Goran Dragic’s second game back from his injury proved his overall importance for this Heat team. He shouldn’t be looked at as a 34 year old veteran, but instead the one piece that makes the entire offense flow.
So, here’s a look into what Dragic did well in their win over the Utah Jazz.
– Controlling the mid-range
Tyler Herro being out and Kendrick Nunn fading slowly away from his mid-range game means Dragic needed to find those spots more often. And that’s exactly what he did.
On this play, he ran the usual pick and roll with Bam Adebayo, while pulling up immediately against the favorable drop coverage. If Miami didn’t have Dragic to find these dead-spots throughout the game, they wouldn’t have sustained their lead, since Miami made it essential to get to the rim early in the game.
Once he began to set the tone on plays like this, easy opportunities from beyond the arc began to open up for the role players.
– Well, his legs are back.
When a veteran player returns from an injury, the jumper is usually a bit of a worry right away since it takes some time to get your legs back under you. But, it didn’t take Dragic much time to get back to normal.
These two plays in the second quarter prove that to be true, and it also shows the importance of his three point shot for a guy like Duncan Robinson. There haven’t been many consistent three point shooters lately, other than Kendrick Nunn, which is why both Dragic and Herro returning is so important for the overall success of Miami’s offense.
Dragic is a three level scorer, who can get to any of the three levels when he really wants to, which will be displayed next.
– Finding his spots on the court
As mentioned previously, being a three level scorer is one thing, but getting to any of the three levels consistently is when that label is truly important.
The way Dragic can control his defender on the drive is truly like no other. On the first play, he cuts off Donovan Mitchell when getting downhill, while Mitchell switches to the roller. Dragic noticing his only defender is Derrick Favors deep in the paint, he fades away for an easy bucket.
The second play is similar, except Dragic utilizes a snake dribble when Mitchell switches, and goes right into a floater over the top of Favors with zero hesitation. Once again, this type of offense is what Miami has been missing majorly.
– Setting up the offense
It’s never an easy offense to dissect when Rudy Gobert is the one you’re facing in the drop coverage, but Bam Adebayo found a way. He found the spots slightly away from the rim to force Gobert to edge away from the rim.
The reason Dragic is being highlighted here is due to the overall situation. Miami has missed a guy to set up offense while Butler is off the floor, and that’s exactly what he did. Nunn has improved majorly as a play-maker, but there’s still a difference between a good passer and setting up offense.
Dragic finding Adebayo and others in their spots during these minutes were essential for Miami sustaining a close score before Butler returned.
– The thing Miami has missed most
And finally, the third level of being a three level scorer. There’s a difference between a guy that can get to the rim and score, like Tyler Herro, and a guy who will take it right at your chest at the basket for an easy layup, like Goran Dragic.
As I’ve mentioned many times, the Heat have missed that on-ball guy who can explode to the basket and get downhill in situations that it’s truly necessary. And in the fourth quarter, it was truly necessary.
On the first play, he took it right up on the best rim protector in the NBA, leading to a not so easy bucket. A few minutes later, he explodes by Joe Ingles and takes it up on the rotating Gobert once again, except this one was a tad bit easier.
Once Miami has a fully healthy roster, the offensive spacing will look better and better, meaning Dragic can get to the rim more and more while Butler gets some rest on the sideline.