Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson has started all but seven games so far this year. But it might be better to bring him off the bench.
Johnson, 21, is a 6-foot-7 wing who was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He is currently playing a career-high 27.6 minutes per game for the Pistons though a look at his split stats show it may be more effective to have him as a reserve option.
The 21-year-old is also shooting better from downtown and has also had more free throw opportunities. His true shooting percentage when he has come off the bench (57.1 percent) is much more effective than when he is a starter (45.3 percent) as well.
Johnson currently has the eighth-most touches for Detroit, which is likely not enough to keep him at his best overall pace.
Detroit has a positive net rating when Johnson appears with Langston Galloway, Eric Moreland, Ish Smith and Anthony Tolliver. But the Pistons have been outscored when he is on the court at the same time as Avery Bradley, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson.
It seems the main reason why Johnson has looked better in the second unit is that his usage rate is higher. He is allowed more touches and opportunities for the ball.
As a starter, Johnson has been forced into a machine as a cog but he does not fit. He has not hit his stride as an outside, spot-up shooter with the first unit.
He spoke about this exact predicament during a recent interview (via Detroit Free Press):
“I’m a rhythm offensive player. That’s exactly what I am. Obviously, it takes time for you to figure out who you are as an offensive player. I’ve been trying to figure it out for three years, but I know for sure that’s a part of it.”
Stan Van Gundy, who coaches the Pistons, will have an interesting decision to make. But the current situation is not working for Johnson, who may be better suited for a team where he can have the ball in his hands more often.