The NBA Summer League is in full flow and for some players participating in this year's edition, it presents an opportunity to put work in on a competitive stage to improve ahead of next season.
That is certainly something that Detroit Pistons small forward Stanley Johnson is looking to do. Having just completed his rookie season with the team, the 20-year-old is looking to make full use of the competition to eradicate some of the weaknesses in his game.
Last year, the Summer League was a showcase for Johnson to get comfortable in an NBA environment and to prepare for life in the league for the first time. This time around, he has other reasons to take to the court.
The youngster has been challenged by head coach Stan Van Gundy and associate coach Bob Beyer - who is coaching the summer league team - to work on the weaker parts of his game.
Despite just one year in the league, one thing that quickly became evident about Johnson is his competitiveness. That drive has seen him accept the challenge from his coaching staff and dedicate his offseason to doing just that.
One specific flaw in his game that he is looking to improve immediately is his ability to finish with his left hand. Johnson is a predominantly right-handed player and always prefers to drive to his right, making him predictable offensively and allowing defences to guard him easier.
In the Pistons' 73-68 win over Orlando Blue in the Summer League on Monday, Johnson made regular drives to the basket with his left hand and tried to finish, but had little success.
However, that's not something that concerns Beyer who doesn't want the talented forward to become disheartened by it at all.
“He went to his left hand a lot and he needs to continue to do that,” Beyer said on Monday. “The one thing I want to caution him about is don’t let frustration set in. There were a couple times that he got a little frustrated because as he’s working on his weaknesses, if it’s not a positive play, he gets frustrated.”
Van Gundy didn't initially plan for the Arizona product to take part in this year's competition because he feared that the competitive nature of the young player would get the better of him instead, but so far, he has stuck to his task.
Johnson's numbers from the first two games may not come across that well - 2-of-14 from the field for eight points on Monday, after going 5-of-13 in the opener on Saturday - but he's aware that stats are not important in comparison to what he's actually trying to achieve.
“Fighting frustration is a good way to put it. At the end of the day, it’s not really about being successful here; it’s about me getting better,” Johnson said. “What I’m doing now is going to pay dividends in the longevity of things so I’m going to stick with it.
“That’s what I bought into when summer started; I’m already two and a half months in, so I may as well stick with it.”
Stan is one of the most talented young players from his 2015 draft class and his willingness to learn and improve in his spare time will only help to make him a star in this league in the future, which can only benefit the Pistons.