Miami freshman Filippos Gkogkos entered the court to play the final three minutes of the Hurricanes 91-60 win over Coppin State on Saturday and collected his first two rebounds.
Gkogkos played basketball Romania and won the national title in 2015 before starting high school. He entered the University of Miami for its business school on an academic scholarship. His role is mainly to contribute on the practice squad and help the team prepare for these games.
Each minute he plays feels like a rewarding bonus. The first time he entered the court was on November 16 against Quinnipiac, but it was for less than a minute and he did not record any stats.
Head coach Jim Larrañaga shared the story of how he ended up joining the Hurricanes as a walk-on.
“Fillip walked into my office the first day of school and said he wanted to be on the team,” recalled Larrañaga, to which his response was, “It’s not like a club you join. Do you play basketball?”
“And he walked around my desk, picked up my iPad and immediately went to YouTube videos and showed me his videos. He said, ‘I played basketball in Romania.’ He speaks five languages. He’s brilliant. And I watched the videos and I said, ‘hey you know what, we’re shorthanded. Why don’t you come and try to be a walk-on?’”
After being told what a walk-on does, Gkogkos’ response was to express his desire to get better. Time will tell whether or not the Hurricanes will create a wide enough margin for him to get on the court during ACC play but everyone remembers their first career moments.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/Fillip.jpg16252475Tony Capobiancohttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgTony Capobianco2019-12-21 18:57:422019-12-21 18:57:42How Filippos Gkogkos joined Hurricanes basketball
Miami has started to show some vulnerability, as evidenced by their first truly bad loss of the year at Memphis.
Jimmy Butler needs a break.
However the team once again found enough gas Wednesday to end Philadelphia’s undefeated run at home. The common denominators for most Heat lineups lately have been Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kendrick Nunn. That trio has been in the top three lineups for Miami in terms of minutes per game, with Duncan Robinson and Meyers Leonard rounding things out.
Switching to Airplane Mode
One intriguing combination has been to bring in Derrick Jones Jr. for Meyers Leonard early and late. Leonard typically opens each half but has not been utilized much, if at all down the stretch. Jones, Jr. has been seeing a huge increase in minutes recently due to several factors, including the razor thin rotation Erik Spoelstra has to work with. That faith has been rewarded as Jones continues to carve out a more significant role. Over the last seven games, DJJ is averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is starting to feel it from downtown. He is 6-for-13 in his last four games and has scored in double figures three times in that span, while his defense has also made a huge impact.
It’s time to talk about how dominant Derrick Jones Jr. has been defensively
His defensive matchup data from the past few games via @nbastats
The lineup featuring Butler/Jones, Jr./Adebayo/Robinson/Nunn has been used in just three games going into Wednesday. Yet in that limited sample the numbers have been encouraging and perhaps worth a look. Rebounding is a legitimate concern without a second traditional big however, time will tell how the scales balance in that aspect.
Butler has been all that Heat fans could have hoped for but is exerting a ton out there. He struggled in his latest return to Philadelphia and is logging a Thibodeau-ian amount of minutes lately. Butler is playing almost 39 minutes per contest in December which is nearly six minutes more than his career average. His 26.3 usage rate this season would be the second highest total of his career if maintained.
While DJJ has been a key cog in the wheel, the emergence of Adebayo is what has held things together. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week has continued to carry the load on both ends. Adebayo is the anchor, not only on defense but from the high post where his skill set shines. Bam is averaging 18/11/5 in December and his ability to finish on the pick-and-roll, or run things from the top, has kept defenses off balance.
Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have been inconsistent but when they are on, they give this group the scoring from the perimeter it needs. Nunn erupted for 26 points at Philadelphia and has hit half his three-point attempts on this road trip. If he can start making the easy plays and distribute the ball, expect another nice progression from the rookie. Meanwhile, Robinson has been feast-or-famine, but when he’s eating the whole offense changes. He has become a comfortable second option on the perimeter when the initial action doesn’t hit, while doing just enough on defense. Robinson is shooting over 47% from deep this month and is getting almost six minutes more per game.
The lineup is shooting 59.6% overall and 52% from deep, while averaging a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. On the opposite end they are holding opponents to just 40% shooting, including 26.5% from beyond the arc. Conversely, they are 6.5 points better overall than the opponent so far. Perhaps that is why they were the “Five on the Floor” to close the game out in Philadelphia.
