On the surface, many may have been surprised by a 34-year old shooting guard making the decision to pass on several contenders in favor of the Miami Heat. Upon the news that Joe Johnson was officially bought out by his former team, the Brooklyn Nets, many assumed he’d join LeBron James in Cleveland or be that third wheel that Oklahoma City’s dynamic duo is in search of. Well, the recruiting tandem of Pat Riley and Dwayne Wade helped Miami win the sweepstakes for Johnson. Heat owner Micky Arison confirmed the signing earlier via twitter. Definitely good news after Miami lost to Boston on the road earlier in the afternoon.
— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) February 27, 2016
Wade’s friendship with Joe Johnson started w/ USA team in 06. “Me, Bron, Melo, CP & Joe, we were inseparable. We went everywhere together.”
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 27, 2016
As a member of the Nets, Johnson was having one of the worst years of his career. His lowest point per game totals since the first two years of his career, 2001-2003. His 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists a game don’t look spectacular at all. Some may even cite that he’s past his prime, still he brings a skill set that will fit in nicely to what the Heat need.
Johnson has been known for his ability to put the ball in the basket throughout his career, using his 6’7, 240 pound frame to his advantage in the process. Things obviously haven’t been great for him in the last few seasons and nor should fans expect him to turn back into Atlanta’s version of Joe either. Despite his struggles, his ability to hit the three-ball hasn’t suffered much. This season Johnson is shooting 37% from deep and has hit at that same clip for the duration of his career, going to a team who’s best shooter is a big in Chris Bosh, his presence is needed. With Bosh’s absence, Johnson’s ability to stretch the floor can only make things easier for the slashers in Miami. They move the ball well, but don’t have the shooters and often struggle in moments when they need a triple.
A big shot for most teams and a shot that is often taken in Miami is the corner three, this year Johnson has been a sniper from the right corner shooting a blistering 45.8% according to vorped.com. While not as accurate in the left corner, 36.8% is much higher than members of the Heat shoot from beyond the arc as a whole. Joe is also shooting above 40% from the arc at the top of the key, knocking down 43% of his shots from that area of the floor. Bosh was shooting 36% from deep prior to his recent health scare, Tyler Johnson was shooting 38% before he got injured and shut down this season. Luol Deng is shooting the best from that range amongst the healthy and active players at 35%. As a team, Miami shoots a paltry 32% from beyond the arc which shrinks the floor for their attacking guards and slashing wings.
While his ability to hit the long ball takes priority, Johnson also gives Miami another matchup problem in the post. Wade has made a living down there over the past few years, while Johnson doesn’t get enough love for his work on the block, he is another viable option as shared by Ethan J. Skolnick below. Having him on the floor with Dragic, Wade, and Deng only opens things up for Miami. It also gives Erik Spoelstra more options in regards to different lineups, especially with Bosh no longer being an option.
Joe Johnson is averaging 0.83 points per possession on post-ups, same as Wade, better than Whiteside and Deng. He can help there.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) February 28, 2016
By no means is Joe Johnson a cure-all for the Miami Heat, they still haven’t fully gelled as a team with the litany of injuries. With the season coming to a close soon, adding a versatile veteran that can shoot the three surely doesn’t hurt. If Bosh is back this season, he then becomes a bonus, but they couldn’t keep going they way they were in his absence. Johnson can help them in both cases, with or without Bosh. Also, Johnson’s addition may mean more rest for Wade which may allow the Heat to push the pace a bit more as Wade can’t maintain that pace for weeks. Wade was gassed against the Warriors when Dragic was pushing the tempo. Johnson is a viable option that can be inserted at shooting guard, which can only help Dwayne.
It starts Sunday in New York, as Miami takes on the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Do you think Johnson is a good fit in Miami?