Stanley Johnson has added the hustle, strength, and size that the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster lacked in the first months of the 2021-22 season.
Head coach Frank Vogel said ahead of the final day of Johnson’s second 10-day contract that the forward’s toughness and athleticism are “sorely needed” on the team’s defense. But the 25-year-old Arizona alum knows he needs to be able to contribute on the offensive end, too. Johnson averaged 5.4 points during his time with the Lakers, shooting 45.9% from the field and 27.3% from downtown.
The former lottery pick said he keeps working on his jump shot, hoping he can take advantage of the good looks along the perimeter he occasionally enjoys during games.
“I think my focus is to bring energy and defense to the game,” Johnson said. “Obviously there’s two sides of the court, it’s not football where you can only play defense, and when I’m playing with such amazing players, I’m gonna be open and will get wide-open looks.
“Obviously I’ve been working my whole life, even coming into the league on being a better perimeter shooter and the more opportunities, the more you shoot the basketball at any point in time, the better you’re gonna get. So in my career, I’ve definitely missed enough of them to be making some of them now.”
Johnson emphasized assistant coach Mike Penberthy’s impact on his shooting technique. The forward said Penberthy had helped him rework his shot before the 2001 NBA champion began coaching in the Association.
“I’ve learned a lot in my life and actually the guy who I’ve worked with the most on my jump shot is Mike Penberthy,” Johnson said.
“He’s really helped me take strides and since he’s been with the Lakers, I haven’t been able to work with him. And now being on the Lakers, I’ve been able to work with him so it’s been really good being able to clean stuff up around the guy who kind of helped me re-do my shot a little when I was in high school and way before now.”
Johnson’s recorded a field goal percentage over 40% only twice in his career: during his time with the Lakers this season and over an 18-game stint with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2018-19.
Penberthy served as the Pelicans’ shooting coach that season, before joining Vogel’s staff in 2019.
Johnson hopes to “stick long-term” with Lakers
Johnson’s 10-day contract expired on Sunday with the Lakers yet to make a decision on the forward’s future. The player hopes he’s proved that he can be a valuable asset for L.A.
“Hopefully I’ve shown that I can be consistent, a good teammate, bring energy to the court, and just be a good professional overall,” Johnson said. “Obviously the goal is to get on the team and obviously stick long-term. That’s a goal of mine, if it happens it happens, I’ll be very excited about it.
“I think the team is gonna be really, really solid and I’ve really enjoyed myself while I’ve been here honestly. And we’ll kind of go from there, like we have a game tomorrow, I’ll deal with the game, and then after the game we can deal with that as well when it comes.”
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