The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2021-22 season hasn’t been as successful as many hoped, as many experts’ preseason title favorites have limped to a 22-23 record through Thursday. But one of the pleasant surprises in an often frustrating season for the Lakers has been the play of Stanley Johnson.
The 25-year-old forward has appeared in 11 games this season, starting five of them and averaging 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in a little more than 20 minutes per game. Perhaps most notably, Johnson poured in 15 points with five rebounds and three assists as he helped spark a fourth-quarter comeback win against the Utah Jazz on Monday.
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
The No. 8 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons out of Arizona in 2015, Johnson has been signed to multiple 10-day contracts with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls this season. He appeared in six games with L.A.’s G-League affiliate in November, but made his debut on Christmas Day and has had a home on the Lakers’ active roster since.
“He’s a guy that’s hungry and wants to go out and prove that he belongs in the NBA and trying to stick here to stay for as long as he can,” LeBron James told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
It’s all come full circle for Johnson, who signed his latest 10-day contract earlier in the day before his breakout performance against the Jazz. Johnson is a native of the Los Angeles area and grew up dreaming about one day donning the purple and gold himself.
Now that his dream has become a reality, he’s optimistic he can remain with the team for the rest of the season, but submits to God’s ultimate will for his life.
“I don’t really think about it, to be totally honest,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times about his hopes of signing a longer-term contract. “I pray every morning and I go to practice and I go home. … I’m in shape. I’m ready to play, let’s play. If they don’t call me, then that’s what God had for me.”
"thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me"
— 7even (@iAmSJ) April 17, 2016
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Johnson posts about his faith on social media and mentions the Bible verses Philippians 4:13 and Psalm 23 in his Twitter and Instagram bios. His trust in God has helped him to navigate the uncertainty of life as an NBA journeyman.
“I think the biggest part of it is mentally, sometimes you gotta evaluate yourself,” Johnson told SportsNet last year as a member of the Toronto Raptors. “I feel like you gotta write your own story. Every time you go out, every time you wake up, you have an opportunity to get better at things or make it happen for yourself.
“I can say I’ve had my good days and my bad days, but I just trust in God and believe in myself. At the end of the day, that’s all you have to do and things happen for you.”
Johnson will seek to continue his impressive play on Friday, when he and his Lakers teammates play in Orlando against the Magic (8-38) at 7 p.m. ET.
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