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Scouting Stanley Johnson: Could he fill the New Orleans Pelicans famous hole at small forward?

A quick look at a young player New Orleans received as part of the trade package for Nikola Mirotic with former Pistons writer and editor Duncan Smith.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans acquired Stanley Johnson and Jason Smith yesterday as a part of a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks that also included a myriad of future second round drafts picks for fan favorite Nikola Mirotic.

Lost amid Milwaukee adding another fine shooter and scorer to put around Giannis Antetokounmpo and the future prospects coming back to New Orleans is the arrival of a former first round pick in Stanley Johnson. Standing 6’7 and weighing roughly 245 pounds, Johnson possesses quite the solid frame for today’s modern NBA wing. Johnson possesses the ability to defend several positions on defense which makes him useful in almost any type of lineup strategy.

The Achilles heel for Johnson, unfortunately, has been his ability to shoot well from distance, specifically the three-point shot. He’s a career a 29 percent shooter from that range and it has stymied his competence to be much of a threat off the dribble. On the other side of the ball, Johnson is a hellacious defender when engaged, who uses his feet and length to make life hard for ball handlers and floor travelers off the ball — even against the elite like Kawhi Leonard.

Johnson makes for the perfect low-end gamble for New Orleans as they’ll have the opportunity to spend the rest of this season evaluating if Johnson could help fill their historic gaping hole at the small forward position. As the Pels look to make decisions on the construction of the future roster, Johnson, who is a restricted free-agent this summer, could factor into those plans. Maybe a fresh start with NOLA is exactly what Johnson needs to find his offense.

So, who the hell is Stanley Johnson, you ask? Twitter king and former editor/writer of several Detroit Pistons platforms Duncan Smith fills us in. Hope you enjoy our sit-down.

1. Stanley Johnson seemed to be a perfect fit for today’s NBA style wing. He’s long, athletic and strong enough to guard almost any position on the floor. He appeared to be a fantastic “3&D” prospect. What went wrong in Detroit?

There’s no 3&D if you can’t shoot threes, and Stanley Johnson has been among the league’s worst shooters since the Pistons drafted him. Development can only be blamed so much, as he was a mediocre shooter in college as well. He was simply drafted to fill a role that he never really fit.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

2. What’s his biggest strength?

He’s a good-to-excellent defender. He can give big, strong wings fits and really make them work for everything. He’s also a capable playmaker.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

3. What’s his biggest weakness?

Shooting, shooting, shooting. Also, while he seems athletic, he has very little lift or explosion. He’s not a good finisher and almost literally never gets to the free throw line.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

4. Do you think the Pistons gave up on Johnson too early?

I think a fresh start was long overdue for both Johnson and the Pistons. Whether he was simply not getting it or he was consistently misused, his infrequent flashes of brilliance just weren’t getting it done in Detroit. Perhaps with fresh eyes and a new organization, he can yet be salvaged.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

5. The future of the Pelicans roster is currently a question mark but do you think he can flourish with a fresh start? What should Pelicans fans expect?

As for what the Pelicans can expect, it’s most likely a mixed bag. He’ll bring effort, but the results may be frustrating.

Special thanks to Duncan Smith for giving us his time. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @DuncanSmithNBA. If you haven’t already also check out our game preview as Anthony Davis makes his controversial return to the floor tonight versus the Timberwolves.

As for Stanley Johnson, there isn’t great hope he’ll flourish into a legitimate small forward in this league, deserving big minutes on a good team, but perhaps getting out of Detroit somehow does the trick and the Pelicans wind up with something unexpected.