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Stanley Johnson wastes no time catching SVG’s eye as Pistons open camp

Stan Van Gundy will undoubtedly find occasion to tap the brakes on the gathering expectations for Stanley Johnson’s rookie season, but he’s not exactly slamming them.

“He looked good, He played very, very well,” Van Gundy said of the first practice of Pistons training camp and the 19-year-old Johnson’s NBA career. “He was one of the better players in the little bit of five on five we did.”

Johnson was the youngest player to participate in the Orlando Summer League and by most accounts turned in the best body of work there. He’s been playing against some of the world’s best players, often two or three years older than him, since his early teen years on AAU teams or with USA Basketball national teams.

So there was nothing about his first NBA practice that left him awestruck, especially since he’s been working out with his teammates in Auburn Hills for the past three weeks and proving daily that he belongs.

“Just basketball,” he shrugged. “The only thing awkward about the first day is everybody trying to see what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and there’s a lot of teaching and learning. Stan went easy on us today. We did a lot of learning before we got warmed and stretched. I think that made things a lot easier on me.”

Johnson didn’t go head to head with Marcus Morris – another Pistons newcomer and the player against whom he’ll likely compete for the starting small forward berth – on day one, but that’s coming.

“He will – and vice versa,” Van Gundy said. “Neither one of those guys are afraid of competition, by any means. So they will. But today they were on the same team.”