Lakers News: LeBron James Names Stanley Johnson As One Of Better Defenders He’s Faced
LeBron James, Stanley Johnson, Lakers
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have a pivotal offseason ahead of them as they need to find players to help them close the gap between them and the top-tier teams of the league.

Offensively, the Lakers were able to hit their stride during the 2023-24 season but their defense was middling at best. Despite a strong season from Anthony Davis, Los Angeles struggled to get stops especially in the postseason against the Denver Nuggets.

LeBron James has seen just about every defense imaginable throughout his career and has had his fair share of postseason battles with players. On the “Mind the Game” podcast with JJ Redick, James named Stanley Johnson as one of the more underrated defenders he faced during their playoff series in 2018:

“I think it was my first year back in Cleveland on a return and it was our first-round opponent, I think we played Detroit, if I’m not mistaken. I think KCP was on that team, (Andre) Drummond was on that team, a couple of other guys was on that team, obviously Moose (Greg Monroe) was on that team, I believe. I think Stan (Van Gundy) was coaching, if I’m not mistaken. I think Stan was coaching that team. But back to your question, Stanley Johnson he earned my respect in that first-round series. Stanley Johnson, he had the lateral movement, he had the physicality. You can tell the coaching staff told him ‘Don’t worry about the schemes.’ I feel like the same thing with Dort, don’t worry about the schemes yet. Everybody’s switching but you. You get through every screen. If you weakside lowman, you have no responsibility, you don’t pull in. You’re basically playing a box-and-one. There’s a lot more guys, obviously, I would give credit to defensively but that’s the one guy off the top of my head. It’s not recent memory, it’s 10 years ago but it’s recent enough. But Stanley definitely possessed those skills in our league, for sure.”

A former lottery pick, Johnson became known as a rugged defender who could guard 1-4 and held his own against James, who was still near the peak of his powers in 2018. The two later became teammates in Los Angeles and Johnson’s previous experience defending James earned himself some respect from one of the greatest players of all time.

Considering Johnson has struggled to stay in the league in recent years, maybe this vote of confidence from someone like James will help land him a job this summer.

Lakers’ LeBron James gets standing ovation while sitting courtside at Cavaliers-Celtics game

LeBron James will be beloved in Cleveland forever after he helped deliver the franchise’s first championship. James was recently sitting courtside for the Cavaliers’ Game 4 against the Boston Celtics and got a standing ovation from the crowd and tribute video from the organization.

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