Miami Heat are getting the best version of Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have been a perfect match.

You can tell that Jimmy Butler likes the Miami Heat and the organization. You can see by the way he interacts with the media in his press conferences, and just his overall demeanor in practice.  He is just happy to be here. Sometimes athletes’ put on a happy face when they reach their new destination. Underneath the million-dollar smile, they aren’t really happy. That’s not the case with Jimmy Butler.

It’s showing in his statistics as well. On the year, he is averaging 18.4 points per game 7.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds. The 7.2 assists are the most he has had in his career to this point. The 18.4 points per game are the most has had in a season since 2018-19, during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has always had the ability to put up numbers and he has always been a solid player whereever he has gone. However, in Miami the ballgame has completely changed for Butler. Unlike in the past, it has changed for the better

For someone who likes winning, going to a team with rookies and unproven players could be a frustrating endeavor. Instead of being frustrated, Butler is leading. The way he carries himself is a complete turnaround from some of his other NBA stops. He rubbed people the wrong way in Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. Part of it was due to his fierce, competitive nature. On a team that is still looking for a source of direction, Butler is proving to be the leader and he is embracing it.

In talking to the media on Tuesday, Butler acknowledged that he is happy in South Beach. The biggest reason? He’s allowed to be himself.

Butler as himself has been great for Miami Heat

Butler being himself has paid off for Miami so far. He has recorded three games of at least 10 assists, and three games of at least 20 points. He has also logged a fair amount of minutes. In seven games this season, he has logged at least 30 minutes.

Butler is working to his strengths while getting others involved. That’s huge as the team looks to build around guys like Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. It has undoubtedly helped everybody get touches on the court and we have seen players such as Bam Adebayo really thrive in this offense. Furthermore, he has taken on a leadership role. With the Miami Heat sporting a 9-3 record, it’s safe to say that Butler”s efforts have paid off.

Between moving the basketball, scoring, and getting others involved, Jimmy Butler is thriving. As the Miami Heat look to make headway in a crowded Eastern Conference, they will need  him to keep up this level of play. They need him to continue being the best version of himself.

 

Jalen Hurts Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade gives Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts ringing endorsement

In light of the recent devastating injury suffered by Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins fans have been forced to look elsewhere for a potential franchise quarterback. While there’s still a chance Tagovailoa will make a full recovery, it is now riskier than ever for Miami to put all their eggs in one basket. Tagovailoa may return to form, or he may never play football again. Even if he does, there’s also a chance he will never be the same player he once was. Does that mean the Dolphins shouldn’t draft him? Not necessarily. Miami has several draft picks to spare, and Tagovailoa will likely be available when the Dolphins pick now that his health is a huge question mark. Where’s the harm in drafting two quarterbacks?

However, there is another possibility. After suffering such a major injury, Tagovailoa could decide that his best option is to return to Alabama for one more year. By doing so, he can rebuild his draft stock and prove to potential suitors that he still has what it takes. But that leaves Miami without a clear cut QB selection in the 2020 draft. Who do they turn to now? Oregon’s Justin Herbert? Georgia’s Jake Fromm? Utah State’s Jordan Love?

The 2020 draft class is filled with talented quarterbacks besides Tagovailoa, and a good coaching staff has a very good chance of developing one of them into a franchise quarterback. But there’s one quarterback who has captured the attention of another legendary athlete in Miami’s history. Former Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade took to Twitter early Sunday morning to express his support for Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts.

There’s a certain irony to this. Back during Hurts’ junior year, he was replaced as the starter at Alabama by none other than Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts did well as his backup and the two became good friends. Hurts recently offered his thoughts on Tagovailoa’s injury.

“It hurt me to hear it. He’s a great friend of mine,” Hurts said. “I pray for him and his family. I hope everything works out for the best for him.”

That said, Hurts did want to have an opportunity to play for himself. So, for his senior year, Hurts announced he was transferring to the University of Oklahoma. Since then, Hurts has become a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and he leads the nation in passer efficiency rating. In second place, is Tagovailoa. Hurts is breaking Baker Mayfield’s records and he’s showing amazing talent as both a runner and a passer.

