How Could Miami Maximize Spacing if DeMar DeRozan was Acquired?

After some in Five Reasons Sports have reported that Miami’s trying to figure out a way to reunite DeMar DeRozan with Kyle Lowry in Miami, it raised a question about the potential fit.

On a team with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the next pieces should be able to stretch the floor a bit to maximize spacing for this group, which is basically where I stood for a long period of time. But when a player of DeRozan’s caliber comes available in Butler’s window, that’s a hard player to pass up, and I honestly believe Erik Spoelstra can make it work.

So, since I’ve discussed individual players so frequently in the past, let’s dive into something a little bit different in this one. How can Miami make that type of unit work on the offensive end with three guys who can’t truly shoot the 3 ball?

One-On-One Frenzy

For starters, DeRozan is no Ben Simmons when it comes to the way that he’s guarded from an offensive standpoint. His overall scoring abilities are so deadly, that teams are forced to play up on him out on the perimeter, which makes things much more interesting.

That means when he’s the ball-handler in certain sets, the only guy to mainly worry about is Butler. Adebayo stationed in the dunker spot or the elbow, Lowry on the wing, and the 4 that will be added in the corner. The reason I gave two options for Adebayo is because it allows them to use Butler loosely.

If they put Adebayo on the elbow as a screener, Butler can be used in the dunker spot in certain possessions to roam the baseline a bit, which actually sounds pretty intriguing with the other creators on the floor.


Back to DeRozan, though, teams will continue to defend him by going under screens constantly. They’re going to press up, but they will duck under inside the arc to cut off any chance at a hard drive.

Looking at the clip above, this is what it would look like essentially. A screen for DeRozan with the defender going under, as he immediately pulls up for the easy mid-range. The secondary options would be a dump-off to Adebayo, which allows him to play-make from mid-court. Above, you can see the wing defender edging over in the “Lowry” spot, which is why a major key to offensive success would be to run things through DeRozan frequently at the top of the key.

He’s an absolute problem in one-on-one situations in isolation, but the question is if there’s enough outside gravity to eliminate constant doubles, which I’ll touch on down the line.

Occupying Post Touches

I truly believe many are thinking about this type of stuff way too generally when talking about “spacing.” DeRozan is a guy that loves to occupy the post with his tough fadeaways and creative moves to get to the basket, which fits well with Miami’s play-style.

Looking at the play above, the point many would argue is that there’s three guys on the perimeter on this possession, which wouldn’t be possible with that Miami lineup. Well, that is wrong.

Help-side defenders on the wing will always duck down to the nail in these situations, no matter if that guy is Lowry or Butler on that right wing. There seems to be this perception that just because Butler stations himself in that area, defenders can just freelance, which is entirely inaccurate.

DeRozan is a guy that can create his own shot on these post touches, but can also play-make over the top of guys with his lengthy build. If a defense was to send an instinctive double in that state of mind, that ball would be relocating to either Adebayo or Butler, which leads to a rotational frenzy with their type of play-making.

Yes, I definitely believe a guy who has the three-ball unlocked makes things much easier in the offense, but twenty-two point per game scorers shouldn’t just be overlooked due to that primary strength. If anybody can make it work, it’s Erik Spoelstra, and as seen above, I don’t believe it will be as complicated as some may think.

The Bam Adebayo Element

To expand on those previous points, I want to give a quick example to the way Adebayo could benefit from this “lack of spacing.” If they give DeRozan these type of isolations on the baseline, there will be a quick double from the top of the key.

Now, he wouldn’t have as much room to operate as he did here, since Adebayo would probably be in the Patty Mills spot, except a few feet forward above the free throw line. The thing about that is DeRozan is very used to that type of play-style by shooting in tight windows in a crowded half-court.

The other way these isos could work is with Lowry above the break, forcing the defense to double from the weakside, meaning a Butler or Adebayo one dribble mid-range pull-up would be a go-to in the offense.

Back to the original point with Adebayo on the elbow, it would look similar to the one above where the defender helps down. That would mean he would have to expand on the leaps he made last year by thriving on the 4 on 3 opportunities. He saw plenty of them in the high pick and roll last year, but this would be much more simple on the short roll.

And if there’s anything I’ve noticed about Adebayo since joining Team USA, he has become a master adjuster in different systems, and that is a point to harp on.

Jimmy Butler Off the Catch

While you got a look at how Adebayo could be used with DeRozan as the ball-handler in certain sets, Butler feels to be the bigger question. But once again, it may be much simpler than many are making it out to be.

Butler has thrived off the catch for some time now, but the Heat’s lack of play-making guards didn’t really put him in those type of positions.

Looking at the play above, this is what many imagine would be the defensive stance when DeRozan is driving and Butler is in a spot-up role in the corner. Naz Reid ducks down to the block, basically daring DeRozan to kick it out.

As Trey Lyles demonstrated here, sprinting toward the basket off the catch is the number one option, and we all know what Butler is capable of on those hard drives.

Finally, it must be stated that this is a very small sample size of plays that I’m highlighting. These guys would be placed into a ton of different spots, but the point is that it can work when DeRozan is the ball-handler around the other primary pieces.

The issue over the last few years has been Miami had the spacing, but lacked options. In this scenario, they would lack spacing, but have options. And the one thing I can say about that is spacing is much easier to find than offensive options.


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