Stanley Johnson ended 2021 on a high note, making his debut for the Los Angeles Lakers – the team that made him fall in love with basketball.
Johnson signed a 10-day deal with LA just before the Christmas Day clash with the Brooklyn Nets, making his debut in the marquee holiday game. Since then, the 25-year-old forward has averaged 8.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in four games, being part of the Lakers’ starting lineup in the last two outings.
Growing up in Southern California, Johnson has been a fan of purple and gold since he was a child. Therefore, his debut with the Lakers was a real dream come true.
The 2015 lottery pick told The Athletic’s Jovan Buha that he would imagine himself wearing a Lakers jersey when thinking about his future career in the NBA:
“When I thought about playing basketball in the NBA, I always saw myself in a Laker jersey,” Johnson told The Athletic Thursday.
“It’s kind of like one of those times when you’ve been dreaming about it since you were 5 and being able to put on (a Lakers jersey) is cool,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s path to this magical moment included a brief stint in the G League. After working with the Chicago Bulls during the offseason, the forward returned to being a free agent just days before the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
Along with his agents, Johnson then decided to join the South Bay Lakers in November, keeping himself in shape while finding a way back to the NBA courts:
“I’m really happy with the decisions we made as a group to continue playing in the G League and stay prepared because I really feel like without this process and these practices I wouldn’t be able to do it. ‘be prepared for the games. I play now, “Johnson said.” You can’t not play basketball and expect to improve at basketball no matter what you do. “
Johnson’s performance for the Lakers won him praise from team stars, including LeBron James. The 37-year-old superstar recently highlighted how quickly the forward has taken over the system from LA and underlined the value of tenacity the arrival of the former Arizona has added to the roster.
Frank Vogel says Johnson is adding something unique to the Lakers
Head coach Frank Vogel has refused to commit to keeping Johnson with the team beyond the 10-day contract he signed in late December. However, Vogel said the forward adds something unique to his team’s roster.
The head coach added that Johnson’s skills allow the Lakers to come up with better game plans for some clashes, especially against rivals who can seamlessly switch between large and small lineups.
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