Miami Heat: James Johnson season grades and recap

James Johnson Miami Heat Luke Kornet New York Knicks(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
James Johnson Miami Heat Luke Kornet New York Knicks(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Miami Heat forward James Johnson is really smart about focusing on the things that he excels at. How did that impact his season grades though?

Miami Heat forward James Johnson will be heading into the third year of a four-year pact upon the start of next season. Although the last year is totally up to Johnson who has a player option for that season, he will more than likely opt-in due to the reality of being paid at a clip of almost $16 million dollars for that season.

On top of a stellar performance in the season prior specifically, that got him this four-year deal with the Miami Heat, one of his best features is that he tends to focus on the areas of the game that he excels in. This was the case again this past season for the Miami Heat, but while he did focus on those areas, was he actually effective in doing so?

While he has never played an entire 82 games in a season, more than likely due to the controlled recklessness and physical nature that he plays with, he only managed to suit up for 55 games this season with the Miami Heat due to injury. This was by far his least amount of games played for Miami, as he had played 76 and 73 total games in the two seasons prior that he spent with the team.

On top of the fact that he played his least amount of games since the 2013-2014 season, where he was a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, his shot didn’t seem to be falling from the outside. Although he didn’t take a ton, at 2.7 attempts which was the second most in his career, it is important for Johnson to have the outside shot falling when he does take it so that it opens up driving lanes for him. That is where he is at his best, when attacking the rim and the painted area without caution, but it also reflects back to the point made earlier about his health due to his style of play.

This lack of the ability to hit the outside shot with consistency and thus lack of driving lanes led to him only averaging 7.8 points per game, which is his lowest average scoring season with the Miami Heat, and down by three points from last seasons average. Although this season was his second highest in terms of his 3-point make percentage at around 34 percent, his two-point and effective field goal percentage were down dramatically as compared to his first two seasons with the Heat.

While he did spend more time on the injured list, thus inevitably meaning spending more time getting back into shape and back into the swing of things basketball-wise, his offensive numbers were down across the board. He took fewer shots, made fewer shots, averaged fewer assists and rebounds than he ever has across his three-year tenure with the Miami Heat.

Although you have to consider the injury factor, the dramatic drop’s in most of the key offensive categories have to be considered as well. What helps him significantly is that although he averaged only about three-quarters of the minutes this season than he has over his past two, he still managed to put up better numbers relative to the time, which is indicative in his per 36 min averages still being among the highest of his career. It is with these factors combined with what you saw with your own eyes that you have to grade him Offensively as a C-.

When it comes to Johnson’s defense, he always steps up to the plate. Whereas his offensive value is associated with the versatility he can sometimes provide on that end, his defensive value is associated with the versatility he always provides.

A man who is truly capable of guarding all five positions on the floor, he did a little of all of that this past season when he was able to suit up for the Miami Heat. Whether it was picking up the lead guard that handled the ball at the top, banging on the block or in the paint with players that were often taller although not bigger in terms of strength and body thickness, or guarding the most talented wing player from the other team, Johnson was always someone who could be counted on to at least hold his own in any situation.

Although his defensive rating per 100 possessions won’t reflect it, with the 108 defensive rating he accrued being among his highest over his career, he did have a positive impact on the Miami Heat defense during most of the time he was on the floor. His actual defensive statistical numbers were also down slightly, but ever so slightly, as they were also still pretty on par with previous seasons across his career. Something to like outside of the numbers though is that he always competed, he always gave max effort, and he never shied away from any particular matchup when called to do so.

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Although his athleticism and offensive versatility have probably gotten him paid across his career thus far, his defensive heart, willingness, and tenacity are what initially kept him in the league and continues to make him a great piece to have on any roster including this one. It is with this information in mind and considering the fact that he just wasn’t as healthy as you would have liked him to be that leads to formulating his Defensive Grade of C+.

Overall Grade: C