Even in his lowlights, Stanley Johnson shows SVG something else to admire

Amid the highlight-reel fodder Stanley Johnson provided in his 26-point Pistons debut came two turnovers, his pocket picked near mid-court by Pacers defensive bloodhound Toney Douglas.

And even in his reaction to that, Stan Van Gundy found further evidence of Johnson’s rare mettle for a 19-year-old.

“It doesn’t faze him,” Van Gundy said. “In fact, when I told Jodie (Meeks) to handle the ball, he was, ‘I got this.’ He’s got a great toughness and confidence about him and I think that showed. So with him we’re working from a pretty good foundation. He’s got a lot to learn, but you’re working with a very, very good foundation.”

For all of the things Van Gundy quickly came to appreciate about Johnson, including his competitiveness and sense of the moment, he’s also come to see that his precocious rookie is a quick study.

“You think about it. In his first week – because of the injuries – we used him at four positions. And he’s only been in here a week.”

Maybe the most remarkable thing you could say about Johnson is that in his first preseason game, with the Pistons facing a crunch due to injuries to their top three point guards, Van Gundy chose Johnson to run the point to start the second half – while guarding Pacers power forward and superstar Paul George defensively.

“I don’t see him playing the point, but as an emergency thing – our best minutes of the game were when he was at the point,” Van Gundy said. “We opened the third quarter and, granted, they didn’t have George Hill but they had the rest of their guys out there and that was our best run of the game. So he’s sort of a find-a-way-to-get-it-done type of guy.”