Stanley Johnson rejuvenated his career after joining the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021-22 season.
Even though L.A. failed to qualify for the playoffs, the team evidently benefited from the hustle and defensive skills Johnson brought with him upon signing with the Lakers. The former lottery pick clocked in 22.8 minutes per night over 48 games in a purple and gold jersey, racking up 27 starts and averaging 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
Former head coach Frank Vogel said Johnson proved himself to be a valuable role player for the Lakers. But considering a new play-caller will lead the Lakers in 2022-23 and that the forward’s contract includes a team option for the next season, Johnson understands his future with the team doesn’t entirely lay in his hands.
“I think that’s a question for Rob and Kurt,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I kind of work until June 30th, my job is with the Los Angeles Lakers. And when I go into my summer that will be my mindset until I’m notified differently. At that point in time, we can deal with that when we get there.
“But me getting better as a basketball player, like the role that I had here and the things I do here are the things I can excel at I think on any team. It wouldn’t change my work ethic, and I think we have some of the best staff in the world. Mike, Phil, especially those guys who I work with the most this year, so it wouldn’t make a difference where I trained or how I prepared.
“I said we want to prepare this way with these guys. I think we’re all excited about getting back in the gym to take a couple weeks off and get back in there.”
Johnson emphasized the role of his work ethic in putting his career back on track, adding he will continue to work hard for the betterment of the team if given a chance.
“I think a lot of the stuff is you make enough mistakes eventually you’ll get it right,” he said. “I missed a lot of shots, I made a lot of mistakes early in my career. I had a chance to watch the film and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to change it myself. I think for me, I take pride in what I do, I take pride in working hard, I take pride in playing well.
“And that’s what I try to do every time I get on the court is try to help my team win and play well.”
Johnson thinks Lakers players need to lead in steadying ship after disastrous 2021-22
After learning about Vogel’s firing, Johnson said it will be the players’ responsibility to improve upon the horror 2021-22 season, regardless of who takes over as head coach.
“[W]e are wearing the jerseys, we’re the person that’s playing, we’re the people…us personally, Russ, myself, everybody on the team,” he said,
“There ain’t nobody who can come in and change it for us. We can get the best coach in the league, but still, we have to go out there and put the effort in. We were probably 30th in defense this year. Every game 130, like every game? That’s on us. I don’t know another way to think about it.
“The only way to get better at things is to want to acknowledge what you did wrong. You have to start there. If you’re not OK with acknowledging those things, there’s no way you can look in the mirror and get better at things.”
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