Despite signing onto the roster midseason, Stanley Johnson quickly became a key piece for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021-22 season.
Johnson was the two-way wing the Lakers were sorely missing and his infections energy on both ends of the floor helped kickstart the team most nights. Even though Los Angeles missed the playoffs, they may have found a gem in Johnson, who could prove to be a valuable contributor next season if they pick up his team option.
There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Lakers this year, but Johnson insisted that the onus is on himself and the players to right the ship.
“Yeah, I think that’s like the start. I wear the jersey, I’m playing. Like, we were all the guys that were playing. I heard Frank got fired today, he took some heat for stuff and that’s how the business goes. It’s like I got cut by the Bulls this year, so I understand like whether it’s right or wrong that’s not up to us to decide,” Johnson said during his exit interview.
“But we are wearing the jerseys, we’re the person that’s playing, we’re the people…us personally, Russ, myself, everybody on the team. 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.
“For me, I said my mom gave me some good advice growing up and now maybe at 25 I’m finally listening to it so I think that’s where that comes from. And I think it’s the truth, I think everybody’s probably saying the same thing today. I haven’t heard what people are saying, but I think everybody…especially looking back at it’s like, ‘Man, we could have did better. We should of did better.’ But next year, we’ll have an opportunity so we’ll see what happens.”
Johnson’s message of accountability is a breath of fresh air, especially coming from someone so young who is just now finding his footing in the league. Johnson is self-aware enough to know he may or may not be on the roster next season, but it sounds like he has the right attitude going into the offseason and hopefully the other Lakers players share his mindset.
Johnson focused on improving jumper shot during offseason
As far as what Johnson is going to hone in on during his offseason workouts, he said it will be primarily focused on his jump shooting and other aspects of his game.
“Yeah, I think jump shooting’s been a forever thing for me my whole life. I think I’m starting to turn the corner a little more than I have before which is encouraging because I feel like I’m 25, I’ve been working on my jump shot since I was 12. I got Mike, so hopefully next year I see some growth. It’s like small things, it’s almost like playing an instrument that’s how it works with your jump shot. Sometimes the growth isn’t microwave, sometime you got to shoot like 20,000 shoots, 30,000 shots and maybe on the 30,500s then you start seeing some developments in the games. I think this year I was able to make some shots, so that’s going to give me confidence going into next year.
“I want to become a better, just like…intangible player. Whether it’s defensively or offensively, just kind of learning how to…like Pat Beverley. He does things like he gets a steal and when you’re in the bonus he’s able to run into somebody and get a foul and get himself to the free throw line. He seems like a good teammate and he makes plays that gives his team energy on the court. There’s a couple guys in the league that I’ve seen do that, Pat Beverley just came to me first. I want to try to work on those type of things. I think that’s just a mental thing watching film and stuff like that.”
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