Fresno State alum Tyler Johnson will soon be an unrestricted free agent. Here is a look at his role with the Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets were the favorites to win it all this season, but injuries left them wondering what could’ve been. As the season wraps up, it’s time to start looking ahead.
“We’ll look at every position on the roster. Inevitably, there will have to be changes,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks on Monday.
Throughout the 2020-21 season, the focus was on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, also known as the Big 3. But other players made an impact in different ways too, including Fresno State alum Tyler Johnson. He is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The 6’4 guard signed with the Nets on June 2020 after being waived by the Phoenix Suns earlier that year. Jacque Vaughn, who held the interim head coach position that season, said Johnson was serving as a secondary ball handler and had the ability to create shots.
Matt Brooks, a reporter for NetsDaily, said Johnson’s role this season seemed to be different from last year. He wasn’t asked to handle the ball as much, but his role overall was pretty straight forward.
Tyler Johnson is a really nice microwave scorer to retain as a third-string point guard if you're the Nets. Per CTG, he was a 93rd percentile "long midrange" shooter in the bubble, a 92nd percentile above the break three-point shooter, and a 72nd percentile corner shooter. pic.twitter.com/TnN3DM9q3H
— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) November 27, 2020
There were some games when he was the first player off the bench, although this wasn’t always the case. Johnson is part of the stay ready group and is known for bringing effort and staying positive.
“Tyler is really fun to watch,” Brooks said. “He plays within himself and can even shoot the three. He told us this was the most consistent he’s been.”
At the beginning of June, guard/forward Bruce Brown said his teammate plays hard and can knock down open shots. He predicted that Johnson would be big in the series against Milwaukee.
That didn’t actually happen. Johnson appeared in four games and wasn’t on the court for more than nine minutes in one night. Through those games he attempted a total of six shots and made one.
Johnson, also referred to as “TJ” by his team and media members, appeared in 39 games during the regular season averaging 17.5 minutes, 5.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. He saw the court in eight games during the playoffs, but his playing time average was less than half of what he saw before postseason.
Johnson might not be the Nets star scorer (or even verified on Twitter), but he does bring energy on defense and even while sitting on the bench. On Saturday, the crowd at Barclays Center counted whenever Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo went on the free throw line. Johnson joined the chanting.
Brooks said that through his time covering Brooklyn he can describe Johnson’s personality as laidback and funny. A lot of this, he said, can be seen in the NewlyNets Game series the Nets put out on YouTube.
The Nets roster could look quite different next season. They have the opportunity to keep Durant, Harden and Irving through 2026 with contract extensions this summer. But Brooklyn also has nine free agents, and it’s hard to say where players like Johnson will end up.
The former Bulldog has been with three different NBA teams since going undrafted in 2014. Whether or not he stays with the Nets next season is yet to be seen, but Brooks said that he might be a piece worth keeping.
“I’m curious to see what happens,” the reporter said. “He’s a guy I think they should bring back. I think he makes an impact every time he comes in.”