The Toronto Raptors were willing to give Stanley Johnson a chance to make it in the regular rotation last year. After a solid freshman year at Arizona, Johnson was picked eighth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Pistons. In both Detroit and New Orleans, Johnson hasn’t really performed like a No. 8 overall pick.
However, after starting to show how he can impact the game on defense, the Raptors decided to roll the dice and hope that Nick Nurse’s ability to teach shooting and offense would be enough to turn Johnson from a unanimous bust into a player that can help the Raptors win games.
Needless to say, he flopped, He was given plenty of opportunities to show that he can stick, but he just never put it all together. Even after his stint with Toronto, his blend of strength, length, and hustle were enough for the Chicago Bulls to give him a deal for the 2021-22 season.
The Bulls agreed to a deal with Johnson, bringing him to the Windy City for 2021. With the selection of Scottie Barnes and additions of similar players like Ishmail Wainright and Precious Achiuwa, the writing was on the wall for Johnson in Toronto.
Stanley Johnson is leaving the Toronto Raptors and joining the Bulls.
Some of the more positive stats in Johnson’s 2020-21 campaign must be qualified and put in their proper context. Johnson did start 13 games last year, but those were due to injury rather than his performance. Johnson did average 4.4 points per game, but 36 came in one of the final games of the year when the Raptors were just going through the motions.
The shooting concerns didn’t improve in Toronto despite an ace coach in Nurse ready to add his input. Johnson made just 38% of his shots, barely above his career average of 37.5%. While he set a new career-best mark in 3-point percentage, 32% isn’t anything to write home about.
The Bulls are taking a gamble of his defensive switchability to fill the end of a roster spot. While he is a perfectly acceptable player in that role, expecting him to suddenly break out in Chicago may be wishful thinking.
Johnson had some impressive moments in the bubble on the defensive end, and his versatility and wingspan clearly appeal to an executive like Ujiri that is trying to build a positionless team, but he just wasn’t getting it done on the offensive end, and there was no path for Johnson to return to the Raptors.
Hopefully, Chicago is where he finally figures it all out.