P.J. Tucker of the Miami Heat celebrates a three pointer against the Boston Celtics (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
STATS & ANALYSIS PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

Why Every NBA Team Needs a Guy Like PJ Tucker

PJ Tucker isn’t going to stuff the stat sheet, but he brings a toughness and level of experience that championship teams need.

In the modern NBA, teams can’t compete for a championship without at least one player who values grit and tenacity. In other words, players who get it “out the mud.” PJ Tucker has carved a lane for himself in this niche for a decade, and is now doing so with the Miami Heat.

The 37-year-old veteran has 13 years of pro experience in the leagues all over the world, and knows what it takes to win. Additionally, his European basketball experience includes MVP awards and championships in Israel and Germany. His value comes from being a versatile, yet undersized big who can defend virtually any position. Whether in defensive isolations or switching off pick and rolls, Tucker has the savvy to know where to be and when to stop players from scoring.

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Like many other defensive players, if Tucker isn’t on your team, you probably despise how he plays basketball. Players like Tucker, Patrick Beverley, and Marcus Smart will smack talk in your ear, give hard fouls, and draw charges that impact a game. But even in limited minutes, it’s clear to see why Heat Nation loves Tucker.

PJ Tucker Salary and Contract Details

Contract length: 2 years (2022 Player Option)
Total value: $14,350,000
Average annual value (AAV): $7,175,000
Free agency (Unrestricted): 2023

There aren’t many players in the NBA who are willing to put their bodies on the line like Tucker. Especially ones who are already proven in the role with an NBA championship on their resume. But it isn’t just defensive responsibilities that make Tucker live up to his team-friendly deal.

It’s also his veteran leadership, a forgotten component of the recipe to success in the league. Between himself and Udonis Haslem, the Heat have two vets that can answer all the questions from the younger players on the roster. They can guide players through defensive assignments, get through specific screens, and read a player’s tendencies on the court.

Off the court, they can help players grow by showing them their offseason regimen. By showing how to take care of their body to perform in the NBA for over a decade, yet fine-tuning their skills to come back next season with one more trick in their offensive bag.

Last season, Tucker was instrumental in helping the Milwaukee Bucks win their second title in franchise history. He rebounded well, defended skillfully, and was able to hit essential shots that rallied his team back into the game.

Sneaker and Wine King

On the court, Tucker is considered a villain to opposing teams. But off the court, he’s known as the sneaker king, a title that he doesn’t even want, despite having some of the most exclusive kicks in NBA history. Some of his shoes are so rare that he gets them even before the players they are designed for.

Just ask Carmelo Anthony, who was shocked when media outlets revealed that PJ had a rare pair of Air Jordan 5 PEs made exclusively for Carmelo and his NASL soccer team in Puerto Rico.

He’s also well-versed in wine as a member of the NBA’s unofficial wine club, featuring LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, and CJ McCollum. Tucker considers himself the wine OG of the NBA, stating that he’s been a connoisseur since before some players even knew what wine was.

“I’ve been collecting wine since 2007, 2008. I’ve been doing it a long time,” Tucker told Andscape in an interview. “I respect everybody and their palette and what they drink. And many guys do the wineries and make their wine and all that. I’m not into that. I don’t want to do that. The places I would get wine, if I would put my name on it, they would never have me. They would never have anybody because it’s the best of the world.”

Tucker is a man built on defying the odds. In high school, critics didn’t think he’d make an impact at the collegiate level. In college, they felt that he would fail in the pros. After numerous European stints, Tucker found his place as the type of NBA player that every team needs on its roster.

Social Presence and Achievements

Sponsorships / Endorsements: Nike, Meta sneakers NFT
Followers on Instagram1,018,864
Resume:

  • Big 12 All-Freshman Team (2004)
  • Big 12 Player of the Year (2006)
  • NBA champion (2021)
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