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Johnson Lands In Toronto After Brief Stop Over

Press Release | Video: Breaking News: Raps-Bucks Swing 4-Player Deal | Amir Johnson Highlights

Jay Satur - raptors.com

August 21, 2009 - At just 22-years-old, nothing surprises Amir Johnson in the NBA anymore.

Such is life for the young forward, who was dealt for the first time to Milwaukee in June and now finds himself with the Raptors after a four-player deal less than two months later.

A highly-touted second-round selection by the Pistons in the 2005 NBA Draft, Johnson had finally begun to carve a place in the Detroit rotation last season with 24 starts and matching a season-high with 62 games played.

But after Chauncey Billups was dealt to Denver on November 3rd, Johnson came to grips with the fact that the business side of the game can mean relocation for just about anyone and embraced the opportunity for change.

"I had a great experience [in Detroit]," said Johnson in a conference call on Friday. "Not too many people can say they get to start with All-Stars like Chauncey, Rip and Rasheed.

"Now I'm coming into my fifth year and I feel like I have a body of experience that I can bring to Toronto with me."

That "young but experienced" angle represents a familiar theme with Johnson's new team. The Los Angeles native represents the latest calculated offseason move by Bryan Colangelo to bring in a group of young twentysomethings with significant, but low NBA mileage and - ideally - their best basketball still ahead of them.

If Johnson can continue to build on the flashes he showed with the Pistons, Colangelo's most recent deal could pay off with some serious punch for a Raptors second unit with a need for speed and shot blocking.

"He's just got great athleticism, he's extremely quick running up and down the floor, he gets to the low post, chases rebounds and I think that's one of the things we thought we might need," head coach Jay Triano said of Johnson recently on sports radio station The FAN 590. "We needed a little more athleticism from the power forward position and we find that in Amir Johnson."

Although Johnson says he's trying to extend his offensive range, he's hoping his play at the other end of the court becomes infectious with a team that finished with the 22nd overall defensive rating in the NBA last season.

"Playing alongside 'Sheed, that makes you a lot more vocal," Johnson said on Friday. "He was on me every day [saying] 'you gotta talk. That's the key to the defence.' That's one of the main things I do on the court is talk on defence and I should be fine bringing that to Toronto."

Johnson represents an eighth new face trying to bring something to the lineup this season and only adds to a very intriguing mix on paper. Just don't expect him to be surprised if he's a key contributor when the games start to count this fall.