When Dragic (and Winslow?) return, it will likely shake up the backcourt rotation once again.
For now, we may be seeing this group again when it counts.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/djj-scaled.jpg25601709David Eversolehttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgDavid Eversole2019-12-20 09:50:222019-12-20 09:50:22Attrition may Have Uncovered Potent Lineup for Heat
Since Jim Larranaga became the head coach of the University of Miami basketball team in 2011, the Hurricanes have had four players selected in the NBA Draft.
It started with Shane Larkin in 2013 coming off the magical ACC championship season led by Shane Larkin, who was selected by the Dallas Mavericks. The Hurricanes are working on a three year streak with Davon Reed (Suns) in 2017, Lonnie Walker (Spurs) and Bruce Brown (Pistons) in 2018 and even Dewan Hernandez (Raptors) who was drafted despite not playing a game last season due to NCAA violations.
This year, the Hurricanes have an opportunity to make a run back into the NCAA Tournament and get another player drafted. They’ve been led by the trio of Chris Lykes (14.8 PPG) , DJ Vasiljevic (14.5 PPG) and Kam McGusty (13.9 PPG).
Vasiljevic seems to have the most draft potential given his shooting ability. The senior is currently has a three point shooting percentage of 50.8 and his best game so this season was against Alabama A&M where all six of his shots were from the top of the key and he made five them as well as hit 2-of-2 from the free throw line to total 17 points in an 88-74 Miami win.
“Any time you can shoot the ball the way DJ can shoot the ball, you can find a spot for a shooter because the game is so open nowadays,” Alabama A&M head coach Dylan Howard said. “He’s gonna land somewhere, if not the NBA, he’s gonna go overseas and do great things.”
Vasiljevic has spent all four years with the Hurricanes, something that is now a rarity given his talent. He will surely have his jersey retired after notching his 1,000th career point againt Temple.
“DJ has been with us for four years. I can tell you from the day he arrived he’s one of smartest, hardest working, best shooters, great leader, great competition I’ve been around,” Larranaga said of Vasiljevic. “He is the consummate teammate.”
Saturday’s home game against Coppin State will cap off the Hurricanes’ out of conference slate of the season. Last year Miami entered conference play 8-4 and their lack of depth doomed them to a 14-18 season. This year, the Hurricanes are 7-3 — which includes a season opening loss to Louisville — with all their horses and have a better outlook going into conference play.
The Hurricanes have road wins over Temple, Central Florida and Illinois but also lost to Connecticut, Florida and Louisville, so the question is which set of results is the more accurate representation of the Hurricanes this season.
If Miami wins on Saturday and goes 9-9 in the ACC, would a 17-12 record be enough. That will be the question of 2020.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/UMAM6-scaled.jpg17112560Tony Capobiancohttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgTony Capobianco2019-12-18 16:31:272019-12-18 16:31:27Miami Hurricanes senior DJ Vasiljevic has pro potential
James earned the honor in part to the Lakers victory over Miami last week, Adebayo follows Jimmy Butler as back-to-back winners of the award.
In case you were wondering, it has been a little while since the Heat had consecutive winners.
Bam Adebayo named NBA Eastern Conference Player of Week for period ending Sunday.
First time Heat have won it in consecutive weeks (Jimmy Butler last week), since Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Dec. 2013.
Last Heat player to win two weeks in a row was LeBron in Nov. 2012.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/bam-.jpg10801396David Eversolehttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgDavid Eversole2019-12-16 18:36:582019-12-16 18:36:58Heat’s Bam Adebayo Wins East Player of the Week
During another grueling back-to-back, which the Miami Heat split — this time against the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks — it was apparent they could have used another playmaking guard who could break down the defense and get to the basket, thus taking some burden off All-Star Jimmy Butler. That’s been the reality in many games lately, as Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow recover from injuries.
So why isn’t Dion Waiters available to help the now 19-7 team?
Five Reasons Sports Network has learned the primary reason for Waiters’ latest suspension, this one for six games and his third of the season totaling 14 games. The active suspension, officially for “failure to adhere to team policies, violation of team rules and continued insubordination” was levied Dec. 12 and extends through the Heat’s Dec. 23 game against the Utah Jazz.
