Can't say I thought that was coming. Interesting.
Curry: Johnson is Pistons' starting power forward
Chris McCosky / The Detroit News
AUBURN HILLS -- Calling him a "welcome addition," coach Michael Curry made official Saturday what he's long been hinting at -- Amir Johnson, as of now, is the Pistons' starting power forward.
"Amir does things without having to have the ball," Curry said. "He's able to pick up baskets through his activity, by running the floor and playing off the other four guys. He does all the intangible things, and through that he's able to create offensive opportunities for himself."
How long Johnson holds onto the spot is completely up to him.
"I am glad I got the opportunity," Johnson said. "It's been a long time coming. I've been sitting on that bench for three years. I am ready to play."
Johnson, drafted No. 56 overall out of high school in 2005, has never started a regular-season game for the Pistons. He played in a career-high 62 games last season and in eight playoff games.
"I am comfortable out there now," he said. "I've been playing with these guys for four years. I play against all-stars in the summer in Vegas and in Los Angeles. Now is my chance, and I am very excited."
Curry was careful not to make any direct comparisons to former Piston Ben Wallace, but he believes Johnson can bring some of the same intangibles to the starting unit Wallace did.
"Ben could make a tremendous impact on a game without having any plays run for him. Amir is like Ben in that sense," Curry said. "Amir can impact a game by how he rebounds, he can impact on the speed in which we play, offensively and defensively. His presence will be a welcome addition to that group."
Johnson was flattered by the comparison, but like Curry, kept it in perspective.
"I just do the little stuff, the garbage can stuff," he said. "I get rebounds and putbacks. I know the other guys like to shoot, so every miss I am going to try and get every ball."
Johnson, at 6-feet-11, is heavier (230) and stronger than he's ever been, but the worry has always been whether he could hold his position defensively. Curry doesn't share that worry.
"We tell him, 'The best way you can handle guys stronger than you is to front the post and use your quickness,' " Curry said. "We just tell him to play to his strengths. Most of the guys that are stronger than him are usually stronger than most other guys, too. He might not be as strong as some, but they aren't going to be able to run with him or be as active as he is."