However, he’s also making mistakes. His recent incredible comeback against Baylor was partly necessary because of errors he himself made. But the fact he made that spectacular comeback, bringing the Sooners back from a 28-3 deficit to win, proves his talent is there, waiting for someone to develop and utilize.

But what makes Wade, a basketball player, an authority on potential NFL quarterbacks? Frankly, not much. But there is one universal trait among all competitive sports. The untraceable concept of “it.”

Wade has “it.”

There’s a saying that game recognizes game. True, Wade likely knows next to nothing about what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. However, there’s a strong chance he can recognize that all so important “it” factor that defines Wade’s entire career in Jalen Hurts.

The kind of quarterback the Dolphins need to start their path back to greatness must possess that intangible. For Wade to endorse Jalen Hurts so emphatically means he must recognize something that makes Hurts special. True, he may not be Tagovailoa, but even Tagovailoa himself may not be that player anymore. So the next best thing may very well be Hurts. If nothing else, it should prompt Miami’s scouting department to take a very close look at him.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Kameron McGusty part of a growing trend in Miami Hurricanes basketball

Kameron McGusty is looking like he could be the latest Hurricane to come to the University of Miami as a transfer and become the next star.

Last year it was Zach Johnson, who came from Florida Gulf Coast and balled out as a senior. A couple years before that, Angel Rodriguez returned home after spending his first two years at Kansas State and led the Hurricanes to the NCAA Tournament.

This is starting to become head coach Jim Larranaga’s recruiting signature in Miami. By bringing in transfers like McGusty, Miami gets a more complete player ready to go after a year of development.

“The good thing about sitting out is you can identify the areas of your game that you want to pay close attention to and improve,” Larranaga said. “In Kam McGusty’s case, one of the things he wanted to do is to get stronger, to really be in the weight room and work on his body. The second thing is he really wanted to work on his three point shot and [assistant head coach Chris Caputo] worked with him every day and Kam worked on that part of his game. The last thing was we wanted him to play multiple positions. So now in the games that we already played, he’s played the 1, the 2, the 3 and the 4, and that’s unusual for a primater player.”

McGusty’s improvement jumped out of the box score on Saturday’s 80-52 win over Quinnipiac. He shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-6 3-pointers, scoring a game-high 22 points.

“I see the improvements in a little bit of everything,” McGusty said. “My conditioning is a little better. I’m a little stronger on the court. My decision making is better, I just think overall I’m a better player.”

McGusty came to Miami after two years at Oklahoma. Due to the NCAA’s rules on transfers, he had to patiently wait a year for his opportunity.

“Probably the hardest part is not being able to suit up with the people that you practice with and the guys that you train with,” McGusty said. “It’s very difficult but it does build character. I felt it gives you more motivation going into the next year stepping on that court.”

It was just as hard on the rest of the team as it was for him. The Hurricanes only had seven recruited scholarship players to work with last season and the lack of depth proved to be their downfall, resulting in a 14-18, and 5-13 conference record.

Center Rodney Miller took a non-medical redshirt last season to better condition himself and develop his game, which kept McGusty company.

“It was a good year for us to grind together,” McGusty said.

Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo’s contributions proving invaluable

The Miami Heat are lucky to have him on the roster,

Bam Adebayo is having himself a heck of a year. The Miami Heat won again on Saturday night by a 109-94 score thanks to his contributions. His knack for getting boards and scoring points efficiently has been a theme throughout the entire season.

In Saturday’s game, he recorded 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. He also had a +7 plus minus rating. This is now his fifth game in a row scoring at least 10 points. This is also his third game in a row grabbing at least 14 rebounds. He was a huge reason why they were able to beat the Pelicans on Saturday.

His efforts are showing up on the stat sheet. His 10.3 rebounds are the most he has had to this point in his career.