According to three sources, it was inspired by an Instagram post of Waiters hanging out on a boat during a time when the team was made to believe he was unavailable because he was sick. Waiters’ Instagram account (@Waiters3), with more than 350,000 followers, is now private, and no such photo is currently still posted as a regular picture post or Instagram story. But apparently the Heat saw something that troubled them.
According to one source, on its own, this infraction may not have warranted such a lengthy suspension, but it’s due to the cumulative effect of all of Waiters’ distractions, cutting against the team’s valued “Culture” during what has been a less tolerance approach to the season. (Heat president Pat Riley acknowledged after the 2018-19 season that he had “let the culture slip” and would not again). Hassan Whiteside, with his tendency to be mopey and me-oriented, was sent to Portland in a trade that netted team-first center Meyers Leonard. Another veteran, James Johnson, has had his own problems getting back in the mix after being sent away from the team during training camp because he didn’t meet the Heat’s conditioning-related goals for him.
But at least he’s played a little. Waiters has not.
This 6-game suspension came after one for seven games, stemming from Waiters’ “panic attack” on a team charter to Los Angeles in November after reportedly eating a “THC infused edible.” After that incident, the Heat, coincidentally or not, played one of their least focused games of the season. And that situation came after he was suspended one game to start the season after acting out on the bench and on social media, in a way the team didn’t appreciate, especially as it reflected his attitude toward Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
According to multiple sources, that’s not all that Waiters has done to create what the team has deemed a distraction over the past few months, after what it termed “fresh start” for the now-28-year-old. The Heat originally signed him to a short, make good contract in 2016, and after he flourished during the season-ending 30-11 run, signed him to a four-year contract amid limited competition from outside suitors. Then he had ankle problems and the disagreements with the team began in earnest during the approach to his rehabilitation.
A pair of rookies, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, have taken minutes that many expected Waiters to get if he was fully recovered from those ankle problems this season, and in shape, which he said he was and largely appeared to be during his training camp and preseason action. And now Duncan Robinson has emerged in the perimeter rotation as well. Even so, with Winslow and Dragic sidelined, there appeared to be an opportunity for Waiters, a capable playmaker, a decent defender and an improved long-range shooter, to at least to showcase himself for a trade that would benefit both him and the Heat. Now, after this latest social media snafu, it appears even more likely that he won’t play for the team again.
The problem, of course, is finding a team that wants the rest of his contract, which expires after next season. Miami has a little more flexibility to find a trade as of today, December 15, since that is the date that many players around the league (signed in the offseason) are eligible to be moved.
But for Waiters….
“There’s been no interest,” one source said. “None. Zip.”
This latest incident won’t help. The team is reluctant to include an asset, whether a young player (such as Winslow or the emerging Derrick Jones Jr.) or a draft pick (Miami has a limited stock of second round picks) just to move Waiters.
Heat don’t have great options with Dion Waiters right now… They can’t void his contract. They can waive him. They can try to buy him out. They can stretch him (would apply to his 2020-21 salary only), but they won’t. They can try to trade him, but won’t give up assets to do it.
Stay with Five Reasons Sports for more, including tonight’s new episode of the Five on the Floor podcast. The Heat play in Memphis on Monday night.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/Dion-at-practice-scaled.jpg17232560Ethan Skolnickhttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgEthan Skolnick2019-12-15 09:08:392019-12-16 17:33:10Exclusive: The Reason for Dion Waiters’ Latest Suspension
Where they hurt you is down low with Anthony Davis who absurdly leads them in points (27.2), rebounds (9.2), blocks (2.6), and steals (1.5) per game.
They do not rely on the three point shot, attempting the sixth lowest (30.1) per game, but they make them at a 37.1% clip which is fifth best league-wide.
That counters Miami’s excellent defense beyond the arc, their biggest challenge in terms of matchups may be how to stop Davis in the block – who can also stretch the floor from the outside.
The keys for the Heat
For the Heat to have a chance they will have to take care of the ball as they are turning it over a league-high 17.7 times per game. Los Angeles leads the league in blocks per game and are third in steals.
While national respect is not a motive for the Heat in any way, shape, or fashion, you know they will want to put on a show under the brighter lights.
