One of the few positives to come out of last season for the Los Angeles Lakers was the emergence of forward Stanley Johnson. Originally a lottery pick of the Detroit Pistons back in 2015, Johnson was not on a roster at the outset of the 2021 regular season.
The Lakers would sign Johnson on Christmas Eve via the NBA’s hardship exception, and he became an extremely important part of the team’s rotation thanks to his defense and energy. Ultimately the Lakers deemed him too important to let go, signing him to a two-year contract.
The second year of that contract contained a team option and with how well Johnson played last season, it should come as no surprise that the team is expected to pick up that option for the 2022-23 season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:
The expectation around the NBA is the Los Angeles Lakers will exercise the $2.35 million team option on forward Stanley Johnson. New Lakers coach Darvin Ham publicly stressed the importance of role players like Johnson. Johnson shot a career-high 46.6 percent with the Lakers.
This is a pretty easy decision for the Lakers as Johnson undoubtedly earned his opportunity to stick around next season. Additionally, with the team well over the salary cap thanks to the contracts of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis, the Lakers need players who can contribute on cheap contracts and Johnson fits the bill.
Where Johnson really shined last season was as a small-ball power forward. His perimeter shooting remains a weak point, but putting him at the four allowed the Lakers to be extremely versatile and switchable defensively, which is where Johnson shines. He also shot a career-high 46.6% from the field after never reaching the 40% mark in any season previously.
Despite seven years in the NBA, Johnson is still only 26 years old and has room for improvement. New head coach Darvin Ham is known for his player development skills and likely sees some of himself in Johnson as a physical, athletic, defensive-minded forward that he could get the best out of.
Stanley Johnson stresses importance of doing dirty work for Lakers
To that point, Johnson understands that his role is not to be the star scorer or offensive creator for a team. Every great team needs great role players who star at what they do best and Johnson knows that doing the dirty work and those little things is where he shines.
“I think it’s a team. It’s a team, everyone has their roles,” Johnson said. “Everybody can’t be doing that, so there needs to be someone else to be scoring and doing other stuff like that. I think it’s more of a thing just let’s get the guys who are supposed to be doing those things, doing ’em at a high level. Being a star in your role, being a super star in your role whatever that is and getting the guys that do what they do to do that at a high level as well. Those things need to come together at the same time, if you get what I’m saying.”
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