Miami Heat: Top players that have the most to prove next season

Dion Waiters (11), James Johnson (16) and Kelly Olynyk (9) (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Dion Waiters (11), James Johnson (16) and Kelly Olynyk (9) (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images) /
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Miami Heat
James Johnson Miami Heat Luke Kornet New York Knicks(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

James Johnson

Once a journeyman, always a journeyman. That is what Johnson was before joining the Miami Heat. He played on four separate teams. Never averaged double digits points. He was never the starter. He never actually played more than 70 games before Miami. Just the year before Miami, he was averaging 5 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists.

As soon as he joined Pat Riley and the Heat, it was as this was a completely new man in the league. That was the old Johnson… This seemed like the new Johnson:

  • Career-high 12.8 points
  • Career-high 4.9 points
  • Career-high 3.6 points
  • Career-high 4.8 field goal made
  • Career-high 10.1 field goal attempted
  • Career-high 1.1 3-point made
  • Career-high 34 percent from the downtown
  • Career-high 3.2 defensive win shares
  • Career-high 5.1 win shares

Nine separate stats that were career highs. Would you have believed me if I said this player was the same player that barely got playing time?

However, stats don’t tell the entire story. The value that Johnson added during those two seasons can’t be quantified and measured. He improved his defense, he worked hard, improved his playmaking, and become one of the leaders in Miami.

But then, this season came and it started to look those seasons were a fluke. He was going back to his journeyman self. The guy that played hard just to score five points. Part of the reason for this sudden regression may be from the injury he had to deal with.

Regardless of the reason, he was playing like a guy that didn’t belong there and this season he has got a lot to prove.

The team’s best players are very young. This team needs a leader like Johnson. He may potentially have a starting power forward role on the team. He will certainly have the opportunity to prove he is the same guy we witnessed two years ago.