They share a last name. The Miami Heat even sell a shirt that reads “The Brothers Johnson” on it. And that isn’t just hyperbole.
“He's my brother. I don’t say it because we’re just teammates. He’s like my brother. We’re family,” Tyler Johnson said regarding James Johnson.
The duo shoots guns together and shares rides; they also shred NBA defenses.
Recently, James has played the role of distributor between the two, allowing Miami’s lead ball-handlers to play off-ball and space out the defense. Only behind Goran Dragic, James has created the second-most points on the team as a result of his assists. The guy on the receiving end of the largest portion (52) of James’s 241 assists is — shocker — Tyler. Same goes for Tyler; he reserves most of his assists for James, too.
If The Brothers Johnson share one thing in common it’s their work ethic. Screening and cutting it how these guys get each other open. Nothing special — well, except for their timing. In the pick-and-roll, James is averaging a remarkable 1.55 points possession when dishing it to a cutter, per Synergy Sports. And it doesn’t take a genius to guess who that cutter is a lot of the time. Tyler averages over a point every cut to the basket, according to NBA.com/Stats:
James mesmerizes them with the ball, skipping Tyler a pass as he slips behind enemy lines — forever embarrassing sleepy defenders. This is one of the more finesse ways the Johnsons get it done. The other one I’m going to detail is a little more brutish.
Forget about tiptoeing past enemy lines. This other method of scoring is done right in front of the defender with only a warm body between shooter and defender. Being the bigger player, James draws the short stick on this one. He plays the role of human shield.
Enacting virtually the same action as their backdoor duet, James approaches Tyler on the weakside corner only for Tyler to sprint behind James as he tosses Tyler the ball, forcing Tyler’s matchup to chase through the larger Johnson brother — which can prove difficult. Then, as Tyler’s man tries to fight through and around James, he lets it fly.
One can guess that James, an ex-MMA fighter, doesn’t mind absorbing the contact. Tyler would surely do the same for him. They truly are a dynamic duo.
From a Miami Herald column by Manny Navarro: “Without Tyler there would be no me in the conversation,” James said. “He’s a great player, great guy and we feed off each other.”
Ain’t that the truth.
(Statistics accurate as of April 2, 2017.)