If the Miami Heat’s preseason run has proved one thing, it’s that James Johnson and Tyler Johnson need to keep coming off the bench together.
The Miami Heat have quite a dynamic duo on their hands.
James Johnson and Tyler Johnson, otherwise known as The Brothers Johnson, have taken South Beach by storm.
Coming off the bench together last season, the two lead the Heat’s second unit throughout 2016-17. The forward averaged a career-high 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals a game in 27.4 minutes, finally looking like a No. 16 pick. As for the guard, he too put up career-numbers, averaging 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per matchup in 29.8 minutes; pretty good for an undrafted, Developmental-Leaguer.
But now, that bond may be broken. Because head coach Erik Spoelstra is toying with the idea of starting James Johnson at power forward.
Generally, moving off the bench into a starting role is a good thing. And the 30-year-old has certainly put in the work, on and off the court, to earn that honor. After all, he cut his body fat down from 14.5 percent to 6.75 percent (as of last spring). Totally buying into the organization’s promise of getting their players into “world class shape.”
However, it seems both James Johnson and the team are better off with him sticking alongside Tyler Johnson.
In five preseason games, the Wyoming-native has averaged 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists a contest. Scoring just two points in each of the first two matchups, and eight in the third. All three games of which he played a starting role for.
On Monday night, in a win over the Charlotte Hornets, James Johnson totaled 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. And last night, in a victory against the Washington Wizards, he finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. The difference? He came off the bench in both contests.
And you best believe Tyler Johnson balled out on those occasions too. The 25-year-old recorded 18 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists on Monday, and 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 2 steals on Wednesday.
Could James Johnson adjust to starting at the four? Probably. But he shouldn’t have to. Because then plays like this wouldn’t exist.
You can’t teach that chemistry.
Kelly Olynyk may have only started six games for the Boston Celtics last year, but he’s clearly getting more comfortable in that role for Miami. He finished Monday night with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 30 minutes.
While James Johnson deserves a starting nod, he should keep coming off the bench instead, keeping the magic of The Brothers Johnson alive and well.