Tyler Johnson ready to take ‘bitter taste’ off his mouth from last season
Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson had a bit of a head-scratching 2017-18 season. Poised to make his mark as one of the team’s best young players, Johnson saw some ups and downs throughout the season, never finding the right consistency and finishing his season playing through a painful injury.
“I had some ups and downs last year,” Johnson said, according to Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “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.”
Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million deal when he was barely showing glimpses of his talent, part of that class of 2016 free agents that saw a major compensation due to the NBPA’s refusal to cap smoothing.
Yet the California-born shooting guard thinks the pressure part of his contract is over, but he will need to ensure he lives up to his price tag after all.
“My first year was probably the year I had the most pressure,” said Johnson. “I don’t even like to use that word because pressure is made up in your head. It’s whatever you make it to be. That first year was probably the year I wanted to come out the most. It was like, ‘Look, I’m worth 50 million dollars.’ I had a good season that year, but obviously I had a little bit of a drop off last year.”
Johnson had an eerily similar season than in 2016-17 (the first year of his multi-year deal), but seeing slight dips in his scoring, rebounding, and assists. While inconsistency had much to do with it, so had the lesser minutes, shot attempts, and being thrust into a starting role once Dion Waiters went down with an injury.
This time around, Johnson will look to take the bitter taste of the team’s first-round loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
“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.”