Last summer Miami’s decision to match Brooklyn's 4-year $50 million offer sheet to re-sign Tyler Johnson caused many Heat fans to balk. At the time, the former Fresno State guard had played in two decent seasons for Miami with his first as a rookie call-up from the D-League and his second ending in injury and barely a handful of playoff minutes. Following the announcement of the contract, fans were livid and Johnson was not undeterred by his critics firing back at his “haters” on Instagram saying:
“Yall thought i was motivated before....just wait. Thank you to those who supported me throughout this process. I see the hate. Just dont switch up when the underdogs on top. If he is with me who can stand against me.”
With that it’s worth analyzing whether or not Johnson has been living up to his bloated contract at least this season. Simply put, he has been. Johnson has been one of Miami’s most consistent players and one of the most solid bench players in the league. His chemistry with the team is phenomenal and his ability to contribute on both ends of the court is noticeable. In just three seasons Johnson has positioned himself as one of Miami’s main pillars for the future. This season Johnson is averaging 13.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 4.2 rebounds.
Taking a look at Johnson’s 23 point outing against the Hawks on February 25th make a variety of things apparent. In analysis of his play in the video above, it’s obvious that Johnson has a great shooting stroke from the midrange as well as beyond the arc. He also seems to have phenomenal basketball IQ, constantly putting himself in a position to succeed by reading how the play is unfolding and in turn making decisions based off that.
An example of this occurs in the video above, Tyler watches James Johnson succeed in stealing the ball and before Goran Dragic even has possession, he has already darted down the floor for a layup in transition. His strong basketball IQ also influences his court vision as well as general decision making on both ends. Johnson is also exceptional at finishing at the rim. Whether it be a dunk or an acrobatic layup, Johnson explodes to hoop constantly either resulting in points, or free throws.
At only 24 years old, Johnson is ultra athletic and ever improving. He’s in the perfect culture to succeed and the front office decision to match Brooklyn’s offer sheet, shows how much faith they have in him. As the Heat continue to fight tooth and nail for a playoff spot it’s expected that Johnson will play a big part in the battle. It will also be interesting to see how Johnson continues to play entering his prime (and the big money seasons of his contract) but if this season is just the foundation for his future self, Heat fans might be inclined to keep contract criticism to a minimum.