The Miami Heat were able to notch their 13th straight victory Friday night as they overcame a double-digit third-quarter deficit to beat the Nets in Brooklyn. A large part of the Heat’s extraordinary success over the last few weeks has been due to the extra ball-handling duties that power forward James Johnson has taken on.
A prime example of this was on Friday night as Miami actually had power forward James Johnson try his hand at “point-forward” throughout the game. The strategy was effective, to say the least, as the Heat not only won the game, but saw Johnson net a season-high 26 points.
Johnson has played multiple roles for Miami throughout the season, from rebounder to scorer to “energy guy” to late-game lockdown defender, but perhaps what’s been most impressive about Johnson these days is his ability to play every position on the court successfully.
Goran Dragic on James Johnson: 'I don’t know if you have another guy in the league, maybe LeBron and him, who can play 1 through 5'
— Tom D'Angelo (@tomdangelo44) February 11, 2017
That’s one hell of a comparison, but it’s true — Johnson has excelled no matter where the Heat have put him. At this point, there’s really no question that the 6-foot-8 journeyman is having the best season of his career. He’s improved in pretty much every facet of his game since arriving in Miami. Johnson, himself, has attributed his newfound success to the system that the Heat organization has in place:
“I’ve always been the same player,” Johnson said in an interview last December. “I’ve just perfected my craft, grew up a little bit mentally, fixed my body thanks to the Miami Heat. From there, now I’m starting to flourish. Everything I could do, now I’m doing it faster, now I’m doing it stronger, and now I’m doing it longer.”
Hopefully for him (and for the Heat), Johnson’s success will lead to a long-term relationship between the two parties. Surely the versatile big man isn’t interested in moving to another city after his stint in South Beach, as he’s played for six different teams over the last seven-and-a-half seasons.
If he keeps playing the way he’s playing, and if the Heat keep winning, it would certainly be unlikely the team would be willing to let him leave after the season’s end.