The Miami Heat recently waived Andre Dawkins to create some roster flexibility. With that, they signed Tyler Johnson to a 10-day contract on Monday. Johnson player with the Heat summer league teams in both Las Vegas and Orlando and he also was on the training camp roster. He was cut just before the season started. Then, Johnson agreed to play for the Heat's D-League affiliate team so they could keep a closer tab on him.
Now, we have to debate whether or not Tyler Johnson is what the Heat need behind Dwyane Wade. Because right now, James Ennis is the back-up and he's more suited as a small forward.
Tyler Johnson played 13 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season. He averaged 18.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 4.8 APG. He shot 47% from the field and 46% from three while playing 33.9 MPG. He started all 13 games this season. He was impressive, but not overly dominant like Hassan Whiteside was, and even how good Andre Dawkins was when he played there.
The big difference between Dawkins and Johnson is that Dawkins is one dimensional and Johnson isn't. We didn't see it much in a Heat uniform, but Dawkins is a great shooter, and that's why Miami kept him. But that wasn't enough to get him on the floor. Johnson, who showed with the Skyforce, that he can hit the deep shot, and he's also a threat with the ball on the move. Johnson is a scorer and uses ball screens really well to create for others. He can score on the move, and is nifty around the basket.
"I was hoping for it. I was just enjoying my time getting better in the D League hoping I'd get called up." -- Tyler Johnson on joining the Heat.
It's those characteristics that is giving him a chance in the league. But there's also some real concern. At 6'4 and 186 lbs. he is nearly undersized to expect him to play defense against many NBA shooting guards. His body just isn't there yet. So whatever Johnson gives and shows, it's going to have to outweigh the fact that he could be a defensive liability. The best thing about any combo of James Ennis, Luol Deng, Danny Granger and Dwyane Wade on the wing is that they can all switch and cover the same players. You wouldn't expect Tyler Johnson to guard LeBron James or Paul Pierce, would you?
"We like his skill set of being a combo guard. He's aggressive and gets into the paint." -- Coach Spoelstra on Tyler Johnson signing.
Probably the biggest thing we haven't mentioned here is that the Heat still have the Disabled Player Exception valued at $2.65 million. They can use that money to replace the injured Josh McRoberts, but it does expire. The Heat already guaranteed the contracts of Justin Hamilton and Hassan Whiteside earlier this month, and so unless they want to eat those contracts, the only way to use the DPE is to not keep Tyler Johnson past a second 10-day contract.
I can't see the Heat keeping Johnson past two contracts unless he is overly impressive. With how the NBA is structured and the buyout season looming, I think the Heat would prefer flexibility for someone who might become available. Johnson is a good young player. But if Shabazz Napier can't get on the floor, there probably isn't much hope for Johnson.
The Heat will have to actually play Tyler if they wan't to be able to evaluate him among NBA talent. But I wouldn't expect that in the first contract status.
What do you think? Is Tyler Johnson the answer for the Heat or should they keep looking? Let us know!