The Amir Johnson Problem
What exactly is the Amir Johnson problem?
Let me begin by saying what it is not. It is not lack of athleticism or natural basketball physical skills
So what then is the Amir Johnson problem?
I have followed his career since he was drafted. Over the last few years I have also done some research on his high school days.
Unfortunately the conclusion that I have come to is that Johnson is mentally challenged.
This translates on the basketball court into having a low basketball IQ. This it seems to me is the main cause of his foul problem. We all know that he commits too many "dumb" or "stupid" fouls. Players with a high basketball IQ do not do this. He also has trouble understanding what he can do on defense and what he can't do on defense. Not being able to learn this also contributes to his high foul problem.
It is his mental limitations that have and will probably always greatly limit his career.
Triano has already pulled Johnson out of at least one game since he has been with the Raptors for forgetting a play. This also happened on a number of occasions while Johnson played for the Pistons.
We can go back even farther to his high school days and his attempt to get a NCAA basketball scholarship to find even more evidence of his Johnson being mentally challenged.
I have thought a bit about why Johnson did not get a chance to start in pre-season even from game one. During the first week of this season's pre-season camp Triano said that some of his players were having trouble grasping the Raptors new plays on offense. It didn't initially occur to me that Triano might have been referring to Johnson when Triano said this. Then I read an article where B. Scott decided to remove Hickson from the Cavs starting lineup because "he was not grasping the Princeton offense that Scott was installing. It then occurred to me that that is probably what happened with Johnson especially considering how well he played last April.
I just think that he was not learning the new plays so Triano put Evans in the starting lineup. Initially I objected to this but after some thought I understand why Triano did this and it seems like the best choice given Johnson's inability to learn the offense.
Johnson's inability to learn the new offense has put him back to being a garbage player.
Then after the sixth pre-season game Triano came out and said that he doesn't care if his players foul out as long as they don't give up unchallenged layups. So what does Johnson do in the seventh game vs Chicago. He fouls out in about fifteen minutes. Then in game eight he committed three quick fouls in the first half and wound up playing the fewest minutes of any pre-season game. It seems to me that he took Triano literally which again is more evidence of being mentally challenged.
It seems to me that Johnson may also be having some trouble trying to grasp the changes that Triano and Calesimo have installed on defense.
I do believe that Johnson will eventually grasp what Triano is now doing on offense and defense and will probably wind up playing much better as the season goes along. How good this will be only time will tell.
In the end it saddens me to have come to this conclusion. However, given all that I have seen and know about him as a basketball player it seems to me to be the most logical explanation of why he has never achieved the success in the NBA that was expected of him after his excellent showing in the D-league during his rookie and sophomore seasons with the Pistons. This limitation is also why I think he will probably never achieve the success in the NBA that one would expect based upon is natural basketball related athletic abilities.