Would James Johnson be the “Perfect Addition” for the Utah Jazz?

Dec 1, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) reacts to a call during the second half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Miami won 111-110. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Miami Heat forward James Johnson (16) reacts to a call during the second half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Miami won 111-110. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Utah Jazz hope to fortify the power forward spot prior to the trade deadline, the Miami Heat’s James Johnson is a player whose name has come up as a potentially fitting addition.

In a recently published Bleacher Report article, author Zach Buckley takes a look at which players across the league would be the “perfect addition” for all 30 of the NBA’s squads at the trade deadline. It’s a very well-written piece that you can check out by clicking the link here.

Similarly, I recently took a look across the NBA to do more of an inside-out inspection of which players among the league’s other 29 teams would be the best targets for the Utah Jazz to pursue. Ironically enough, one of the players that I had listed there is the one that Buckley has pinned as Utah’s very own “perfect addition” –  Miami Heat power forward James Johnson.

Johnson is in his eighth year in the NBA and has already found himself bouncing around from team to team throughout his career. He began in Chicago then had brief stints in Toronto, Sacramento and Memphis before once again returning to the Raptors.

All of his best years as a pro had come in Toronto until he found himself with a diminished role in the 2015-16 season. Now, however, in his first year with the Miami Heat, James Johnson has finally come into his own and is putting up some very impressive numbers.

Related Story: Utah Jazz: Top Trade Target From All 30 NBA Teams

With the Heat this season, he is averaging career-highs in points (12.2), three-point percentage (.353), rebounds (5.0) and assists (3.3). Johnson has become a do-everything guy for his team and is simply excelling in every way.

The Utah faithful should remember him well as he absolutely lit up the Jazz in the two teams’ last meeting on December 1st as Johnson led the Heat to victory with a 24-point outpouring on 11-of-15 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from deep. He has been on an absolute tear of late as well as he put up 20 points or more in three of Miami’s final five games leading up to the All-Star break.

Johnson has been mentioned in a number of trade of rumors recently and one might wonder why given how important of a piece he’s been for the Heat. More than anything, speculation exists that with Johnson’s contract set to expire at the end of this season and the Heat needing to secure young talent and draft picks to help ensure a plentiful future, Johnson could be one of their more valuable trade pieces to get exactly what they need the most in return.

With that being the case, he’s a player that the Utah Jazz most certainly should have high interest in and should very well consider making a move for at the trade deadline. In terms of his fit with the Jazz, I love this following excerpt from Buckley’s piece describing why Johnson would be such a formidable addition:

"The ideal frontcourt partner for Rudy Gobert is an amalgam of Utah’s other bigs: The player would have the strength of Derrick Favors, the range of Trey Lyles, the playmaking of Boris Diaw and the energetic athleticism of Joel Bolomboy. The Jazz have two options—find a mad scientist who could create a basketball Frankenstein or trade for James Johnson, a Swiss Army knife possessing all of the above skills."

"A Gobert-Johnson frontcourt would be absurd defensively. The former limits players to a meager 43.0 percent shooting at the rim. The latter’s matchups manage just a 39.6 percent mark overall, as the 6’9″ forward is equally comfortable battling in the post or chasing players around the perimeter."

"Offensively, Johnson checks all the necessary boxes for a Jazz power forward: His vision fits with Utah’s playmaker-by-committee approach (five players averaging between 4.0 and 2.2 assists). Buoyed by a personal-best 35.3 three-point percentage, he can keep the lane uncluttered for Gobert and the slashers. And Johnson has the handles to attack closeouts and create offense off the bounce."

As Buckley alluded to, Johnson’s incredible versatility on both ends of the floor that allows him to fill multiple roles could make him an essential piece of this Jazz team and help fill several gaping holes that have existed given the struggles of Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw and Trey Lyles at the power forward spot.

I would add that along with the obvious skills that Johnson brings, he also possesses a lot of intangibles that would help bring a grittiness and an edge to the Jazz that at times is sorely lacking, particularly among the reserves.

In a lot of ways, his addition would be similar to the one I mentioned earlier this morning of adding Terrence Jones, but of the two I would say I definitely prefer James Johnson.

Of course the two biggest questions would be whether the Jazz have the assets to truly be able to woo the Heat into a trade and whether it would be worth the risk given that Johnson’s contract expires at the end of this year. The Jazz do have a handful of draft picks that could be moved if that’s what the Heat are mostly looking for, but it would be a shame to throw those away if Johnson were to simply bounce at the end of the season.

However, his expiring contract is as much of a blessing as it is a curse because if he pans out, there’s a good chance that he’ll want to stay with a winning team and a new deal could be negotiated, whereas if he turns out to not be a good fit, the Jazz could simply let him walk at the end of this season.

Therefore, setting the potential negative consequences to one side, acquiring James Johnson is a move that I could absolutely get behind and I hope it’s one that the Jazz heavily consider. Given his fit at the position and Utah’s blatant need for improvement at the power forward spot, this could prove to be an absolute game-changer as the Jazz look to make a push to end the season and into the playoffs.

More from The J-Notes

Many Jazz fans, myself included, have alluded to the need for improvements at the backup point guard position. While I still very much consider that the case, it is undeniable that Dante Exum has been playing better of late and may very well turn out to be a respectable answer at the position.

The power forward spot, however, has shown nearly no signs of improvement neither in recent weeks nor at any point this season consistently to be perfectly honest. Therefore, if Utah looks to make a trade before the deadline, patching up that hole at the four-spot with a versatile player such as James Johnson could very well turn out to be the best possible move for them to make.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com