Who's Tyler Johnson?
One of the standouts from last season's disappointing season was undrafted Tyler Johnson. Coming out of Fresno State the 6'3, 190 pound shooting guard impressed in the 2014 summer league before being waived in favor of NBA veteran Shannon Brown. During the time Johnson spent with Miami's D-League affiliate Sioux Falls SkyForce, he played exceptionally well averaging 18.5 points, 4.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds. The Heat took notice and decided to sign him to a 10 day contract in January. Johnson would jump between the Heat and the SkyForce on 10 day contracts before eventually signing a two year deal with Miami in February.
With the Heat, Johnson found success averaging 5.9 points and 2.3 rebounds a game on 42% shooting. While the numbers aren't extraordinary by any means, he gained trust from the coaching staff and demonstrated consistent improvement. Additionally, Johnson had a few high scoring games that clearly demonstrated his potential. Now with Johnson's contract becoming partially guaranteed as we head into the season, it's worth taking a look at what Johnson can provide for the Heat this year.
What Miami has in Johnson is an incredibly versatile player who will be a perfect fit in Miami's new Dragic-led fast paced offense. Right now Johnson is listed in the Heat's depth chart as a shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade and Gerald Green, however there is an argument that Johnson could also play point guard.
Johnson has solid court vision, as a wing player he succeeds at finding gaps to cut through the defense and in doing so is able to identify open players while slashing. Players like Wade have found a lot of success playmaking in this manner and Johnson is no different. If placed in a point guard role, I don't think he'd have much trouble dishing to Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh or Hassan Whiteside in the key.
Additionally, Mario Chalmers found success as a shooting guard last season so I believe it's worth at least experimenting with Johnson as a backup point guard especially with Napier out of the picture.
Three point range
It's no secret that the Heat struggled from beyond the arc last season, so much so that they enlisted the aid of volume shooter Gerald Green during the offseason. However, I think Johnson's three point range went overlooked last year especially when compared to Henry Walker. Last season Johnson shot 37% from the three point line while Walker shot 34%. At first glance the percentages aren't that different, but the major difference comes in shot selection. Walker would often chuck questionable shots for long periods at a time, while Johnson seemed to pick and choose his looks.
Johnson is one of the most athletic players on the Miami Heat. He moves incredibly quick, has great footwork for a young player and has has an unparalleled finishing ability (which at some points reminds me of Wade's). With these talents in his arsenal he automatically becomes a threat if Miami elects to run a fast paced offense. Johnson's athleticism also make him a nuisance on the defensive end. He has a long wingspan (6'6) and can easily tip shots when pressuring opponents while at the same time causing immense frustration. His fearlessness accompanied with an ever growing skill set could make him a nightmare for opposing teams especially if they don't see something like this coming.
Johnson was putting on a solid Summer League performance before breaking his jaw. In the three games he participated in he averaged 9.3 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists a game. Johnson clearly has the skills to succeed with the Heat, he demonstrated that multiple times last year and one can only hope he continues to find success once the 2015-16 season begins.