By: Cristofer Zillo
Now that the NBA season has come to a close and the glorious offseason is here, it is the perfect time to reflect on the team’s needs--particularly at the Power Forward position.
Amir Johnson started 77 of the 80 games he played this year. I love Brad Stevens, and I know everyone who is a fan does too. However, this has proven to be the most head-scratching decision he has ever made. Before you rush to the bottom of the page to write a comment defending Amir, let me explain to you why. As a disclaimer, I am talking about Amir Johnson the PLAYER, not Amir Johnson the MAN. I’m sure he’s a great guy. I just cannot stand to see him play basketball in a Celtics jersey.
First, let’s look at the stats. As an undersized Power Forward--standing at 6’9”--Johnson is by no means a star. For his 12 seasons in the NBA, he has averaged about 7 points and 6 rebounds a game. His best years were played in Toronto, where his numbers peaked a bit at the end of his time there. Instead of 7 and 6, he averaged about 9 and 6. These numbers are average at best. In comparison, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Nets--the worst team in the NBA, of course--averages 8 and 6 for his two-year career. Although there isn’t a huge difference between the numbers, there is a difference nonetheless.
How could a player that lead the Celtics in FG%, 3P%, offensive rebounds, and blocks be so terrible? Don’t let those stats fool you, my friends. I cringe every single time Johnson touches the ball, whether it is when he shoots a 3 with his aesthetically-displeasing jump shot or when he finally grabs a board. I strongly believe that his hands are not only coated with butter, but MADE of butter. If he does catch the ball under the basket, or gets a rare offensive board, I am convinced he will not make the layup and end up holding my breath. Instead of going for an easy dunk, Amir will often use that power to lay the ball up much too aggressively off the glass, blowing an easy bucket. Oftentimes, if he loses or fumbles the ball, he will dive on the floor for no reason. Do not get me started on his offensive and defensive IQ, which are on par--if not worse--than Shaqtin’ a Fool star, JaVale McGee’s. He simply cannot defend the pick and roll if his life depended on it and he’s often called for moving screens. The only thing that sets JaVale and Amir apart is that JaVale is much more athletic and has--ironically--won an NBA Championship.
As crazy as it seems, I would rather start Kelly Olynyk and live with less boards and more 3s attempted than suffering through Amir Johnson attempting to play the sport of basketball. He simply cannot do it. With the offseason here, my fingers are crossed for a move involving Johnson, as I am begging for Danny Ainge to get this man out of Boston. Perhaps Blake Griffin or Anthony Davis will replace him. Honestly, anyone is better than Amir.