Heat’s James Johnson cracks Sports Illustrated’s top 100 NBA players

Sep 11, 2017 | by Alex Makrides, palmbeachpost.com

It took James Johnson seven years to finally find his footing in the NBA. After a breakout season under the guidance of the Miami Heat organization, Johnson is considered one of the top 100 players in the NBA according to Sports Illustrated.

The Heat forward bounced around five teams before signing a one-year deal with Miami last season, a move that revitalized his career. He lost 37 pounds, became more of a versatile player and is now rated by SI the 91st best player in the NBA. 

“The Heat had the perfect culture to guide him; Miami’s rigorous standards for effort and conditioning demanded more of Johnson than any team ever had before. In turn, Johnson transformed,” SI’s Rob Mahoney wrote. “So many of the captivating flashes in his game became full-blown features. That development would mean a lot to the career of any journeyman, but especially to a marvel like Johnson.”

Johnson had by far the best season of his career last year. He averaged career-highs in points (12.8), rebounds (4.9), assists (3.6) and minutes played (27.4). 

“Last season established him as an every-night contributor — a big, physical combo forward who can fly around the court defensively and do a little bit of everything,” Mahoney wrote. 

That success translated into a four-year, $60 million deal this offseason. 

Johnson is part of a Miami frontcourt, which features Hassan Whiteside, newly acquired big man Kelly Olynyk and draft pick forward Bam Adebayo.