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NBA PM: Give Stanley Johnson Some Respect

Don’t sleep on Detroit Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson, who is dominating in Summer League.



When Stanley Johnson was drafted eighth overall in June’s draft, some considered it a bit of a surprise considering Justise Winslow was still on the board. However, that showed just how confident Detroit is in Johnson as a pro, and through two Summer League games in Orlando this past week, Johnson already has shown that he’ll likely be one of this year’s most effective rookies.

In his first Summer League game coming off the bench, Johnson managed 13 points, four rebounds and three assists in only 24 minutes. He followed up that performance on Sunday by posting an even more impressive line as a starter: 24 points, nine rebounds and three steals.

So far, what has stood out for Johnson has been his edge and self-confidence. He’s been aggressive, heady and even a little chippy, proving already that while he may be young, he’s absolutely ready for the NBA.

“I don’t think Stan [Van Gundy] would draft somebody that’s soft,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to let anybody punk me on the court just because I’m 19 years old and new to this. You’re not going to disrespect me. I have no tolerance for that type of stuff. I’ve had some stupid fouls, and I’ve got to get better at that. But I’m going to get my respect, especially in the Summer League.”

Part of that toughness has come from muscling through days in which the team has run two exhausting practices at a time. Johnson believes those have been to his advantage.

“We’ve been practicing for four days, two-a-days, so I’m used to practicing with no legs at this same speed,” Johnson said. “Practicing with less energy, now being in a game where I have all my energy back, it makes stuff easier. Things are opening up for me where earlier in practice I might not have been able to make certain passes.”

Tired though he may be, Johnson prides himself on the toughness required to muscle through that exhaustion.

“[I’m not] bowing out to fatigue,” Johnson said. “I’ve been able to find the cryo-chamber and icing and stuff like that. There’s precautionary things I can do. At the end of the day, you’ve just got to play basketball. They’re not trying to kill us out here. They want to see the best us, and the best us has legs. They’re just trying to make us work.”

As for his recent play, others may be surprised, but he certainly isn’t.

“I think I should dominate every game, honestly,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to sell myself short just because this is Summer League… To me, it’s about every game, same effort. If I can keep with that, if I can dominate, I dominate. But as long as I have the same effort in getting better, that’s all that matters.”

If it isn’t clear, Johnson is ready to get his professional career started, and while some rookies may just be happy to be here, Detroit’s lottery pick is gearing up to show the world just how good he and his team can be this season.

“This means everything to me,” Johnson said of joining the Pistons. “Just the confidence the city has in us is great. I’m the kind of guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder. It’s Detroit vs. everybody. I’m really happy to be here. I’m blessed for the opportunity.”

It looks like the Pistons are pretty blessed, too. Hopefully Johnson is just as good on the main stage as he’s been in these early scrimmages. Based on what we’ve seen so far, the future certainly does look bright for a young man who only recently turned 19 years old.

Basketball Insiders Catches Up With Lou Williams

In case you missed it earlier today, Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy talked with Lou Williams, who just agreed to terms on a three-year, $21 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Williams talks about what it means to join the Lakers, not getting an offer from the Toronto Raptors, his excitement about playing with Kobe Bryant and much more in this exclusive interview.

Last season, Williams won the Sixth Man of the Year with the Raptors, averaging 15.5 points and helping Toronto win a franchise-record 49 games.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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