Tyler Johnson won’t replace the Flying Death Machine, but he’ll give the Miami Heat something it hasn’t had in a long time–a young, freakishly athletic guy full of potential energy.
LeBron James was the best player on the planet, but you knew that going into every game he would likely out perform everyone else on the court one way or the other.
With Johnson, whose contract is likely not even guaranteed, nothing is certain. Not his role or status on the team, not his playing time or what he may do during that playing time once given the chance to show his stuff in a real NBA game against, you know, real NBA defenses.
It’s not right to compare Johnson and James, but what they both provide is the potential for a play that will knock your socks off.
T-Plane–as I have just nicknamed Johnson–is full of hope in a world after LeBron. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade return, and the new world will revolve around those two All-Stars, but the idea of Johnson slashing through defenders or following misses for put-back dunks adds a stirring, new dynamic to this team.
Johnson isn’t entirely NBA-ready when it comes to his size (only 6-foot-4 and a frail 177 pounds), his defense, shot or even understanding of basketball, but he does have all the athleticism a guy needs to make up for those things.
He has an athleticism that reminds me of Russell Westbrook. T-Plane probably won’t elevate to the heights that Russ has, but he brings much of the same athletic qualities.
We know Johnson is a one-man circus playing over the rim, but he showed off an efficient shot in summer league too, shooting 60 percent in Orlando and 52 percent in Las Vegas. In his last two seasons in college, Johnson converted on more than 40 percent of his three’s in each of his last two seasons, according to basketball-reference.com.
Who knows if this guy even makes the team. NBA franchises can carry up to 20 players during the offseason, but that number is cut to 15 for the regular season. The Heat could hide him on its D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, or send him overseas to play with the Perth Wildcats in Australia.
But one thing is for sure, if he is sent to either of those leagues he would stand out by out-running, out-jumping and out-wowing his competition. And that would only lead the Heat to, at least, give him a try in the NBA. If only to see what this guy can do.