Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown should realize that Amir Johnson isn’t the same player he was last season and not rely on the veteran constantly.
It happens to all NBA players, father time catches up one way or the other. Older players eventually aren’t able to play at the same level they did in previous seasons. Sometimes it has to due with one significant injury or maybe just the wear and tear of NBA seasons finally breaking a player down. The latter has seemed to happen with Philadelphia 76ers big man Amir Johnson.
Looking at Johnson’s stats from last season to this season, they don’t scream decline, in some areas it may appear that he has improved his play such as points per game and field goal percentage.
The dips seen in others areas are impart do to his decrease in playing time, however the dramatic decrease in both steals and blocks per game should be waived off as merely a decrease in court time.
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Looking at several advanced stats, they show that Johnson abilities are starting to dwindle. For example, last season his offensive rating per 100 possessions was marked at 121. This season it’s at 110, the second lowest of his career and well below his career average of 117. While his defensive rating of 105 is right at his career average, the lower offensive rating does hurt his overall value on the court.
Johnson’s Offensive Box Plus/Minus is at a career worst standing at -1.8, where as last season it was at -0.2. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus has also seen a dramatic drop, going from 3.1 last season to 1.7 this season. Another eye opening stat, Johnson is at a career high in turnover percentage standing at 27.2 percent.
Now this isn’t to say that Johnson can’t be useful to the Sixers in certain situations or in particular matchups. He can still bang down low with the stronger post player in the NBA. However, based on advanced analytics, Johnson’s on the decline on both sides of the ball, especially offensively.
Once Mike Muscala returns from injury, Johnson shouldn’t see floor action in every game. Muscala has the ability to defend opposing reserve big men well enough. Brown could almost eliminate the need for Johnson all together if he puts J.J. Redick in the starting five in place of Dario Saric. Both Saric and Muscala could be a good duo at the four and five positions off the bench. If that were to happen, Brown would only need to call on Johnson when an old school center is in the game.
It’s clear that all the NBA mileage that Johnson has occurred over the 14 seasons of his career has finally caught up to him. Brown needs to make the right call and stop constantly relying on the veteran big man on a nightly basis.