Impact on Miami Heat has been felt

This season, he has really turned himself into a complete and balanced player. He always had the potential to be one, and it is meshing well with what the Heat are trying to do right now. The way I see it, his scoring is a secondary matter. The fact that he is attacking the boards is perhaps his best asset. Miami definitely has enough scoring on the roster. They have been needing to find a player that can consistently rebound. Adebayo Has shown that he can do that regularly this season.

Particularly in today’s NBA, rebounding is crucial. That leads to second-chance opportunities and high-percentage shots. Adebayo has done a great job this season of getting both second chances and opportunities to keep plays alive. He is exactly the type of big man Miami needs this season. With such a potent offense, allowing guys like Butler Nunn, and Herro to get second looks is key.

It will be interesting to see if he can keep up this level of play throughout the rest of the season. He has been putting up impressive numbers, and his ability to rebound effectively is a lost art in today’s NBA. I can’t wait to see how he performs over the course of the next couple of games. Perhaps even more important, I will be interested to see if he can sustain this for the rest of the season. If he can, the Miami Heat will give opponents another thing  to worry about when game-planning

Miami Sports…are They Becoming Good Again?

The ever changing Miami sports landscape has been on a steady trend downward since the end of the “Big 3 era” of Miami Heat basketball.

Now there were some amazing moments since then, such as Dwyane Wade’s Last Dance and the Miami Miracle.

Those fleeting instances have been sandwiched between years of mediocrity.

The Marlins tore it all down, again.

The Heat had a bloated, ineffective roster.

We all know where Adam Gase left the Dolphins.

Manny Diaz is trying to bring the Hurricanes back.

Even the Panthers, a team with legitimate playoff aspirations recently, has disappointed.

Expecting anything different has become an annual disappointment.

Until now.

Dolphins Vision Unfolding

All of a sudden there is exciting and competitive football being played by the Miami Dolphins.

Who for once are actually exceeding expectations.

Yet we still aren’t happy.

Brian Flores has steadily guided a team lacking NFL level talent across multiple positions into a disciplined and passionate group.

Flores and his coaching staff are developing players and proving it “Takes No Talent” to compete.

Chris Grier has a war chest of draft capital, and actual capital of about 140M to quickly add top tier free agents.

With a shot at a franchise quarterback to boot.

For once the Dolphins have a plan and the cast to execute and deliver a winner.

Culture Shock

The Miami Heat seem to have figured out their roster around a true star in Jimmy Butler.

And are interesting as hell.

 

Getting back to their defensive identity and bringing back the “Culture” led by Butler has galvanized a young roster.

Currently the Heat rank fourth in defensive rating and third in steals per game (9.6). Miami also ranks in the top ten league wide in points-per-game allowed (105.7, 6th) steals (96, 5th) and overall defensive FG% (.437, 9th).

Smart perimeter defense has been key, the Heat lead the NBA in 3-point FG% allowed at just 28.9%. Only Miami and Oklahoma City are holding teams under 30% from deep as of November 13th.

 

Hassan Whiteside went to Portland which paved the way for Bam Adebayo to become the all around catalyst we see before us. Before being sidelined with a concussion, Justise Winslow was taking a huge step forward as well.

Finally the Heat have a cohesive roster that fits their style of play and identity, in a wide open Eastern Conference the Heat are suddenly poised for a home playoff series if they stay on track.

Cardiac Cats

In Sunrise the Florida Panthers under new coach Joel Quenneville are playing exciting, action packed hockey. Florida has won their last two games by an 11-9 margin…that’s a lot of goals!

After making franchise history with a four goal rally against Boston this week, the Panthers are showing tremendous toughness and resolve in late game pressure situations.

 

In the two wins against Boston and New York the Panthers outscored them 5-0 in the third period. Despite shaky goaltending and defense the Cats have found a way to get it done in the final 20 minutes.

It helps to have a top ten offense on your side, Aleksander Barkov has points in six straight games entering Thursday’s action and the power play continues to dominate.

Florida ranks second with the man advantage, converting 26.8% of their power play opportunities.