The Lakers had an extra rest day Thursday after a 96-87 slugfest win at Orlando on Wednesday.
Miami enters off another home victory, this time a 135-121 overtime thriller against Trae Young and the Hawks on Tuesday.
Young apparently forgot the Heat are closing games this year.
Trae Young yelled “It’s over!” to the Heat crowd after the Hawks went up 6 with 1 minute left
A matchup with two teams rated in the top 10 both offensively and defensively means something has to give.
Both teams should be fresh and expect a full 48 minutes of excellent basketball in this one, the always electric Triple-A should have even more juice Friday.
As should the case for more national spotlight in Heat Nation.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/HEAT-12.12.19.jpeg6911114David Eversolehttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgDavid Eversole2019-12-12 17:33:072019-12-12 17:47:10Heat/Lakers is Game Heat Nation Deserves
This was followed by Duncan Robinson and Jimmy Butler hitting three’s on back to back possessions to send the game to overtime. Miami pulled away in overtime and ended up winning by 14. Shortly after the game, Jimmy Butler proceeded to clown the Hawks young rising star Trae Young with an Instagram video saying “this man @traeyoung is a teller of the future. he was right. game WAS over!”
The comments were full of notable NBA players such as Dwade, Joel Embiid, Klay Thompson just to name a few cracking up over the post of Young prematurely calling game. Young didn’t take the post to harsh poking fun at himself with a response on twitter laughing at his mistake and Butler’s post.
To make things even better, Jimmy wasn’t the only person actively trolling last night either. Bam Adebayo said during his postgame press conference last night “We got shooters” a direct shot at his former teammate Hassan Whiteside. Bam couldn’t help but burst into laughter right after he said it after one of the best performances of his career posting his first triple-double.
This team has been so exciting on and off the court, and it’s great to have an energy around the team we haven’t felt since the Big 3 era down here.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/DSC_0078-2-scaled.jpg17072560Eddie Santanahttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgEddie Santana2019-12-11 15:57:472019-12-11 15:57:47Jimmy Buckets Doesn’t Hold Back on IG
The Miami Heat (15-6) return home Friday against Washington after finishing their three game road trip with two solid wins.
Those two wins against the Nets and Raptors showed Miami could compete with anyone away from the American Airlines Arena.
Now the Heat return home where they are 8-0 and have once again solidified their home court advantage.
This bodes well for a Heat squad that either narrowly missed the playoffs or had less than ideal postseason seeding in recent years.
Taking a look back at some of those past seasons may not be an indicator of future success, but it can provide some context on the importance of holding serve on your home floor.
The 2010-11 Heat team featuring the “Big 3” lost in the NBA Finals to Dallas and finished 29-12 at home and 58-24 overall, the road success was equally as important that season.
Miami had winning streaks of 12, 9, and 8 games that season, but did have a four game home losing streak as well. They stepped it up on their home floor in the NBA playoffs with a 9-2 home record, winning all home games in the first three rounds before collapsing and losing two out of three to Dallas in the NBA Finals -including Game 6 to end it.
In the 2011-12 season the Heat were once again strong on their home court en route to their second NBA title, finishing with a 28-13 home mark. This team was less streaky than the previous year with a long winning streak of nine games, the Heat would have several five game runs as well.
Miami would elevate their play at home during the playoffs, only dropping two games. The Heat were down 3-2 to Boston in the Eastern Conference before a season saving win at the TD Center in Game 6 would set up a closeout game at home. In Game 7 Miami wore down Boston 101-88 at home and earned their second straight finals trip. Having home court in that series made a huge difference.
Miami would match up with a young Oklahoma City team featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in the NBA Finals. After dropping the opening game on the road, Miami would put their foot down and swept the next four including the last three at home.
The 2012-13 team took that earlier success to new heights on the way to back-to-back titles and they obliterated opponents at home, finishing with a 37-5 record.
During that campaign the Heat opened with a 9-0 home mark, and won 16 straight at home during their epic 27-game run overall.
That season would also end with two of the most iconic home games in Heat history.
Miami was down 3-2 in that series against San Antonio and on life support coming back to Miami after losing twice in the Lone Star State. Lebron James would silence the critics on his home court with a triple double (32/10/11) in Game 6, followed by dropping 37 points in Game 7.
