In 22 games with Sioux Falls, Johnson scored 18.9 points on 62.3% shooting while averaging 9.7 boards and 3.1 blocks. Even if the average fan wasn’t noticing his numbers, he did catch the attention of general managers across the NBA.
The Pistons didn’t have a spot for him to contribute in the NBA just yet, but they weren’t interested in listening to trade offers, either. "Amir might be the only untouchable in the league who’s on the inactive roster," Pistons director of scouting George David told the Detroit News.
This isn’t just a case of the front office overvaluing its assets – Johnson’s teammates also agree on his upside. "If Amir had been in college the past two years, he would’ve been a top-five pick – maybe even top-three – this spring," Chauncey Billups told ESPN the Magazine. "He’s that good."
Praise like this makes his contract suddenly look quite sensible – especially when you realize that Johnson is still the youngest player on the roster, even after the addition of four rookies this year.
For a lot of you this may be redundant, but my attempt was to help fans from across the league catch up on what we already know before the start of the season. If you're looking for more Johnson news, be sure to hit up Sean Deveney's piece for Sporting News -- he recently caught up with Johnson to talk about the upcoming season.
On a side note, I can't remember the last time fans had as much invested in a single player as I'm guessing most of us do with Johnson. Darko Milicic was basically a novelty act from the beginning, and pretty much every member of the core either exceeded expectations or randomly fell into the team's lap. Is the hype surrounding Johnson's third year reaching Grant Hill's rookie year levels? Maybe not quite as much, but it's a close second, right?