The downfall of Stanley Johnson at the hands of the Master of Panic himself, Stan Van Gundy!
Stanley Johnson fell out of Van Gundy’s rotation in Detroit sometime during his second year. He would disparage Johnson constantly for his perceived lack of effort on offense during his rookie.
"“Stanley rarely runs, he just treats it like a throw-away because you don’t get the ball much on that (cut),” Van Gundy said. “You get it maybe once every 10 or 12 games if you run it every time. It’s not enough to keep Stanley interested in running the cut.”"
Van Gundy never gave him a chance to showcase his offensive skills. Shaquille O’Neal was right when he infamously called Van Gundy the Master of Panic.
Johnson never averaged more than 10 points per game in Detroit before he was unceremoniously traded to the New Orleans Pelicans midway through the 2018-19 season, whose star player Anthony Davis was publicly demanding a trade to join LeBron on the Los Angeles Lakers.
New Orleans was done with their season by the time Johnson arrived. AD had worn the infamous “That’s All Folks” shirt in anticipation of being traded to the Lakers.
Johnson left New Orleans the following offseason to sign with the 2019 NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors. Johnson would theoretically fit in with Toronto’s frenetic defensive scheme as a long, athletic wing who can hound opposing ball-handlers.
That never happened. His minutes in Toronto fluctuated as Head Coach Nick Nurse quickly lost faith in Johnson for what he claims were for his offensive shortcomings (ironically Johnson scored 35 points in one of his last games in Toronto).
Nurse even blasted Johnson in an excerpt in his book (if a random Twitter user’s speculation is to be believed).
I too believe Nurse was referring to Johnson in his book. Nurse was absolutely right! His words didn’t resonate with Johnson back then. Sometimes, a coach plants a seed in a player that another coach ends up watering.
Frank Vogel turned out to be that coach for Stanley Johnson, who did whatever it took to stay in the league when he had that one last chance.
Here is how Johnson saved his NBA career – and may have saved the Lakers season in the process.