The advanced-stat all-star

But Johnson has become indispensable to the Raptors. His most glowing statistical review comes through a measure called real plus-minus, a figure that gauges the impact a player has on his team's offense and defense when he's on the floor, accounting for the play of his teammates and the quality of his opponent. Among players that average at least 25 minutes per game, Johnson places ninth in the NBA in real plus-minus. Seven of the eight players ahead of him have been All-Stars.

Dig deeper and you'll find Johnson is among the league's very best at defending opponents at the rim, according to, even though his block numbers (1.1 per game this season) do not reflect it.

"It's a fearless thing," says Raptors coach Dwane Casey. "He goes vertical at the basket. He's not embarrassed to get dunked on at the rim."

He's also among the league's best at grabbing contested rebounds, according to, which defines this as the snatching of any board with a defender nearby.

"I take it personally," Johnson says. "If I don't get [a rebound], the other guy's not getting it."

On offense, Johnson must find his own way to score. Casey almost never calls a play for him; appropriately, his usage rate, the percentage of his team's possessions a player uses while on the court, is about the same as that of Nate Wolters.

When Johnson does shoot, he does it well. He still hit half his field goals in Games 1 and 3, but in Toronto's two playoff wins over Brooklyn, Johnson has connected on 71 percent of his shots. For the postseason, Johnson is again among the league's elite in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, stats that account for the value of 3-pointers and free throws.

The Raptors are a forward-thinking team, having devoted many man hours and financial resources to the pursuit of advanced statistical analysis. Most days, an email is filed to Casey and his assistants from the team's statisticians, cobbling together data the coaches will use to formulate their game plan. Yet that is often the end of the line on analytics communication.

Johnson hears none of it. He is contrary to players like Shane Battier, who famously receives daily, hyper-specific intel points by which he tailors his play. Instead, Johnson is a natural, his game organically translating well to the metrics many league observers covet most.

"All my stuff is freelance," he says. "Whatever I do on the court is pretty much to help the team. The coach doesn't tell me to do this or that. I'm just playing."

Indeed, if Johnson ever hears of his advanced statistical prowess, it is most often not in a pregame report but through a 140-character message. "I don't really know the stats, except when somebody tweets me," he says. "I don't really keep up with it or try to."

And this is just how Casey wants it. The coach feels unloading a sophisticated spreadsheet before tipoff would be counterproductive.

"We wouldn't go to Amir and go, 'Well [this opponent] is 1.4 PPP [points per possession] from that position, even in the scouting report," Casey says. "We may put it on the board, but we don't hit on anything too specific because it can be an overload."

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