There haven’t been a lot of bright spots this season for the Los Angeles Lakers but the young roster of talented players who have been repeatedly proving themselves is undeniably one of the best parts of this season.
That includes Stanley Johnson, the forward who LA got from Toronto.
Although he’s only played in 14 games, Johnson has proven himself as something special – the type of energetic and committed player that the Lakers need.
And now they’re making it official with him: after signing him to multiple 10-day contracts, the Lakers have inked Johnson for a two-year deal that includes a team option for the 2022-23 season.
The Lakers intend to sign F Stanley Johnson to a two-year deal, including a team option for 2022-2023, sources tell ESPN. Deal expected to be signed on Thursday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 26, 2022
Why are Lakers fans – and the front office – so revved up about Johnson?
Finally, Some Defense
The Lakers roster is not very young and not very good at defense.
On the other hand, Johnson is both of those things.
He is both youthful and energetic and terrific on the defensive end of the court.
These are the two main reasons why LA has finally made the decision to sign the young man to a two-year deal.
They’re obviously quite impressed with Johnson: of the 14 games he’s played, he’s started in six of them.
When you look at his stat line, you don’t see numbers that immediately make your eyes pop but that’s because Johnson isn’t needed for the offense as much as the defense.
The team is crowded with guys looking to shoot the ball – which Johnson can definitely do – but it doesn’t have as many players wanting and willing to block and defend.
He plays with serious speed and is capable of intimidating opponents – and he’s still got room for improvement.
James On Johnson
The star player on the Lakers is, of course, LeBron James and he himself had some high praise for the young Mr. Johnson.
James told The Undefeated, “People forget that he was a top-10 pick in our league and he’s only 25 years old. He’s a guy that’s hungry and wants to go out and prove that he belongs in the NBA and trying to stick here to stay for as long as he can.”
That hunger is something very special and needed by the Lakers – especially when you see so many other guys on the roster who sometimes look and act out of gas.
Not Johnson – he shows up to play every single night and that results in some out-of-this-world offense and defense.
Stanley Johnson starting to find a rhythm last few games from 3-point land. Combine that with his effort, hustle on 50/50 plays and his drive and dish + finishing at the rim.
— Omar Siddiqi (@osid24) January 22, 2022
The Lakers are hoping to be a formidable championship contender this year but that seems less and less likely.
However, there is a chance they will be truly ready for the Finals within the next couple of years, especially if they foster young talent like Johnson.
He has proven himself again and again and has consistently shown he’s ready to be a go-to guy for the troubled LA squad.
Locking Johnson down with a two-year deal is one of the smartest moves the team has made all year and Lakers fans should be very, very happy about it.