The mindset of Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson hasn’t changed. Despite critics charging that he’s not worth the $19.2 million he’ll be making in each of the next two seasons, Johnson remains upbeat about what he can do to help the Heat win.
The basis for the criticism directed at the 26-year-old Johnson is that he averaged just 11.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the second year of a four-year contract he signed in 2016.
That’s a decline from the previous year, though injuries played a part in Johnson’s struggles during the course of last season. These included refusing to sit out games despite sustaining a sprained ankle in January, as well as a nagging thumb injury, which eventually led to surgery.
“I had some ups and downs last year,” Johnson said. “I didn’t have a terrible season, but I didn’t have the season that I wanted to have and the coaches expected me to have. I’m looking forward to getting back on the right track and not even proving to anybody anything, but just showing myself that I know where I’m supposed to be at as a basketball player.”
Whatever criticism is being sent Johnson’s way, he’s not bothering to acknowledge it.
“I’m not interested in proving anything to anybody because that’s when you get messed up in your mind,” Johnson said. “You don’t live up to somebody’s expectations or you don’t do what somebody else wants you to do, and then all of a sudden you feel like you’ve failed instead of actually learning from the experience.”
Some detractors no doubt are under the belief that Johnson isn’t working as hard as he can after having signed such a large contract. That’s a false notion in Johnson’s mind.
“My problem is I don’t know when to take my foot off the gas,” Johnson said. “I always want to just grind through it and be there for my team. In the long run, I think sometimes I hurt myself by trying to push through some of the injuries that I was playing with and I would have little slumps that I was going through.”
To try and be prepared for what lies ahead in the 2018-19 season, Johnson is rededicating himself to getting ready to play once training camp opens at the end of next month. His efforts to improve his explosiveness and agility have him doing hour-long beach workouts with trainer Tony Falce, who he’s worked with over the past four years.
“Essentially what it is, it’s non-impact so you can do more training without the toll that it takes on your body,” Johnson said. “ … If you ever just try to walk in sand, you sink into it. When you jump, it takes a lot more for your body to get up out of the sand than it would be to do it on concrete or inside the gym. It’s almost like an added weight, but without putting that extra weight on your joints.”
Johnson made the Heat as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State University in 2014, so he’s well aware of the work ethic needed to reach the NBA. He’s committed to continuing his development.
“I’ve really been taking time to get my mind right and get it prepared for this year,” Johnson said. “The way the season ended last year left a bitter taste in my mouth. Really what I wanted to do was to be able to clear my mind and get my body in a position where it is going to last me this whole season. I went back and just visited all the places I was at before I got into the NBA … Really, just going back and seeing how far I came to get to this point.”
There’s still a chance that Johnson could find himself in a new uniform by the time training camp starts. One thing that appears certain, though, is that he has more important things to concern himself with than the griping of disgruntled fans.