If the Panthers can figure out their issues on the blue line and in goal to support a dynamic offense, they have a great chance of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

Hurricanes’ Season a Tale of two Teams

The Miami Hurricanes football team has had a polarizing season to say the least.

From quarterback uncertainty and losses against inferior teams early in the year, to blowout wins and record breaking performances – the 2019 Miami Hurricanes have kept fans on the edge of their seats.

After an uneven start to the season on offense, Jarren Williams has settled in as QB1 and hitting the big plays that were missing earlier in the year.

 

The Hurricanes have won three straight in ACC play by a combined margin of 95-49, after starting conference play 1-3 the turnaround has been drastic.

On the other side of the ball the defense has been wrecking house led by new and older names alike.

Senior linebackers Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quarterman have experienced a resurgence of energy and effectiveness.

While Gregory Rousseau went from out of the starting lineup to the best defensive lineman in the ACC, and one of the best in all of college football.

 

The Hurricanes have a star in the making both under center and at defensive end, two of the most important positions in football.

And they are both freshman.

With a coaching staff starting to figure it out and a favorable ACC Coastal division to call home, the sun is shining bright in Coral Gables.

Don’t Forget About us!

While the teams that are in action in November are getting all the attention, there are more great storylines in Miami sports on the way.

The Marlins have quietly built one of the best farm systems in all of baseball.

Oh yeah, we are getting professional soccer too!

We could be saying this time next year “what a time to be a Miami sports fan”

A statement that is well deserved and long overdue.

Follow us on Twitter for all things Miami sports @FiveReasonsSports and @SportsWaveDave.

Photo by Tony Capobianco.

Bam, Heat hold off Pistons in matchup of undermanned

At least through three quarters, the Miami Heat did what you should do to weary, groggy teams.

And the Detroit Pistons, in the state they arrived Tuesday, were that. Without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, their star and resurgent sixth man. Groggy after a flight that arrived at 5:30am.

While the 117-108 victory, which was supremely sloppy down the stretch, may not seem like much, this was the type of game the Heat has found a way to lose the past couple of seasons, especially when they were shorthanded themselves. On this night, however, without Tyler Herro, Derrick Jones Jr. and James Johnson — and playing three G-League players regularly — they dominated Detroit at the start and that was enough to survive. While the Pistons pulled closer late, even with Andre Drummond fouling out, it never felt as if the Heat lost control, especially as Jimmy Butler (20 points) finally started looking to score.

The pacesetters? The veterans. Goran Dragic entered the NBA in the top 5 in bench scoring, and continued his comfortable rhythm with his eighth double-digit performance (18 points) in 10 outings. Butler, as he’s done all but three times this season, worked his way into the game offensively, setting tempo and finding shooters, with 13 of Miami’s 34 assists. And Miami’s young vet, Bam Adebayo, who had 18 points and 14 rebounds, flashed his shooting touch with a 17-foot jumper and a nifty hook, before fouling out.

That, plus at least three three-pointers apiece from Duncan Robinson and the recently-struggling Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk, was sufficient. All 10 Heat players scored, including two-way guard Daryl Macon (flown in as a reinforcement) and Mr. 305 Udonis Haslem, who got the loudest ovation when he entered, chewing on his mouthpiece.

Cleveland is next, part of a stretch that should see the Heat soar to 11-3, provided they close better than they did Tuesday night.

(Cover photo by Alejandro Villegas)

Tweets of the night:

 

Miami Heat suspend Dion Waiters for 10 games

This is yet another chapter in the Miami Heat-Dion Waiters saga.

It has been a tumultuous season for Dion Waiters and the Miami Heat, and it is apparent that the Heat have had enough of his antics. On Sunday, it was announced that the team has suspended him for 10 games.

The most recent incident occurred on Friday when Waiters was ill because he ate too many gummies. The incident occurred a flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, before the team was set to take on the Lakers. He fell asleep by the time the plane landed and he had a seizure when he woke up.  Waiters’ mother took to Instagram on Friday to deny the report.

