There aren’t many 6-9 power forwards like Amir Johnson, who can hit at better than 30 percent from beyond the arc. Amir added the three-point range last year, but this offseason, he looks to be working on his low-post moves under the dual tutelage of Hakeem Olajuwon and Al Jefferson, the latter of whom is still an Eastern Conference rival.
Only 7.2 percent of Amir Johnson’s possessions ending in a shot, foul or turnover last year had him down in the post, per Synergy. He spent the vast majority of his time — 28.4 percent of his possessions — rolling to the rim after usually setting a pick for Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan, the two wings who spearheaded Toronto’s attack last season.
But when you’re working out with Hakeem Olajuwon, the Dream for big men in the NBA, you’re hoping to get more touches in the paint. Here he is working on some foot work to face up in the post before making his move:
Olajuwon isn’t the only player Amir sought guidance from this summer. Hornets big man Al Jefferson has also lent his paint expertise to the 27-year-old Johnson.
There aren’t many players who spend as much time as Jefferson on the low block. While the NBA has increasingly become a perimeter-oriented league — witness all the clamoring for the best three-point shooting power forward in the NBA, Kevin Love, this summer — Big Al still loves to muck it up in the paint.
Greater than 50 percent of Jefferson’s possessions ending in a shot, foul or turnover happen in the post, and despite the wide gulf in sample size, Jefferson still averaged more points per possession in the post than Amir.
We’re not so sure Hornets coach Steve Clifford is keen on his star player helping a rival, but for Amir it makes sense: Pick the ear of the best low-post scorer of the last 25 years and possibly the best contemporary low-post man, and you’ve got yourself the ingredients to improve.
If it’s anything like the marked difference in Johnson’s three-point stroke, after working on his long-range shot in the summer of 2013, then expect to see some dazzling foot work and a lot more confidence near the basket for Amir next season. Smile Raptors, fans, this is good news.
Will Amir’s workout partners help him improve in the low-post next season?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.