Sixers getting exactly what they paid for in Amir Johnson
When the Sixers brought in Amir Johnson this past summer, there was no shortage of confusion on why exactly the team thought this was a good move.
Especially considering the Sixers were going to shell out $11 million for just one season of service.
But that's what they did, hoping the 30-year-old power forward/center would provide solid minutes off the bench on one of the NBA's youngest teams.
A lifetime 57.3-percent shooter, 67.1-percent from the foul line, Johnson has never been known as a lockdown offensive scorer. Well, obviously, most 6'9" players aren't exactly known for that aspect of the game.
But Johnson was brought in to the Philadelphia organization this past summer for his defense, something he has been known for during his 13 seasons in the league.
Johnson has averaged 5.7 rebounds, almost four of which are defensive boards, and a block per game in the entirety of his career.
This season started as a rocky one for Johnson, as fans and media alike questioned what exactly he was doing on this team. What exactly is the point of signing a not very offensive efficient 30-year-old to a team with loads of potential for $11 million for just this season?
However, with an injury to Richaun Holmes, the Sixers' starting center, Head Coach Brett Brown has really helped solidify the backup center role perfectly for Amir Johnson.
Holmes was the consensus guy preseason to be the solid number two behind Joel Embiid, but because of that wrist injury, Johnson has played well enough to absorb minutes and play with enough hustle to win that job as of right now.
With Joel Embiid averaging 29.2 minutes per night this season, Johnson has only been able to be inserted into 15.6 minutes per game this season.
Johnson has been a rebounding fiend over the last couple weeks, surpassing his typical 5.7 rebounds per game with flying colors.
Last week, Johnson had 13 rebounds and four blocks against the Utah Jazz, in which his teammates dubbed him the "team MVP" that night.
Two days later, Johnson had 11 rebounds and two blocks against Portland.
When Holmes plays, Johnson's minutes decline naturally, so his stats don't look as good in those situations. But when Johnson is the go-to guy, his defensive numbers and intangibles skyrocket.
For one season, and for $11 million, the things Johnson brings to the court aren't flashy, but valuable to what the Sixers are trying to do as a team. They're trying to get better as a team while helping their young players better develop.
Getting young players to develop is ultimately influenced by veteran players like Johnson who contribute more than to just the stat sheet night in and night out.
I honestly don't know what Johnson's role will be on this team when Holmes will be deemed completely healthy and getting back to his premiere backup role behind Embiid. However, the role Johnson has created for himself in the now is so valuable to the Sixers and their journey back to prominence with an 11-7 record.
People can criticize the Sixers' decision to pay Johnson the big bucks to leave the Boston Celtics, but the result is more than X's and O's.
Amir Johnson is fulfilling the role the Sixers set out for him when they signed him back in July.
Josh Liddick is Sixers managing editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshLiddickTalk.