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Amir Johnson thrives as the Celtics’ garbage man

Garbage man. This term denotes an NBA player willing to do the “dirty” things to help their team gain an advantage.

It can be as simple as going after a rebound, diving for loose balls, or boxing out the opposing team’s best rebounder; or it can be more complex, like say denying opponents enough space to navigate the paint, performing that one subtle bump to throw scorers off their game or anticipating switches and forcing players to either pass the ball or take a bad shot.

Most of the things that a garbage man does do not show up in the stat sheet. Yet, all across the league, garbage men are essential parts of most perennial playoff-contending teams.

Amir Johnson is known across the league for his defense. His numbers may not be as gaudy as that of other defense-oriented big men like Rudy Gobert, Serge Ibaka, and Hassan Whiteside, yet teams all over the league recognize Johnson’s penchant for being at the right place at the right time in order to make defensive plays that affect the game.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com breaks down the different factors that makes Amir Johnson such a defensive asset for the Celtics. Part of it can be attributed to his pedigree. Fresh out of high school, Johnson had perhaps the best defensive big men mentors in Ben Wallace, Antonio McDyess, and Rasheed Wallace when he joined the Detroit Pistons in 2005.

In Toronto, Johnson was called upon to cover budding big man Jonas Valanciunas‘ defensive lapses, performing admirably as the guy tasked with manning the paint and boxing out rebounders.

Amir Johnson’s athletic gifts also play a huge part in shoring up his entire team’s defense. Lateral quickness is a rare commodity in big men and Johnson’s ability to move his feet has made the top teams across the league take notice.

The addition of Al Horford, a known blocker, to the Celtics gives Johnson more leeway to do the dirty work where he’s grown proficient. At 11 years in the league, Amir Johnson is no spring chicken. Being a veteran on a relatively young team, he could potentially benefit the Celtics more as a member of the second unit.

Garbage men rarely need plays to be called for them and Amir Johnson is no exception. The addition of new pieces will further emphasize Amir Johnson’s value on the defensive end while allowing the team’s new acquisitions to showcase their skills.

Regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench, the coming season holds great promise that the Celtics will continue to utilize Johnson’s defensive prowess to the fullest.

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