When signed on a hardship waiver midway through the season, few could have predicted Stanley Johnson would become such an integral part of the Lakers’ rotation. After playing his way into a guaranteed contract for last season, Johnson has now earned himself a second year with the team as they picked up his $2.3 million team option for the 2022-23 season as first reported by Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
Lakers officially announce they have picked up team options on Wenyen Gabriel and Stanley Johnson pic.twitter.com/Zg6C1ruyQe— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) June 29, 2022
Johnson was only even signed by the Lakers when a COVID outbreak led to him receiving a 10-day contract that began on Christmas Day against the Nets.
He immediately made an impact, serving as the team’s most (only) long and athletic defender of James Harden and helping spark one of the team’s signature fake comebacks. Helping fill a gaping hole on the roster, Johnson was retained on 10-day deals a number of times before eventually agreeing to a guaranteed contract through the rest of the season.
His impact was felt throughout the season, reaching far past his raw statistical output. A glimpse at the 6.7 points per game, 3.2 rebounds or 31.4% 3-point shooting would indicate a fairly ho-hum season, but his defensive versatility and transition aggression opened up opportunities to find some success in small-ball lineups with LeBron at the 5. Never was that more apparent than in the team’s comeback win over the Jazz in mid-January, a game in which he dominated Rudy Gobert in the fourth quarter. The best indicator of his impact is probably the fact that he finished with the third-best net rating on the team from Christmas Day to season’s end.
Despite his limitations — in particular, his lack of a dependable outside shot — Johnson revitalized his career with the Lakers. Now, he’ll look to build on his role from last season and continue making an impact with his defense, athleticism and intensity.