The 2021-22 NBA season has been a struggle for the Lakers. The team went through a major shift to their roster and quite frankly it has not worked. We can argue that injuries have derailed this team, which is fair. However, the return of Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough to catapult the Lakers to contention. However, one thing that has worked has been Stanley Johnson. The 6-foot-6 wing joined the team as part of a hardship waiver, but it seems they have found a diamond in the rough.
Johnson has injected the team with youth, energy and a defensive prowess on the perimeter that had been severely lacking. He has seized the opportunity and ran with it. To the surprise of many, Johnson’s offensive game has been impactful. Just look at the victory against the Jazz. Johnson finished with 15 points, 10 of them in the crucial final quarter. Before the game, the team signed Johnson to the final 10-day contract they can give him, with his performance on Monday further strengthening the idea that he should be with the team for the rest of the year.
Stanley Johnson stepped up to the moment with 10 points in the fourth quarter 🙌 pic.twitter.com/KSH6Zv8SJc
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 18, 2022
First off, not only was his offense impactful, but Johnson also had two blocks and found himself guarding Rudy Gobert. With such a height disadvantage, he was able to hold his own and find success. The Lakers probably don’t win this game without Johnson and his teammates recognized that. LeBron James was quick to acknowledge that Johnson is not some average joe, but a former young lottery pick (per Melissa Rohlin/Fox Sports).
LeBron James on Stanley Johnson: "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."
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) January 18, 2022
The Lakers are so lucky to have found such an impactful player, only due to the fact that they dealt with so many players hitting health and safety protocols. Johnson’s energy is the difference, but more importantly, it’s infectious. A big block or steal could quickly shift momentum for a team starving for wins. An aging team needs an infusion of energy and Johnson has been that spark plug as of late. Johnson himself recognizes that when speaking to Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet after the game.
"I just wanted to bring some energy…it's nothing but energy and that's what I continue to bring to be successful." Stanley Johnson talks with @LakersReporter about being a key contributor in tonight's comeback win. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/XI6FZ0vjth
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 18, 2022
After losing to the Denver Nuggets by almost 40 points, nobody believed the Lakers could pull this off. That memo did not reach Johnson and he delivered in crunch time. Maybe his performance was due to him getting yet another 10-day contract with the Lakers, but once this contract expires, the Lakers will have to sign him for the rest of the year. No brainer right?
We can only hope so.