Since Amir Johnson inked his contract last year there has been a lot of comments here at the republic as to the quality of said contract. At times it seems like we are beating a dead horse. I’ll admit my bias right now. I am on the Amir bandwagon and loved that he was re-signed. When all the negative press came out surrounding his signing, many (including an article on NBA.com) got the numbers wrong; however, it didn’t stop me from wondering if we overpaid. Lately, there has been an argument that Amir is not a long term piece and that he could be moved for an equal player at a cheaper cost because Davis is our PF of the future. To weigh in on previous threads surrounding our PFs see the threads created by hateslosing, Raptor4Ever, & another one from Raptor4Ever

Despite my negative first impressions of the contract I had come to think it was pretty reasonable considering he has shown improvement. In an attempt to justify Amir’s spot on the raptors I spent my boss’s hard earned money commissioning a study into Amir’s contract vs. other PF/C who have a comparable salary this year and/or a comparable contract over the next 5-6 years. To get a copy of the spreadsheet (broken down into 3 pages, please let me know and I can email it to you).
All stats provided by Basket-Ball-Reference.com
Salaries are provided by hoopshype.com


Why did I choose per game stats as opposed to per 36? Because Darius Songalia still gets 4.8 million even though he only plays 7.1 minutes a game. When it comes to actual production/cost, game averages seem more reflective.

Of the 45 Players making between 3 Million (Carl Landry, Matt Bonner, Joakim Noah[3.1]) and 8.2 Million (Lamar Odom, David West, Luis Scola [7.2]), here’s where Amir ranks on per-game stats:

Minutes/Game: 17th
Games Played: 12th
Starts: 14th
FG Attempts: 21st
FG%: 2nd (behind Ronny Turiaf [2.6 attemtps vs. Amir @ 7])
FTA/Game: 24th
FT%: 10th
Offensive Rebs: 7th
Defensive Rebs: 17th
Tot Rebs: 17th
Assists: 18th
Blocks: 5th
Points: 20th
Personal Fouls: 1st
Age: Tied for fourth youngest with Hasheem Thabeet and YI Jianlian. Only Griffen, Love, and Beasley are younger while making >3 mil.

None of these stats are particularly surprising for us because we know Amir’s game pretty well but to summarize: Amir is Great at FG%(even though he is slightly above avg. in attempts), Shot blocking, Offensive rebounds and not being injured. He is better than average at assists, defensive rebounds and points. He is below average at getting to the line but he hits a good percentage when he does. He is the best (read: WORST!) at personal fouls, but that doesn’t stop him from logging above average minutes. Other than fouls Amir is >average at everything compared to this group of peers. Here’s the list of guys that dominated these categories in my subjective order of dominance/ awesomeness

Tied for first: Griffen & Love (pretty much 1 and 2 on every category)

3rd: Harford (top 5 in almost every category)

Rest of the Best (ranked in my subjective order of their overall ranking based on above categories):
West
Scola
Blatche
Beasley
Green
Millsap
Gasol
Varejao (this doesn't mean I think that Beasley is better than Varejao, just that he is better according to these stats)

So based on these stats Amir is descent, but not spectacular. If he were to continue playing at this level he could be a starter, but not a good/great one. However, how good is he relative to his contract?
This year Amir had the 24th best contract out of 45. So we have a better than average player getting paid a very slightly below average salary. Amir is giving us some value although not necessarily a whole heck of a lot. However if you continue to compare his salary year over year things get interesting. Next year Amir will be 23rd out of 38 players remaining under contract. In the 3rd year of the contract Amir will be tied with Channing Frye with the 19th best contract out of 28. The fourth year of the contract has Amir 15th out of 16, now slightly ahead of Frye. In the 5th and final year of his contract Amir is 9th out of 11th. ahead of Frye and Gooden (whose salary remains at 6.6 his 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of his contract).

Finding: RELATIVE TO OTHER PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT, AMIR’S CONTRACT BECOMES MORE VALUABLE YEAR OVER YEAR. This is assuming he sustains his current output with no decrease or increase in production. However, the overall value of his contract will be greatly impacted by the outcome of the collective bargaining agreement which will determine the terms of new free agent contracts.

So we got a guy whose production versus contract is good. However, there is a chance (and arguably a good one?) that he will not be our starting power forward of the future as significant improvement would still be necessary. There is an argument that Ed Davis is the PF of the future and we therefore have a redundancy or log jam (if Evans is resigned to a reasonable contract) at the four spot. Subscribers to this logic perspective argue to move Davis and get a “cheaper” player to play back up to Davis. Cheap is good, but if you really want to compete in the NBA you do have to spend some money, so ultimately value, is better.

What happens when we compare Amir to back-up PF/C also making around the same money? When filtered for players with lots of games but few starts and playing between 32min/game (Jeff Green) and 8min/game (Hasheem Thabeet). How does Amir fair against this group of 27?

Minutes Played: 4th
FGs: 10th
FG%:2nd (Turiaf again)
FTA: 10th
FT%: 6th
Offensive Rebs: 2nd (Behind Jeff Foster [note: Reggie was excluded do to not enough games played])
Defensive Rebs: 5th
Total Rebounds: 5th
Assists: 6th
Blocks: 2nd (Behind Tyrus Thomas)
Points: 10th
Salary: 13th
Age: Tied for youngest with Thabeet and Jianlian.

When compared to the rest of these “back-ups” (Again it could be argued some of these guys are starters) Amir comes in top 10/27 in every category, even though he is 13th in salary. So he is still exhibiting value at 25.8minutes/game. However are they any other “cheaper” players that could net us a similar/better value? There are only 8 players on this list that are currently signed to => 3 year contracts and will make less than Amir throughout the entirety of their contract. They are:

Jason Maxiell
Hakim Warrick
Brandon Bass
Nikola Pekovic
Chris Anderson
Matt Bonner
Brad Miller
Zaza Pachulia

Compared to these 8 players:

Age: Youngest
Minutes/game: 1st (2 5.5, Brandon Bass is 2nd @ 25.2)
FGA:2nd (behind Bass w/ 8.5)
FG%: 1st
FT%: 3rd behind Matt Bonner and Brandon Bass
Offensive Rebs: 1st, Bass is second
Defensive Rebs: 1st, Bass is second
TOT rebs: Amir followed by Bass
Assists: 2nd Behind Brad Miller
Blocks: 1st (Anderson Second)
Points: 2nd behind Bass

So it’s not surprising that Amir and Bass are 1-2 in almost every category because they play the most minutes. So far we have used per game stats because they reflect what is going on. However, when we shift to the possibility of could someone replace Johnson and duplicate his production per game stats are limited. What happens when we compare the “per 36 minutes” stats of these