In the last season of the Big 3 era, 2013-14, Miami would again finish with a stellar home record of 31-10. They won five straight games at home twice, and also notched a nine game run during the regular season. It seemed like the Heat were poised to win their third consecutive title once the playoffs started, Miami won all eight home games in the first three rounds on their way to a Finals rematch with San Antonio.
Home Court Taketh Away
That series would be different in one huge regard as the Spurs possessed home court, opening with a 110-95 win in San Antonio. Miami would bounce back in Game 2 and send it back to the 305, however the offense would fall apart in spectacular fashion.
The Heat would lose Game 3 111-92 and Game 4 107-86, their lowest point total of the postseason. This collapse would be too much to overcome as San Antonio would exact revenge in Game 5 on their home court 104-87 and emphatically closing the championship window for that Heat team. James would subsequently depart back to Cleveland, and a middling era of Miami Heat basketball would ensue.
Miami would miss the playoffs in the 2014-15 season and had a losing record (20-21) at home, finishing 37-45 overall and missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. In the five years after losing in the finals to San Antonio, Miami missed the playoffs in three of them. In 2016 they finished 41-41 overall and just 23-18 at home, narrowly missing out on extra basketball.
Last year the Heat again missed the playoffs and played losing basketball at home, finishing 19-22 at American Airlines Arena. In a mediocre Eastern Conference outside the top group, Miami was poised for a spot in the postseason but could not get it done at home. They lost six straight home games twice and closed out the year losing five of six overall.
Needless to say, this year’s team looks much different than recent versions. The additions of Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, along with the huge advancement of Bam Adebayo has altered the course of the franchise on a dime.
With suffocating defense and timely offense, the 2019 Miami Heat are beating the teams they should.
Whether on the road or at home, they seem less susceptible to extended stretches of inconsistency this year.
While past accomplishments may not affect the present – given the history and impact of the home record, this version of the Miami Heat is on the right trajectory.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/HEAT-EDIT-2.14.19-1.jpeg425680David Eversolehttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgDavid Eversole2019-12-05 16:48:282019-12-05 17:00:28Home is Where the Heat is: Why Miami Needs Home Cooking
The Miami Heat are set to take on the Boston Celtics in what should be a great test for a young team. With the Boston Celtics coming in with a 14-5 record, they are certainly one of the top teams in the conference. Miami needs to focus on limiting Boston’s free-throw opportunities if they want to win this game.
Coming into Wednesday’s action, shooting guard Brad Wanamaker is ranked ninth in the NBA in free-throw percentage. With a 90.7 % from the line, he is extremely successful from there. Point guard Kemba Walker also touts a 90.7 percentage from the line. Part of the reason for their success is that they are able to get the line often.
One of the things the Boston Celtics have done well this year is get to the line. They are a team that likes to drive to the basket, and initiate contact. Walker does it very well in particular. Once he gets a full head of steam heading to the basket, it is difficult to stop him. Wanamaker does a good job of initiating contact on the shot. As soon as he releases the basketball, he looks to initiate contact with the defender.
Walker is 78-86 from the line this season while Wanamaker Is 41-45 from the free-throw line on the season.
What can the Miami Heat do to stop this?
In addition to Walker and Wanamaker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are also very good at driving to the basket. That quartet will undoubtedly keep Miami off-balance. Miami needs to force them to take perimeter shots and play tight defense. It may sound a bit strange, but Miami should live with them making jumpers this game. If Miami lets them go to the rim, they will force the Heat into foul trouble and put the Celtics at the free-throw line.
The Celtics are in the middle of the pack when it comes to making three-point shots. Converting at 34.5%, Boston has struggled a bit in that area. Miami should look to contain the drive to the basket and forced the Celtics to take uncomfortable shots. It’s easier said than done, but It can be done. If Miami wants to keep the winning streak going, they must avoid putting Boston at the free-throw line.
https://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/2019-12-04-1.png10801920Danny Jaillethttps://www.fivereasonssports.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveReasonsWebsiteLogo.svgDanny Jaillet2019-12-04 18:47:062019-12-04 18:47:06Miami Heat: Team needs to avoid fouling inside the paint