Last year, James Johnson didn’t play like the guy who Pat Riley signed to a four-year, $60 million contract in 2017. Johnson missed the first 15 games of the season after a sports hernia surgery and never looked like the explosive jack-of-all-trades he was. The Heat co-captain was even listed as “Did Not Play — Coach’s Decision” for seven straight games in March.
While watching the Big3 basketball games at the AmericanAirlines Arena, Johnson told the skeptics to doubt at their own risk. The following is an excerpt from an article by Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald:
“Dion is adamant about his and I’m more silent,” Johnson said. “We’ve been grinding and we’ve been working together on and off. I feel like he’s ready. He looks the best that I’ve seen since he’s been a Miami Heat. And I’m healthy. Like he said — doubt at your own risk.”
Johnson was referencing Dion Waiters’ Instagram post showing the work he’s done to get his body in shape over the off-season (and respond to critics).
The 6-foot-8 forward will compete for playing time with Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. If he can capture some of his impressive play during the Heat’s 30-11 run to close the 2016-17 season — his passing, explosiveness and tenacious defense — Johnson will get plenty of playing time.