Sixers Veteran Amir Johnson Wins NBA Hustle Award
Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons was named NBA Rookie of the Year on Monday night, but he wasn't the only Sixer to be honored, and no we aren't talking about Joel Embiid. It was Embiid's primary back-up, Amir Johnson, that was also recognized during the show as the recipient of the NBA Hustle Award.
Although Johnson wasn't the most flashy player on the roster, his presence on the court kept the floodgates from opening when Joel Embiid checked out of the game. Johnson consistently set good screens and contested shots at the rim. Per NBA.com, here's how the Hustle Award is calculated:
- Players who played minimum of 50 regular season games and at least 15 minutes per game were eligible
- The 5 Hustle Stats measured were Screen Assists, Deflections, Loose Balls Recovered, Charges Drawn, and Shot Contests
- Players were compared by position (G/F/C) within each stat on a per-minute basis
- Within each stat, a metric was calculated for each player based on his relative performance
Here's what the NBA had to say for Johnson's case:
Johnson finished in the top 10 overall in two of the five hustle categories (Charges Drawn and Screen Assists) and ranked fourth among players at his position in both categories. While he did not dominate one single category, his contributions across the board of hustle plays helped earn him this end-of-season honor.
To fully appreciate a player like Amir Johnson, you have to look deeper than the standard per game box score stats. On the surface, his 4.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocks don’t really stand out.
But if we look closer, we see that Johnson was one of only 31 players to hit those benchmarks this season while playing at least 50 games and he played by far the fewest minutes (15.8 per game) of any player on that list. In fact, he is one of just three players to average fewer than 26 minutes per game and average those numbers.
When looking on a per-36 minute basis, Johnson led the Sixers in offensive rebounds, ranked second in blocks and fourth in steals among players that appeared in at least 15 regular season games.
Amir was scrappy in the post, despite being undersized at the center spot and was a blue-collar veteran that fit in extremely well in the young Sixers locker room. In his role off the bench, Johnson averaged 2.5 screen assists, 1.0 deflections, 0.7 loose balls recovered and 5.5 shot contests per game.
Johnson, 31, will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and he should have a number of suitors after providing stable defense and veteran leadership off the bench the past season in Philadelphia.
Brandon Apter is a contributor to 97.3 ESPN and managing editor at SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @bapter23