Stanley Johnson is the top prospect from Arizona in this year's NBA draft and a likely lottery pick. Below, we take a look at Stanley's college performance, his highlights, his strengths and weaknesses, and his potential at the next level.
College statistics and accolades:
13.8 points per game (led the team), 6.5 rebounds (second on the team), 1.7 apg, 1.5 spg, 37.1% 3P%, 44.6% FG%
In addition, Stanley Johnson was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, First Team All Pac-12, and the Julius Erving Award Winner (given to the top small forward in the country). He won that last award over, among others, Sam Dekker and Justise Winslow.
Stanley Johnson is a Mack Truck. He's 240 pounds, which makes him significantly bigger than the other small forward prospects in the draft and bigger than just about all the small forwards in the NBA. With that size, it will be very difficult for smaller defenders to keep him from getting to the rim.
Stanley also already has the ability to shoot the ball. He shot 37.1% from three as a freshman while taking 116 attempts, so he can make those shots and he isn't afraid to take them. He's not as good as some of the top shooting prospects in the draft (Devin Booker, for example, shot 41.1% from three on 141 attempts) and he'll need time to develop NBA-range, but he's not far behind and could develop into a great shooter.
Finally, Stanley's defense is very good. At times this season, it was overshadowed by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (who is otherworldly), but Stanley's versatility was extremely impressive. Stanley started at shooting guard for most of the year, and despite being much bigger than opposing guards, he was able to keep up and play solid defense. He also racked up statistics in the process, averaging a steal and a half per game. With his size, he should be able to guard the two and the three in the NBA, and he might even guard fours in small ball situations (a la Harrison Barnes).
The biggest complaints Arizona fans make about Stanley Johnson relate to his drive and his disappointing performance in the NCAA tournament.
Early in the year, some Arizona fans were not impressed with Stanley and thought he was too self-interested. This was at least in part because last year's one-and-done, Aaron Gordon, was the ultimate team player who always seemed more interested in the team than any individual success. That's not necessarily the case with Stanley, who some fans thought was a bit of a show boat who would mean mug for the camera after dunks. That's not really fair to Stanley, but that was the perception of some.
Stanley's NCAA tournament performance, though, was disappointing. While he crushed Texas Southern (scoring 22 points on 11 shots), Stanley did very poorly against Ohio State (4 points on 1 of 12 shooting) and didn't make a difference in the Wisconsin game (6 points on 1 of 4 shooting). Those middling performances in big games may trouble some teams, though success in the NCAA tournament is sometimes overrated in evaluating draft prospects.
How does he project to the next level?
Stanley Johnson was a very good college basketball player -- he won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and the Julius Erving Award (given to the best small forward in the country) -- but he might be even better in the NBA. For one, Stanley is extremely young (he just turned 19) and has a ton of time to develop. He also has an extremely impressive foundation to build on -- he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses and already has an NBA body, solid shooting ability, and the ability to defend multiple positions. Best case scenario for Stanley Johnson is probably Paul Pierce, who had similar size and worse stats as a freshman, but who developed much more before entering the NBA. Worst case scenario for Stanley Johnson is a smaller Marvin Williams, who also had impressive college statistics and on-paper athleticism, but never fully developed his potential. While this would be disappointing, Marvin Williams has played ten seasons in the NBA and started over 500 NBA games. Suffice to say that I expect Stanley will be in the NBA a long time even if he doesn't become a superstar.
Stanley has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft class. But even if he isn't, given his physical condition and existing skills, I expect he will contribute in the NBA for a long time.