When watching Amir Johnson, the first noticeable skill has to be his great athletic ability. Amir runs the floor extremely well for a big man, often resulting in wide open lay-ups or dunks at the high school level. He also possesses long arms and nice leaping ability, enabling Johnson to snatch rebounds from high above, dunk on unsuspecting foes, and alter or block countless shots throughout the game. An added bonus is that Amir is comfortable jumping off of both his right and left legs which allows him to use his body to shield opposing defenders when going to the basket.
Offensively, he brings all the budding skills necessary for the new age power forward. Although the form on Johnsons shot is poor, he still manages to consistently knock down jumpers all the way out to the NBA 3 point line. He has shown an impressive post game for such a young player consisting of both right and left handed jump hooks, as well as a flurry of quick spins off the blocks. Amirs ball handling skills are not excellent, but they are very adept for a 610 player.
Amirs sheer athletic ability will allow him to be a solid defender at whatever level he decides to play at next year. He has the ultimate combination of length, quickness, and leaping ability to enable himself to potentially be a stopper.
Johnson has all of the tools you can ask for in a post player, the question is whether he will actually put them to use or not.
The most glaring weakness of the Louisville signee, besides the fact that he is extremely raw and inexperienced, is the form on his jumpshot. Johnsons jumper contains very little lift, slow release, and a low point of release, enabling him to be blocked by smaller defenders. Although he may make a large amount of his shots in a shoot around or private workout without a defender guarding him, Amir does not have the same consistency in game situations due to the fact that he literally begins his shot from his waist and releases the ball at chest level.
Inconsistency is the next big thing that sticks out to me about Johnson. Whether it be his effort or his actual play, it seems to really hard to predict what Amir Johnson you will get night in and night out, as he doesnt always seem to be 100% focused on the task at hand. For example, there is the Amir Johnson from the Roundball Classic (17 points, 8-11 shooting, beat everyone up and down the floor, showed nice post moves) or the Amir from the McDonalds game (1 point, 0-5 shooting, didnt appear to play hard, looked absolutely lost in the post). Because of this, his age and the fact that his game hasnt been consistently evaluated against any type of competition, it is very tough to get a grasp on what type of player Amir will actually become. Basically, someone who drafts him will be taking a shot in the dark hoping that he pans out, considering all the many variables involved. The fact that eligibility issues have plagued him throughout his extremely short basketball career is something that also needs to be taken into consideration when talking about the likelihood of him realizing his full potential as a player.
The final weakness of Johnson is his extremely undeveloped body. Although he has a frame which can very easily be developed, at the moment Amir is a very frail player. At the first sign of any contact, Johnson can be seen crashing to the ground with a nice thud. He does not look to be more then 210 or 215 pounds, which is incredibly light for a power forward prospect. I remain confident that as long as Amir is able to land on an NBA roster, their strength and conditioning coaches will have an absolute field day with him and turn him into the physical specimen that his frame has the potential to be.
Johnson unfortunately could not do enough to get himself eligible for college from an academic standpoint and therefore decided to give the NBA a try instead. While Amir has not officially signed with an agent, he did participate in a workout sponsored by SFX during the Chicago Pre-Draft camp along with Randolph Morris, Daniel Ewing, and Olu Famutimi. Considering the depth of the draft, the fact that he is years away from being able to consistently score in the league because of his body and extremely unpolished skills, and the fact that he wasn't really considered a good enough high school prospect to jump straight to the NBA, it currently looks like Johnson could go anywhere from the middle of the second round to undrafted. In the case that he is undrafted or is unhappy with his draft position, Amir has some options because he says he hasnt actually compromised his eligibility yet. He has the option of attempting to become academically eligible and attending Louisville (his best bet), playing in the NBDL for the team related to the NBA franchise that drafted him, trying to play overseas (unlikely) or in one of the minor leagues. No matter what his choice may be, this is the only time Amir will be able to go through the draft process because of his non-withdrawal at the deadline.
Has all of the tools in the world to be a productive player in the NBA. Still very raw and desperately needs a team who will be patient enough to develop him for a few years. Most likely will not contribute for a few years. The fact that a developmental league is in place should help his chances of being drafted.
Had 17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals on 8-11 shooting in the EA Sports Roundball Classic.
Had 1 point (0-5 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks in 19 minutes at the McDonalds All American game.
Led Los Angeles Westchester HS to the state championship his senior year while averaging 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 blocked shots a game.
Named Mr. Basketball in California his senior year.
Sat out his junior season at Westchester.
Played at Verbum Dei High School his sophomore year.
Attended L.A. Pacific Hills High School his freshman year, but did not play due to academic eligibility issues.
Averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival.