Five, so the Miami Heat stay alive for a while, after the NBA season resumes in Orlando on June 30:
- Jimmy Butler gets his jump shot back
Jimmy Butler is the pulse of the Miami Heat team. His defensive tenacity and fearless motor has greatly helped Miami to its 41-24 record. On offense, Butler relies on getting into the paint where he can body defenders and draw contact in the lane. Butler is currently shooting 83% from the free throw line at 9.1 attempts per game.
Jimmy sacrifices his body a lot during the game to get to the line, especially when Miami is in a scoring drought. Although Butler is averaging 20.2 points per game his shooting percentages have suffered. He is currently shooting 24.8% from the three and 33.2% from 10 feet out to the three point line.
However, with the newly acquired additions of Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala to take some of the defensive burden off of Butler, we might see a more efficient shooter in Jimmy. It appeared that his shot suffered when he was forced to play major minutes or take on too much of a burden. In addition to initiating the offense Butler was usually seen guarding the best perimeter player on the other team.
Hopefully with the unprecedented Covid-19 break, Butler’s legs got some rejuvenation. If a fresh Butler can improve his jump shot, he might save himself from getting injured, his drive will be more effective, offensive spacing will improve, and he can become a more impactful, energetic player at the end of games. Keeping Jimmy, who is Miami’s closer, fresh during crunch time is key to Miami’s playoff chances.
- Bam Adebayo becomes more aggressive on offense
Bam is a top candidate in the Most Improved Player race. This year he played his way to becoming a first time all star and his game is now known in and around the NBA. He is growing his resume game after game, whether that is dishing out 10 assists, grabbing 15 rebounds, or holding Giannis Antetokounmpo to a season low 13 points in a game.
Bam has become a larger threat every game in all aspects. Yet, if Bam can take some confidence he gains on defense to use when he has the ball, it can unleash a whole new Bam. If defenders have to come out to the perimeter to guard Bam because he can knock down a mid range jumper without hesitation, it will also open the court up more for his passing and it brings the big man out of the paint. This will further space the floor and open the offense for the rest of the Heat’s shooters and playmakers.
- Duncan Robinson stops getting in foul trouble
Robinson is definitely one of the best surprises of the 2019-2020 season. After a rocky preseason performance, Robinson came out hot and actually never cooled down. Robinson shot a scorching 44.8% from the three with 3.7 makes per game on 8.4 attempts. Robinson is a huge threat on offense and a valuable weapon for the Heat.
With his ability to catch fire and stay on fire, it forces defenses to closely guard him and sometimes even deny him the ball. In turn, this spreads the court for other players to drive to the basket and get open shots. However, Duncan gets targeted on defense frequently and gets into foul trouble. Opposing players take him to the basket because first they know he’s a vulnerable defender, and secondly, to get him out of the game. For some reason, referees tend to call very close touch fouls on Robinson which gets him quickly into foul trouble. When he stays on the court and gets minutes, he performs at a higher level. If Robinson can avoid getting into foul trouble, Erik Spoelstra will always have his shooter available at crunch time.
- Tyler Herro improves defensively
Everyone is aware of Tyler Herro’s scoring ability. As a rookie, Herro is torching opposing players with pick and roll reads, catch and shoot threes, and stepback jumpers.
But on defense, he often defends like a rookie. In playoff games there is significantly less room for defensive breakdowns and mistakes in general. If Herro can keep his player in front of him, this will help Bam and Meyers Leonard stay out of foul trouble by having to help from the weak side. If Herro can gain Spolestra’s defensive trust, it will greatly improve the Heat’s rotation options for the playoffs.
- Kendrick Nunn emphasizes his playmaking
The Miami Heat unfortunately don’t have a true point guard, unless you count Goran Dragic as one. With Kendrick Nunn as the starting point guard he had a lot of ball handling responsibilities. This year we have seen Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo take over much of that burden.
Nunn has been an excellent scorer. However, he has gone through some cold spells where it’s hard to keep him on the court because he is simply shooting the Heat out of the game. If Nunn can become more of a playmaking guard, it will fill a big void for the Heat. This will also give Dragic, Bam, and Jimmy a break from ball handling duties and save them for the end of games. Getting more players involved on offense makes for a more efficient and dangerous team because defenses can’t focus on one player. Contending teams always have a complete roster with valuable role players.