Fresh off of a first round sweep, things needed to change for the Miami Heat going into the 2021-2022 season. The additions of Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris, Ömer Yurtseven, Tyler Herro’s leg day routine and others will provide a welcome shake-up for a team that looked tired of playing with each other by the end of last season.
While it is very intriguing to dive into the X’s and O’s of Miami Heat Basketball, no one does it better than 5 Reasons’ very own, Mr. Brady Hawk, so be sure to check out one of his many articles for more insight into what the 2021-2022 Heat season will look like on the court.
As part of a new season-long series, I will be looking into 5 noteworthy numerical trends to see if the “eye test” matches up with the numbers, or if www.nba.com/stats is telling a different story with the Miami Heat. Since there hasn’t been a single minute of basketball played this season, we will be looking into the past to find trends that potentially could paint a picture of the future:
- The 20-21 Miami Heat ranked 1st in PPP (1.25), FG% (62%) and EFG% (65.8%) on PnR plays that ended with the Roll Man.
The downside to this statistic is that PnR Roll Man plays only happened 5.5% of the time (21st in the NBA). In fact, the Heat have finished in the bottom 10 of PnR roll man frequency in each of the last two seasons. Contrary to the Heat, the Kyle Lowry led Toronto Raptors have finished in the top 10 of PnR roll man frequency each of the last 4 seasons.
A huge part of Miami’s roll-man efficiency is Bam Adebayo, who ranks 4th (1.32PPP) on players with 2 or more roll-man possessions a game. In addition to Bam, the Heat have Duncan Robinson (1.59 PPP) and Jimmy Butler (1.50PPP) who rank 2nd and 4th in the entire NBA, albeit on minimal volume. With 3 of the 5 starters being extremely efficient with their rim rolling opportunities, and the new point guard being capable of driving a high volume rim rolling offense, it makes a lot of sense to diversify the offense by adding in screening and cutting to the basket on almost every possession.
The Goal: Maintain top 10 efficiency in PnR Roll ManPPP while increasing frequency to 7%.
- 31.2% : The Heat’s 3 point percentage on Pull-Up 3’s in 20-21’.
The Heat, without any traditional shot creators, predictably struggled on pull-up 3’s in 20-21’ but should be able to come back to the league average of about 34%. The key for the Heat is to leave the Pull-Up shooting to the players who can Pull-Up from distance and shoot, and do it well. This might mean one of our best players: Butler (17% on 42 attempts) will have to be more like Tucker (0 Attempts) when it comes to shooting off the bounce.
Pull-up 3’s are an inefficient shot; however, if that type of shot is funneled through Robinson (37.9% on 151 attempts) or Lowry (37.7% on 175 attempts) it can provide a valuable weapon for the Heat’s offense, especially in a playoff setting where the game slows down and clean “catch and shoot” looks are at a premium.
The Goal: Shoot 34% from Pull-Up 3’s on about 20 attempts a game, as a team.
***Sidenote: Tyler Herro has shot 33% on 2.5 Pull-Up 3 Attempts per game over his first two NBA seasons. If Herro improves this to be slightly above league average then it unlocks a potentially deadly layer to the Heat’s offense
- 34.2% : The percentage of Field Goals made that Bam Adebayo was unassisted on in 20-21’.
Adebayo has improved leaps and bounds every year he’s been in the league, and quite frankly he does everything at an All-NBA level, except get his own bucket. Through 4 years in the NBA, Adebayo’s scoring output has largely been contingent upon those around him, which is not a problem at all for most centers in the league, but Adebayo, who is unlike most centers, has the ability to transform the Heat into a legitimate championship contender if he masters the art of creating for himself. The addition of Lowry will make it easy for Adebayo to up his PPG total to about 20-22 points but that number will ring hollow if Bam can be an afterthought for a team game planning against Miami in the playoffs.
There is evidence of the scoring potential: 41 points vs Brooklyn, 32 points vs Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, a team-leading .91PPP on a team-leading 10.5% frequency in Isolation in 20-21’.
Despite being built differently, Adebayo possesses a very similar offensive skill-set to that of an Anthony Davis, he likely won’t become a primary shot creator but he can play alongside the Heat’s facsimile of Lebron in Jimmy and become someone who dominates the Elbow/Mid-Post/Baseline area with Face-ups that give him options to go into his “bag” against a slower, smaller, or weaker defenders.
The skill-set is evident, now it is time for the mind-set to catch up.
The Goal: Bam gets up to 37.5% unassisted on field goals made.
- 26: The number of starting lineups the Heat used in 20-21’
Injuries are outside of the Heat’s control, but having continuity is going to be key for this group. Only 4 core players from the bubble run remain on this team (Butler, Adebayo, Robinson, and Herro). Having players in the same role night-in and night-out is going to be essential, especially for the less-experienced group of Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Ömer Yurtseven.
Tinkering with the rotation early on is okay, but come the dog days of the season in January, February and March, the Heat must find something that works and stick to it, whether it’s the playoff lineup or not. Take the 19-20’ Heat for example, who rolled out a sub-optimal lineup of Nunn, Robinson, Butler, Adebayo, and Leonard but that continuity led the group to a 28-10 record when those 5 took the opening tip.
There is no reason why a more talented grouping of Lowry, Robinson, Butler, Tucker, Adebayo, five players who coach Spoelstra trusts, should not be the go-to starting lineup as long as they are healthy.
The Goal: 16 or fewer different starting lineups in 21-22’.
- 52: The amount of games that Victor Oladipo has played in since injuring his quadricep tendon on January 23rd, 2019.
While I stated earlier that the Heat’s championship upside lies in Bam Adebayo, that same statement can be applied to Victor Oladipo. Despite struggling with injury over the last few seasons, it sounds like Oladipo truly believes this time will be different. If healthy, the addition of a secondary ball handler, downhill threat, primary POA defender, and passing lane menace will take Miami’s lackluster bench and turn it into one of the stronger units in the league.
The Heat lack what Oladipo brings, and Miami can finally give Oladipo what he needs to get back to playing basketball in the way he believes he can: time.
The main problem is getting Oladipo 100% healthy by the trade deadline. If this problem is solved, one could argue that Oladipo is going to be the most impactful acquisition that any team makes at the deadline.
The Goal: Victor Oladipo returns by the Trade Deadline (Early February) playing how he did last year or better.