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Third Party Reports - A Look at Johnson and Weems

With the Delfino and Ukic trade now official, RaptorsHQ reaches out to some SB Nation confederates to get a closer look at both Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems...


With Bryan Colangelo's latest shake-up, here at the HQ, two more new faces will be part of the Raptors' line-up next year.

And while everyone knew about Hedo Turkoglu, and most knew names like Jack and even Belinelli, Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems (especially Weems) are admittedly less familiar to most.

To that end we decided to send three questions to both and to discuss Johnson and Weems respectively.  Here were the results:


1.  HOWLAND - RaptorsHQ:  Talk about Amir Johnson's time with Detroit. After a couple years of riding the pine he was awarded with a fairly lucrative contract and then was shipped out. What happened there?

Brian -  Joe Dumars drafted Amir out of high school in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft hoping to land a steal.  Dumars saw tremendous upside in Johnson and I think that fairly lucrative contract was a result of that optimism.  Unfortunately, it just didn't work out as he wasn't given the minutes needed to excel and I don't think Detroit was planning on doing so this year before his contract was up again either. As a result, they traded him hoping to get as much in return for him (which wasn't much) instead of just letting him leave for nothing.
2.  HOWLAND - RHQ:  Obviously Amir must have shown something to deserve the nice contract he received two seasons ago. What are Amir's strengths and what are his weaknesses. What do you think his ceiling is?

Brian -  Amir Johnson brought a lot of energy when he played with Detroit. One couldn't help but notice the difference the minute he stepped on the floor.  However, his ability to get himself in a good position on defense to block shots and this highlight reel dunk are probably what stick out to me most about him in the past couple years.  As for his ceiling, he's still only 22-years old!  He could still develop into the star Dumars envisioned.  And did you know that Amir Johnson reportedly turned down an even bigger contract from the Spurs in 2007?

3.  HOWLAND - RHQ:  Having had both Delfino and Amir on the Pistons who do you think got the better player here?

Brian -  Each team is receiving different styles of players. Delfino is entering his prime as he'll be 27 during this next season and Amir is still a "young prospect."  I think Amir definitely has the ability to become a much better player, but Delfino is probably the more steady player right now.  Delfino knocks down triples while Amir will be a force down low on offense and defense if he continues to mature.   I don't know much about Toronto and Milwaukee's needs, but to me it seems like Milwaukee wanted a deep threat while Toronto might be looking for guys to start filling the massive hole Chris Bosh will open if he decides to jump ship after this season (or gets traded).  In short, Delfino might be more productive in the next couple years, but Toronto looks better in the long run if they can re-sign Amir.



1)  FRANCHISE - RHQ:  Give us your take on Weems – I remember him as a high-flyer with good "quicks," but whose offensive game was quite raw. And even though he had great athletic ability and solid length, he wasn’t exactly a lock-down type of defender type.

John - AEXP:  Sonny was definitely one of my favorite players from what was a fairly confounding era in Razorback basketball history. His teams (which in their defense, spanned a coaching change and some general upheaval in the program) were generally noted for having a lot of talent but never quite coming through when it mattered. More so than most of his teammates, though, Sonny stood out with some really big games - he dominated against Indiana in the 2008 NCAA tournament (31 points on 12 of 14 shooting!) and had some really nice moments in what was ultimately a losing effort on the road against Kentucky earlier that year.

Your general assessment is pretty much right on, though - he was more the type of guy who would beat you with raw athletic ability (which he has tons of) rather than being a pure scorer. His shooting touch, for example, could be really good or really not so good. But, by the end of his career he stood out to me as a leader on that team and someone who played with a lot of heart. The Hogs definitely missed his presence last year.

2)  FRANCHISE - RHQ:  What role could you see him playing for Toronto and with the logjam currently at the 2 spot, could he play the 3 at times?

John - AEXP:  I can't claim much expertise on Toronto's current roster situation or needs, but it doesn't seem completely far-fetched to envision Sonny as a 3. He played some small forward in college, and some ways it actually makes more sense because it plays to his strengths as a great athlete more than his somewhat streaky outside shooting.

3)  FRANCHISE - RHQ:  Finally, a lot of scouts and draftniks have said that for Weems to stick in the league, he’ll need to carve out a niche as a defensive stopper, something the Raptors desperately need.  Do you think that could be the case based on anything you saw during his college career?

John - AEXP:  At Arkansas Sonny was primarily known as a scorer more than a defender, but with the right coaching and motivation (i.e., focus on defense if you want to keep your job) it could I've noted a couple of times now he really is an excellent athlete, and if he trains that ability towards stopping guys on defense rather than beating them on offense he might be able to carve out a niche for himself. I wouldn't say he'll be the second coming of Alvin Robertson (another former Razorback/Raptor), but I could see him coming off the bench to cool off the other team's hot hand.