakers’ NBA Roster
Could Johnson ultimately land on the Lakers’ NBA roster? Given the team’s recent injury woes, Johnson has a path back to the NBA if he performs well in the G-League. Here is how the G-League website describes the call-up process.
“A Call-Up occurs when a player under contract with the NBA G League is signed by an NBA team to an NBA contract,” the league detailed. “More than 30 NBA G League prospects have received a GATORADE Call-Up in each of the past eight seasons.”
Johnson faces a challenging path to making it back to the NBA but has the talent to play in the league. While with the Pistons, Johnson caught the eye of former teammate Reggie Jackson.
“Just to see Stanley’s maturation and growth at 21, he’s one of the younger statesmen, but mentally, he’s strong and just wants to win,” Jackson told The Detroit News in September 2017. “He’s been vocal, tells you what he sees and he’s brutally honest. He wants to win every play and to be the best in the gym. He’s honestly been a player that stands out so far in my eyes in camp.”
Johnson Was a Highly-Touted Prospect Coming out of Arizona
Johnson may not have lived up to the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 8 selection, but he was highly regarded after his freshman season at Arizona. The forward averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 37.1% from behind the three-point line with the Wildcats. Here is how NBA.com’s Kyle Ratke described Johson in his 2015 draft profile.
“The first thing you notice about Johnson is that he has the body of an NBA player,” Ratke detailed. “He should be able to handle the daily grind of the NBA. Despite the NBA body, he struggles at the basket. Often times he tries to go through defenders. Sometimes it works, but in the NBA, it definitely won’t work unless a much smaller player is guarding him.
“Judging by his percentages in college, it looks like he’ll develop into a three-point shooter at the next level, which is certainly a plus in today’s NBA.
“Defensively, he’ll almost immediately be able to guard both guard spots and the small forward position. Depending on whether or not the opposing team goes small, he might even be able to guard a power forward with his strength. Like most young players, he takes plays off, but that’s something the coaches at the next level will make sure doesn’t happen. If it does, he’ll find himself on the bench.”