Inside the Making of Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons’ Superstar-in-Waiting

September 26th, 2016 by Josh Martin Leave a reply »

As a rising star at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, Stanley Johnson might have stood in front of a mirror and seen something similar to LeBron James: a tall, thick frame—strong but not stocky, built but still growing. He might have seen a hooper in a tight end’s body, with an effective but unrefined game and a confidence that the former trumped the latter.

Johnson had James on the mind throughout his teenage years. He would hear stories about James from Mike Brown, James’ former NBA coach, whose son, Elijah, was Johnson’s high school teammate. In 2014, Johnson earned an invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy, where he went right at James as a rising college freshman.

Fast-forward two years when, in the crescendo of his first NBA season with the Detroit Pistons, Johnson fielded the assignment of a lifetime: guarding James in a playoff series.

Johnson made his share of noise—some of it bizarre. After a 106-101 Game 1 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Johnson complained publicly about the preferential treatment he felt James ...

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