Earlier this week, Antonio McDyess said this about the Pistons' needs:
"We need a pretty much another energy player, you know, Lindsay we are pretty much saving him for the playoffs or whatever. You can tell Lindsay is a big difference coming off the bench with his energy. Just having another energy player, probably another big, that can be the fourth or fifth big or whatever. I’m not the G.M. I’m just talking and throwing things out there, who knows. I’m pretty sure that is something that can help us because when we have lack of energy that’s when we’re in trouble. When we have that energy we’re at our best."
Enter Amir Johnson. If one game is any indication, he appears to have officially cracked the rotation. He came into last night's game in the second quarter -- mind you, only the second time since November that he's played before the fourth -- and put up five points, five boards and two blocks in 15 minutes. He also had two fouls, but you can live with that (or at least I can) given everything else he did. From the Freep:
"Every time I come in -- I don't get a lot of opportunities to play -- but every time I come in, I'm just looking to play hard no matter what," Johnson said. "Just do the garbage stuff. Grab rebounds, block shots and just work on the shots I take in practice."
He may call it "garbage stuff," but his teammates love what he brings to the table:
"What he brings, we need," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "We need somebody who is keeping the ball alive on the glass. Putbacks. Those are things he does in his sleep. He's just a blessed enough athlete that he can do that."
Granted, I'm not sure what finally clicked and made the coaching staff notice, but it seems that even Flip Saunders is convinced that more Amir is a good thing:
"I called Joe (Dumars) and I said we need to establish another big in there," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said, recounting a conversation from Tuesday. "I just thought the way Amir had practiced, things he'd done, his length, blocking shots, I thought he was a guy we'd start giving some minutes to see what he'd do in the right situation.
"I thought he was dynamite."
He doesn’t have the same game as Rasheed and Dice and Jason have. It’s a little bit different. He is the kind of guy who – much like Jason Maxiell in this aspect – is full of boundless energy. And here’s a guy who is absolutely thrilled to be on the court. He is like a young pup just rarin’ to go. At this stage of the season, when the opposition has somebody like that unleashed upon them, it’s got to be very difficult for them. This guy is like a bolt out of the blue. He’s going to be helpful more often than not.
I just think his upside could be so terrific that we might not see the top of it immediately. He has a chance to be a guy who’s not your average bear. He has a chance to make headlines. And – on some nights – he has a chance to be a game-changer right now.
I'm not sure I've crammed this much positive press about one player in a post in years (and I admit, I'm probably over over-doing it), but this is something a lot of fans have been waiting for (just so long as, you know, all this PT isn't coming because he's being shopped or something ...)