The Los Angeles Lakers brought in a number of big names in the offseason, but somewhat surprisingly it has been the lesser-known players who have made major impacts. Players such as Malik Monk and Austin Reaves have become crucial parts of Frank Vogel’s rotation, but arguably no player came from out of nowhere more than Stanley Johnson.
A former lottery pick out of the University of Arizona and Mater Dei High School in Southern California, Johnson actually began this season not on a roster and was signed by the Lakers to a 10-day contract via the NBA’s hardship exemption due to coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.
Johnson played so well that the Lakers would sign him for the rest of the season with a team option for next year as well and one thing Vogel loves about is what he brings on the defensive end.
“He’s got a great versatility defensively,” Vogel said. “He has, obviously, the foot speed to guard smaller guys, but the upper body strength to bang with bigger guys. When you have a guy like that, you can put him on multiple matchups and obviously do a lot of switching as well. But he elevates our toughness is the easiest way to put it.”
Vogel is all about defense, so obviously a player like Johnson appeals to him, but the seven-year veteran has earned his spot in the Lakers’ starting lineup with his play on the court. His energy is infectious and his versatility is necessary on a Lakers team devoid of lockdown defenders.
Johnson basically operates as a power forward and can hang with all but the strongest of centers, but is also capable of guarding quicker wings which gives Vogel a ton of different options when devising game plans against other stars. Additionally, Johnson is shooting a career-high 48% from the field as well so his confidence is gaining on that end of the floor as well.
With Anthony Davis down for the time being, it will take a team effort to help uplift the Lakers through this stretch and there is no doubt that Johnson will do everything possible to contribute positives to this team.
Vogel believes Johnson, Horton-Tucker compliment Lakers veterans
Vogel has been searching for the right lineups and rotations to maximize the Lakers on both ends of the court and he has made note of both Johnson and Talen Horton-Tucker as great complements to the Lakers’ veterans.
“We need their young legs,” Vogel said at a recent practice. “That energy that they bring to the table on our group is a compliment to our vets. We need those guys playing with the energy that they’re playing with and the confidence that they’re playing with.”
In particular about Johnson Vogel noted, “Stanley’s been a breath of fresh air for us since he got here with how hard he plays, the physicality that he plays with, and like I said, is a great compliment to our vets.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism