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Heat’s Tyler Johnson determined to take more careful approach with injuries

Tyler Johnson will enter his fifth NBA season with a veteran approach, putting his health and conditioning ahead of any potential improvement in his game.

The hybrid guard played 72 games last season, but was hampered by on-going injuries, which cost him the benefit of the doubt after signing a beefy four-year, $50 million deal in 2016 after only two seasons in the league.

Johnson notably underwent offseason thumb surgery, an injury that had affected his production throughout the playoffs. He will return to full-contact drills in three weeks, according to Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“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.”

Johnson can be his worst enemy at times, choosing to take the valiant route and play through injuries for the sake of helping his team, yet hurting himself in the process. The Fresno State product has been a part of beach workouts with trainer Tony Falce of Elite Skills Training twice a week. His sessions are geared to improve Johnson’s agility and explosiveness, all lasting about an hour.

“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.”

If the 26-year-old Bay Area native can put the fruits of his labor together with his determination to do the right thing for his body, it’s only a matter of time before he has the breakthrough season he has been hoping to put on display.