Stan Van Gundy: Stanley Johnson Should Focus on Defense

by August 09, 2017

Stan Van Gundy, as one might’ve guessed, was not exactly impressed by Stanley Johnson’s 86-point showcase at the OVO Bounce tourney last weekend.

The Pistons’ head coach, instead, wants Johnson to focus on his defense heading into next season.

Johnson, however, had designs on becoming an offensive star in the NBA.

Per the Detroit Free Press:

“I think now we have a chance to become an elite defensive team and Stanley’s a huge part of that,” Van Gundy said. “And then I think it’s for him to really find his offensive game and it takes some guys some time.”


Because while Johnson has many of the physical qualities that [Jimmy] Butler and [Kawhi] Leonard have translated into greatness, their paths to the NBA were vastly different. Johnson was winning gold medals as a leader of USA Basketball age-group teams long before he landed at Arizona as a McDonald’s All-American or became the eighth pick in the 2015 draft a month after turning 19.


“So Kawhi was the 15th pick (two years after choosing San Diego State over similarly low-profile offers) and Jimmy a lot lower than that,” Van Gundy said. “Where Stanley is now, Jimmy Butler was just headed to Marquette. I think I say that for everybody – for our fans, for Stanley and for myself. Stanley’s going into his third NBA season. At the same age, Jimmy Butler was leaving junior college and heading to Marquette. I bring up his name and Kawhi only with Stanley to understand that their willingness to accept a role, in my opinion, had a lot to do with them becoming stars as it came. Trying to do it all at once is maybe not the best approach.”


Van Gundy’s blueprint for Johnson runs along a parallel track as his wishes for the Pistons: establish a presence on defense first and use that as a launching pad for all-around excellence.


“Stanley’s got to latch on to what he does well right now and what he can be is an elite-level defender, an elite-level rebounder for a wing guy and he’s shown he can make the corner three and then build his offensive game from there instead of taking an approach that he wants to do it all in one step and just be a star.”