Having missed nine games already this season,  he is in the third season of a four-year, $52 million contract.

In the meantime, the Miami Heat are performing well despite all of this off-court drama. Currently, they are ranked third in the Eastern Conference with a 6-3 record. They are set to take on the Pistons on the road on Tuesday.

It definitely seems like the Miami Heat are tired of the drama surrounding Waiters, whether it be one situation or another. This 10-game suspension is certainly warranted, given all of the things the team has had to go through this year with him. It would be one thing if he was a crucial part of this team, and was relied upon heavily in order for Miami to win. However, they have shown that they don’t need Waiters to win. Others have stepped up nicely to fill the void left by him.

It will be interesting to see if he has a role with the team following the suspension. I’m guessing his days in Miami are numbered. He is becoming a huge distraction and is obviously disgruntled. It may be best for both parties to cut ties and move forward. It is quite possible that a change of scenery is needed for him to continue being an effective player in the NBA. Right now, things are not going well for him in Miami.  It may be best for everyone involved to move forward.

Looking high, low for info about Dion Waiters’ latest issue

The Dion Waiters saga in Miami has taken a strange twist. After being fat shammed by most of NBA twitter for seemingly eating too many sweets while recovering from an ankle injury last season, his relationship with the Miami Heat took an even more sour turn this season. He was ultimately suspended by the Heat for conduct detrimental to the team, after his bench and Instagram comments about Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. And, even while being declared active, has not played for the team yet this season.

Now, on the team flight to Los Angeles, Waiters suffered a medical emergency when he overdosed on gummies according to Andy Slater of 640AM.ThTh

 

 

We certainly hope Waiters is OK, regardless of the circumstances.

The Heat have yet to comment further, as they returned Saturday and have a day off before preparing for Tuesday’s home game against Detroit.

While we wait, Twitter has been ruthless, as expected.

 

The guess here, however, is the Heat are not laughing.

More as it comes in.

National Media Pushes Dumb Jimmy Butler Narrative

The national narrative about Jimmy Butler strikes again. After Miami defeated Phoenix last behind Jimmy Butler’s 34 points, he stepped into the winners’ circle with Jason Jackson.  

 

Jokingly he sent teammates Bam Adebayo and Meyers Leonard back to the locker room before getting he interviewed. When asked about the video bombs, Butler responded; “It’s not about them, It’s about me right now”.  

Of course, the national media had a field day with this as many took Butler’s comments out of context and responded with tweets calling him a “bad teammate.”  Even though Butler was clearly laughing throughout the video, people ripped him apart.  

These preset narratives of Butler being a bad teammate are absolutely ridiculous. Butler has preached being unselfish this year even saying last night that he spoke with coaches who wanted him to be more aggressive. He has embraced being a leader and took all the young players under his wing, especially rookie Tyler Herro whom he continues to have only great things to say about. 

 

 

The majority of the hate for Butler seems to comes from the manner in which he forced his way out of Minnesota. Critics deemed him a selfish teammate who only cared about his own personal benefit. This summer again didn’t help his image when he made his way down to South Beach. Philly fans tore Butler apart when he chose Miami over the 76ers who were a Kawhi Leonard bounce away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

Many view this as Butler’s retirement tour. 

The national media will continue to tear Jimmy apart for even looking at the camera wrong but down here in South Florida we love how he has embraced the Culture and look forward to the future with him. 

As do his teammates…

Breaking it Down: Nekias Duncan on Heat-Hawks II

How is this happening?

How are the Miami Heat off to a 4-1 start with Jimmy Butler missing three games and playing passively on offense for most of the other two?

How are Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro doing this…. as rookies?

How is someone on a two-way contract, such as Chris Silva, contributing so much?

After the Heat’s latest win, this one 106-97 against the Hawks in Atlanta, Nekias Duncan (@NekiasNBA) does what he does: a comprehensive video breakdown on Twitter.

Duncan contributes to Five Reasons Sports Network from time to time, so look for more of his work here.

Still, this thread is worth your time, just like this Heat team: