As we get closer and closer to the start of the new NBA season, it’s no longer about evaluating the team’s potential moves or next steps in terms of organizational decision making. Now, it’s about projecting forward onto the season how specific players, or the team as a whole, will produce on the floor together.
Instead of continuing my series on the different offensive sets and actions I think Miami will be using next season, we’re coming back to answering your guys’ questions about this new roster.
So, let’s hop right into it…
How much of an upgrade is Lowry over Goran?
— Alex (@Tater_j0e) August 31, 2021
It’s important to begin this answer by making something clear: Goran Dragic has been absolutely huge for this team in recent years, which is an obvious statement.
But at this point in Kyle Lowry and Dragic’s career, there isn’t one major attribute that Dragic does better than Lowry. So that pretty much sums up the positional upgrade from Dragic to Lowry.
Lowry is a better passer, shooter, defender, and this list can grow longer and longer. And that’s nothing against the skill-set of Dragic, but I feel the aging game of Lowry’s fits the mold of this Heat team much more. Someone who can get a bucket at all three levels whenever it’s necessary, gets Bam Adebayo in comfort spots, and changes the direction of their defensive status.
Even if you were to make an irrational statement and call the scoring comparisons a wash, the defensive end is the major upgrade. This team doesn’t want to have a bunch of weak defenders in their back-court in every possible lineup, which was a focus in roster construction this off-season.
It should go without saying, but Lowry is a huge upgrade over Dragic, especially come playoff time when things slow down.
Marcus garret potential ceiling (a brutally honest take)
— Junior Bazile (@RetroJ1026) August 31, 2021
Whenever I’m asked about the potential “ceiling” of players, I never want to go too extreme. Of course you’re projecting the best final product of a specific player, but it should be slightly realistic in that same sense.
To that point, Marcus Garrett’s ceiling is a very valuable 3 and D guard. When looking at KZ Okpala for example, that would be ideal to have that type of label in the near future, but up to this point, nothing has shown me that’s somewhat possible.
Garrett, on the other hand, has shown some minor flashes in limited amount of Summer League minutes. There’s no doubt in my mind he will be a lock-down defender at the next level, due to the fact he doesn’t have one single weakness on that side of the floor.
Active hands, quick feet, on-ball control, off-ball predictability. It’s not normal to have that within a skill-set this soon, but well, Garrett has shown that he has all that and more. And by the way, that means Miami should be locking in on securing him on a two-way contract as soon as possible.
But as I said before, his ceiling would be a sufficient spot-up shooter on offense. He can finish at the rim but I can’t see him getting down there often. He has a smooth mid-range jumper when he’s in space, but shot creating puts some things in question.
It all comes down to the development in the outside shot, and in a Heat system, I’m confident that he will obtain that quickly.
Can Bam be an X-factor in how far this team goes this year? Also who else can be an X-factor as well.
— alex page (@unkstreetz) August 31, 2021
I think most people will agree that this Heat team will go as far as Bam Adebayo takes them. It’s not about pure domination offensively. It’s not about playing outside of his comfort zone. It’s just about believing in his own game to take the shots that are being given to him.
A lot of the Heat’s premier players will be around the same amount of shot attempts per game this regular season. But if he ends up being the team’s leader in shot attempts this year, I’m 100% confident saying this team is a 3 seed.
And well, that pretty much answers the fact that Adebayo is the true X-factor.
Now, in terms of who else can be an x-factor this season, it’s more about a specific position than a specific player. And that is corner spacing.
As I’ve noted while diving into Miami’s offensive scheme, the scoring production will heavily ride on the amount of pull their corner shooters have on a defense in the Heat’s base sets. Can PJ Tucker force enough reluctancy to eliminate constant lane close-offs? Can Markieff Morris take a shooting efficiency leap?
That’s the true x-factor. That will be the difference between Miami winning a playoff series and not even being competitive in one.
What's a wrinkle that you personally think the Heat should try to add to their offense?
— Ben Tovia (@KarmicBead7193) August 31, 2021
This may be a bit of an odd answer, but it is something I want to see more of: Bam PnR ball-handling.
We saw more of it with Duncan Robinson pushing his own defender into a screen for open lanes which worked perfectly, but there should be an expansion of that. Of course the addition of a true point guard may not make you think that, but it may be even better for Lowry and crew.
For one, continuing to see Robinson’s screening develop will be huge. When he slips screens and utilizes ghost screens, good things happen. You’re taking a chance on a possible defensive miscommunication, sending two out on Robinson, due to that continually being the main focus when he shifts out.
But what if we saw this stuff without Robinson?
This would be the Omer Yurtseven effect essentially. If Miami could end up running some 4-5 pick and pop with Adebayo having the ball in his hands, why not try it out?
Up to this point, the focus has always been about getting Adebayo to flow downhill in anyway possible. Pocket pass receptions out of high PnR, elbow touches, or the occasional lob pass.
But him gaining the confidence to take guys off the dribble in space to get to the cup would be huge for this team. And as Jimmy Butler said when I asked him about Adebayo doing this, “He’s damn near unguardable whenever he’s playing like that.”
Statistically where do you see the team improving and declining after the additions this off season? Maybe 2 of each if possible
— Jeffrey Arce (@CoachArce) August 31, 2021
I think this can be answered in a couple different ways, depending on if you’re evaluating it on paper or projecting forward, but there are some mutual points for both.
On paper, it’s pretty easy to say that the team will decline in bench scoring. Losing Dragic as a back-up point guard and replacing him with Gabe Vincent means you’re heavily relying on an offensive jump from Vincent. Tyler Herro will also be looked to as a much bigger option in their offense whenever he’s on the floor with the bench unit.
Obviously keeping Dewayne Dedmon means no drop-off and Markieff Morris can produce at a similar offensive level as Andre Iguodala with higher upside, but the back-up back-court will be something to watch. Can Herro make that offensive leap? That is what shifts them from declining to improving.
Another quick offensive decline that I see happening is less mid-range shots. That may sound a bit odd, but losing Dragic and Kendrick Nunn means a lot of that will fade-away. The hope is Adebayo takes more in that area and Herro continues to get there comfortably, but I feel this team will be a very heavy paint and perimeter team.
Now, in terms of the team’s improvements, I think we can start with offensive clarity and flow. Some may think the addition of Lowry in the offense is being overstated at times, but the difference in flow will be noticed from the jump.
You don’t have to rely on Adebayo and Jimmy Butler triggering actions each and every possession. Of course they will still be their play-making selves, but it’s a weight off their shoulders. That’s the offensive clarity that will be improved upon.
And the other statistic improvement that will be made this season for Miami is three-point shooting in my opinion. Last season, the Heat were 14th in three-point makes, 11th in three-point attempts, and 19th in three-point percentage.
If I’m projecting forward on this topic, I think they’re in the top 10 of at least two of those categories. And that’s a pretty big improvement.
Do you see Yurt getting playing time during the backend of the regular season?
— Daniel Mousso (@DmoneyMoose) August 31, 2021
As I’ve said before, Omer Yurtseven’s role won’t just be getting spot minutes at the end of the season. He’s going to get plenty of opportunities from different spots right out the gate.
One of the main reasons for that is due to the fact I just don’t see Dewayne Dedmon playing 82 games of the regular season. Why was he the best player for Miami in that first round playoff series against the Bucks? Well, he had fresh legs following a 16 game regular season slate.
So that’s one way Yurtseven will absolutely be utilized this season, plugging in as the back-up big whenever he’s needed.
Now, the other way he will be used is just a Miami Heat formula. When a starter like PJ Tucker goes out for 1-2 games, it’s never the back-up 4 that trots into the starting lineup. It’s always the Gabe Vincent on a two-way contract who gets plugged in out of nowhere so it doesn’t mess up the rotation completly.
That’s the Yurtseven role.
No, he won’t be in the normal rotation, but he will get some starts throughout the season. And he’ll get plenty of the necessary NBA level reps to continue to develop.
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