Miami Heat: What should Erik Spoelstra do with Tyler Johnson?

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 08: Tyler Johnson
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 08: Tyler Johnson /

What does Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson‘s 2018-19 campaign look like?

The Miami Heat have a plethora of guards on their hands and little playing time for them all. This is obviously a large concern for the team, one that needs to be resolved in order to avoid calamity in the rotation.

One player that has been left with a bigger question mark than anyone else is point guard Tyler Johnson.

A massive understatement can be said about  Johnson is that he never found his niche within the team. Recently he’s been a high risk, extremely low reward member of the Heat, but that may be able to change this upcoming season.

2018-19 will be viewed as a make it or break it year for the young core, and with the Eastern Conference now officially open for the taking, Miami’s players, including Johnson, need to prove their worth fast.

Sixth Man

Johnson needs to evolve as a strict backup point guard, instead of flirting with the idea of a two-way guard with the possibility of shifting to the two. That just can’t be the case anymore.

In his absence, Goran Dragic needs someone to lead the floor well and have enough knowledge to distribute the ball, all while maintaining a fast transition pace. Everyone knows that his contract is one of the most disputed in the league, but with no other option, the Heat must utilize him to his full potential.  

Going from a $5 million salary to an outrageous $19 million one is an obscene jump, and moving him will be that much more difficult if head coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t start utilizing him correctly.

Johnson has great control when he has options in front of him, but he is not the most skilled dribbler. However, that doesn’t mean he slouches in that position. It just means there’s room for improvement.

And, he can already create offensive plays well off the screen as a ball handler. 

Additionally, he can set up an offensive scheme with his quick passing skills (take note, it took four passes before he freed himself up on the corner for the perfect 3).

Plus, he’s also great at setting quick screens off the ball leading to open alley-oops.

All of the above are calculated ways that he can integrate himself into the offense as a backup point guard. Now all he needs to do is elevate his 3-point percentage.

Stand Out

As a backup point guard, Johnson needs to not only lead the offensive boost off the bench, but also learn his role among other shooters.  

In other words, he needs to know how to create the best looks for the top shooter available.

Johnson has the capability to control that method, but sometimes lacks commitment to the play. He needs to be more aggressive in that aspect.

Last year, he was averaging a rough 11.7 points off the bench, combined with 2.3 assists. That is something that drastically needs to improve. If Spoelstra can find a way to adjust his court vision in terms of increasing his assists per game, he can flourish into a real backup threat.

There’s potential though. See how he falls into a tight position that was close to becoming trapped under the rim, in an over and under isolation attack? He quickly adjusted by finding Hassan Whiteside for the easy layup.  

Later in a similar situation, he was on the receiving end of the assist leading to an easy and impactful dunk. It was his great vision that led to that Brothers Johnson play. This is something that has been on display occasionally, but needs to become more of an integral part of the second unit’s offense.

Another 3-Point Weapon

Right now, Johnson isn’t a bad 3-point shooter per se, but judging by his quickness and athleticism, with a little work, he could totally become another dangerous weapon for the Heat’s arsenal.  

If Spoelstra can add that value to his game, he can find the perfect gap for the guard to fill. After all, there’s three things Miami Heat Basketball really stands for: positionless basketball, defense and 3-point shooting.

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Entering a do or die season regarding uncertainty within the roster, it’s time for players like Johnson to earn their keep or be left out in the wind.