Answering Heat Questions: Break-Out Players, Depth, Team Tempo, and More

We are slowly approaching the beginning of the 2021-2022 NBA season, and it should be an interesting one for the Miami Heat. New faces, new skill-sets, but the same goal.

In exactly one week, the Heat will be kicking off media day, and in exactly two weeks, the Heat will play the Atlanta Hawks in their first preseason game.

So, as we grow closer and closer to that initial tip-off, I have another edition of answering your guys questions. Roster worries, wild predictions, or pure excitement. Let’s hop right into some of the current focuses surrounding this team…

On a Heat team full of veteran players who have plenty of experience in this league, break-out players won’t be flying out of nowhere. But I do think one guy can end up surprising a lot of people.

Max Strus.

He came as a surprise to many down the stretch of last season, and he’s not done yet. He just came off an incredible Summer League run, where the coaching staff continued to test him to see what he was capable of. They treated him like “the guy,” and he was just that.

Now, heading into a new season, he has a defined role off the bench. And although that bench unit may not be filled with big name guys, he’s somebody that can make a huge impact and really “break-out.”

Although he was used on the ball a lot in Las Vegas, he’s going to be simplified offensively back into a spot-up role. Duncan Robinson exiting the floor while Strus is standing at the scorers table with his warm-ups on the floor beside him will be quite a formula.

To answer your second question, I don’t feel like my take on Miami’s seeding is very bold. This is a squad built for the post-season, but in the mean time, they must get to a decent seed if they want to truly show out on that stage.

With that said, I feel the 3 seed is a reasonable spot. That basically means you have a path to win the first round as the favored team, face a Milwaukee Bucks type 2 seed in an anticipated rematch, before arriving in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Brooklyn Nets.

Of course it’s way too early to be predicting that, but the goal will be to get in that 3 range. And I believe it’s possible if the expected leaps occur across the roster.

In a lot of ways over the past two seasons, the zone defense was a ” multiple weak defenders are on the floor” wrinkle.

On this new roster, there won’t be a ton of those stretches. Two reasons that it was so effective in the post-season during the bubble run was 1) it surprised teams on a game to game basis and 2) it was mixed in and wasn’t being harped on.

This past season, the 2-3 zone wasn’t just a wrinkle, it became a staple of their defensive scheme. Now that things have changed this season, I believe we see it less through the first 82. But not totally thrown away.

It could be something that is utilized in the Duncan Robinson-Tyler Herro minutes. Both of them got comfortable in that zone since they can rely on positional defending instead of isolation defending. And that’s a perfect recipe for the two of them.

For the second question, I absolutely believe we see a major increase in both pace and fast-break opportunities.

All defensive teams should be highly effective in getting transition buckets, but even when Miami cracked that top 10 in defense last season, fast-break points never rose with it. But well, that team wasn’t as close to being as good on that end of the floor as the new squad, and secondly, that team didn’t have Kyle Lowry.

No matter the age linked to his basketball reference profile, Lowry loves to get out and run in the open floor. He’s known for catching defenses lacking not only off of misses, but also sprinting down the floor off an inbound.

Bam Adebayo is an exceptional transition weapon, but it needs to be seen more. Retreating the ball back out to set up offense time and time again just won’t cut it, especially next to Lowry. We’re going to see a hint of rim running Adebayo back in those scenarios, and that’s exactly what both him and this Heat team need.

The depth of this Heat team is the one thing that seems to be getting harped on throughout the off-season, but it pretty much rides on an inconclusive factor.

Victor Oladipo, as I’ve said throughout the off-season, is the biggest wild card on this Heat team, and possibly one of the biggest across the league. If he can come back at a decent percentage, there won’t be any worries about the bench unit on this team.

But let’s approach this topic as if Oladipo isn’t back, which he won’t be for a portion of the season.

Let me start by saying there won’t be many bench “lineups” this season. We saw it a ton last season because it’s hard to keep one of Jimmy Butler and Adebayo on the floor at all times throughout a regular season. Adding Kyle Lowry to that group makes it a lot easier.

These bench guys may be used a ton, but it’s going to be alongside the top dogs on the team.


Tyler Herro will be getting a bunch of on-ball reps off the bench, which will be the true deciding factor when discussing the depth of this team. If he performs at the level that many know he’s capable of, then these worries wont even be considered.

As I mentioned earlier, Strus will be put in a perfect situation to succeed and I believe he will. But don’t discredit Gabe Vincent completely. I believe people would be a lot higher on him heading into the year if he played in Vegas, but it was much more important to take care of his body in preparation.

Lastly, the veteran back-up front-court of Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon will be something to keep an eye on. Morris is awaiting an opportunity with a defined role, and I believe this scenario is perfect. No front-court player on this team has his identical skill-set, so it’ll all come down to efficiency for him.

As for Dedmon, we know his efficiency and play-ability in that role, but the one question will be availability. If certain stuff breaks down, Omer Yurtseven will be waiting for his name to be called, but either way, they’re deep at that position.

It’s not about evaluating the bench group as a whole, it’s much more about looking at their roles on this team and how they will blend into specific schemes and lineups. And I can already tell a couple of these guys will slot in perfectly.

The issue with Oladipo starting in that scenario isn’t about a worrisome duo of Robinson and Herro off the bench. The issue is that you’d be replacing the most important part of their offense with that move.

Yes, Robinson may end up averaging the fourth most points among that group this season, but he’s undeniably the most important. If they want to score points, you need the gravity from Robinson to generate rim pressure and the occasional three point bomb.

I also don’t think we should get caught up in “starting lineups” too much. There’s absolutely zero chance Oladipo starts over Robinson at any point this season, but that doesn’t mean Oladipo can’t get more playing time from game to game.

They’re going to be doing a ton of trial and error to find combos that work, but I can comfortably say that Robinson isn’t going to be sitting in a chair when that ball goes up in the air barring he’s healthy.

And I’d bet on there being a clear understanding on Oladipo’s side of things about his role. An ideal bench duo of Dipo/Herro with balancing skill-sets is the formula to competing this season, which relates back to my earlier point about his true wild card status.

If I had to give one predicting element for this team succeeding and one for them tailing off, it definitely requires some thought.

The clear answer for this team potentially not succeeding would be that they added *too* many veterans, and it’s another situation where there’s a revolving door of players. That may be the case with any team, but a constant reliance on inexperienced players may lead to over-playing the main cast, leading to them tailing off late in the season.

If they get the injury bug and end up in a 5-6 seed once again, it’s going to be very tough to see them getting out of that spot.

But on a more positive note, I’d say the most ideal situation for them succeeding is a clear leap from young players. Seeing that development come to fruition from Adebayo, Herro, and Robinson specifically would do wonders.

Adebayo becoming the leader in shot attempts, Herro growing his offensive bag in isolation, and Robinson adding a one-dribble pull-up into a mid-range is my best case scenario.

Of course this is all speculation, but if a couple of those things actually pan out, then this team will be in very good shape this season.


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