2015 NBA Draft Profile: Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson is the latest instance of a likely lottery pick in the NBA draft whose brief but largely stellar college career ended with a thud instead of a bang.
As was the case with Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, the first two selections a year ago, Johnson did not conclude his freshman season in resounding fashion. After leading Arizona in scoring all season, the 6-foot-7 forward was held to six points and two rebounds in 25 minutes before fouling out as the Wildcats lost to Wisconsin in the finals of the West Regional.
Johnson went 1 of 12 from the field a week earlier against Ohio State, a performance which was overshadowed for the most part by D’Angelo Russell’s dreadful 3-of-19 outing for the Buckeyes. But while Russell seems a cinch to go no worse than fourth in the draft, Johnson’s prospects aren’t quite as clear or bright.
The No. 3 recruit in his class coming out of high school, Johnson arrived at Arizona with high expectations. Despite reportedly never having lifted weights before getting to college, he weighed in at a solid 243 pounds and used that physique to average 6.5 rebounds a game to go along with his 13.8 points.
Aaron Gordon parlayed one year under Sean Miller into becoming the fourth pick in the draft last June by the Orlando Magic. Johnson won’t go that high, but falling to a team a year removed from the playoffs such as the Charlotte Hornets, the Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers might work out the best for him.
Like many small forward prospects, it’s on defense where Johnson should make the most immediate impact. He can guard up to three positions at the NBA level, with the size needed to harass smaller perimeter players along with the quickness to get into passing lanes and block shots.
Johnson usually doesn’t finish well around the basket, and he lacks outstanding leaping ability or a strong left hand. He may well develop those things in time, but as is usually the case with one-and-done players, patience to fix those flaws will be required by whatever organization selects him.
With his athleticism and chiseled frame for someone at his position, Johnson has been compared to Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, the MVP of the NBA Finals a year ago. Leonard spent two years in college and lasted until the 15th pick in the first round. Johnson’s physical style of play is similar to that of a young Ron Artest, but he doesn’t come with the emotional baggage that the player later known as Metta World Peace did.
Duke’s Justise Winslow is considered the most athletic small forward in the draft. Johnson is the more physical of the two. Only five small forwards went in the first round a year ago — Parker, Doug McDermott, T.J. Warren, James Young and Bruno Caboclo — and none of them played in as much as half of their team’s games.