Since signing with the Miami Heat in 2019, Jimmy Butler has been one of the top all-around wings in the NBA. The single flaw to his game has been his regular season jump-shooting, with the three point shooting aspect declining the most. Butler was a career 34% three point shooter before coming to Miami and has been a 24% shooter in the three seasons he has donned a Heat uniform. If Butler can shoot slightly below league average* at around 33-34% from three, lineup construction becomes much simpler for Miami.
* NBA League Average from 3 was 35.4% in the 2021-2022 season.
While Bam Adebayo has statistically improved as a scorer each season and has increased his ability to create his own shot by a sizable margin (39.2% of made FG’s unassisted in 21-22’), his potential for a “scoring leap” was mitigated by his inability to assert himself as an efficient mid-range scorer last season. Adebayo shot 42.4% on mid-range shots in 20-21’ but regressed to a 35.3% mid-range shooter in 21-22’ on lesser per game volume. While many want to see Adebayo stretch his game out to the three point line, it is more important for him to master the mid-range and expand his face-up game from there, asserting himself as one of the league’s most efficient two-level scorers.
The low hanging fruit for Tyler Herro’s development is the ability to handle blitzes in the pick and roll. Yes, that is an important development for Herro in a playoff setting but the most urgent development is Herro increasing his efficiency as a scorer in pick and roll to the point where a Herro and Adebayo pick and roll can be the centerpiece for a good NBA offense. In 20-21’ Herro scored 228 points on 208 shots out of pick and roll, in 21-22’ he maintained similar efficiency but on a sizable increase in volume scoring 401 points on 357 shots. While we can’t project the overall volume of pick and rolls to increase, the goal is for Herro to improve his efficiency from being an above average scorer (61st percentile) in pick and roll to being one of the league’s best (75th percentile or better).
It is no secret that Kyle Lowry’s age will impact his ability to contribute in facets that might’ve been expected upon his arrival to Miami. If last season is any indicator, the ability to drive has started to decline, as Lowry recorded his fewest number of drives per game (7.2) since the NBA started tracking the stat in 2013. Lowry can counteract this decline by reshaping his game into being more of a floor spacer, who functions both as a high volume, high efficiency catch-and-shoot and pull-up threat from three. Lowry’s ability to orchestrate offense parlayed with the ability to keep defenders from helping off of him will amplify the games of Butler, Oladipo, Adebayo, Herro and Yurtseven, who like to operate inside the three point line.
When you play in a starting lineup with Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, it’s likely that you will be hunted in isolation by good teams in a playoff setting. Max Strus took on that test and passed with flying colors in the playoffs. Of the 16 players who defended 25 or more isolations in the playoffs, Strus allowed the 4th fewest points per possession, ranking behind only Draymond Green, Grant Williams and Tobias Harris. Strus also did this on the second highest volume at 44 isolations defended, only behind Al horford, who defended 69 isolations in the playoffs. If these defensive strides from Strus are real, and he is capable of making teams look silly for hijacking their offense simply to hunt him in isolation situations, Strus can be cemented into the Heat’s starting lineup.
After dealing with injury rehabilitation for the majority of the last year and now finally having a full offseason to train, Victor Oladipo’s entire game could look differently upon return but one of the “x-factors” for the Heat’s season will be his ability to generate rim pressure off the dribble. What Oladipo possesses in terms of a first step along with craftiness around the rim is something that has been lacking in Miami for a long time. If Oladipo can assert himself, either as a starter or off the bench, as someone who can get to the rim and make the right decisions while doing so, he will elevate any unit he plays with. Having another player outside of Jimmy Butler who is capable of not only getting into the paint but also finishing at the rim is a crucial development for the Heat’s halfcourt offense. Oladipo or Herro are the most likely bets to make that leap.
Gabe Vincent was one of the few playoff risers for the Heat as his versatility on both ends proved valuable in multiple matchups. Vincent has flashed the ability to create his own buckets at all three levels thus far; however, he now needs to find “his spot” where he can consistently be relied upon to score points. While shooting threes Vincent is primarily a catch-and-shoot threat as role players typically don’t have the freedom of routinely creating a shot that’s inherently inefficient, the pull-up three. While going to the rim, Vincent is generally taking advantage of a slower footed wing or big and being crafty to finish. Being that Vincent can attack closeouts and poses the threat of getting to the rim, pulling up from mid-range is a shot that will be available often for him. After shooting 43% on pull up twos (Regular Season and Playoffs), it’s safe to say Vincent can build upon this skill to further solidify himself as one of the league’s top backup combo guards.
Caleb Martin was probably the single biggest overperformer relative to expectation for the Miami Heat last season. After going from two-way to mid-level exception in less than a calendar year, it’s reasonable to assume that Caleb is not done improving his game. One of his most valuable skills on paper was his 41.3% shooting from three, but the question remains if he can produce similar results as the sample size continues to expand. For a player who is making a career off of “3-and-D” potential, three point shooting is always going to be the ultimate swing factor. If Caleb can prove himself as an efficient floor spacer yet again this season, his contract might be one of the better ones signed this offseason.
Most Miami Heat UDFA projects come into their own in year two of being a part of the program. After seeing flashes in both the NBA Summer League and the “dog days” of the NBA season, Omer Yurtseven has earned the right to be considered to be a part of the Heat’s rotation this season. One way he can seize that spot is by proving he’s capable of anchoring a defense via zone or drop coverage. At 7 feet tall and 275 pounds with a 7’1” wingspan, it is reasonable to say that Yurtseven has the frame to make his presence felt in the paint. With his ability to dominate on the glass and as he is likely to be surrounded by multiple plus defenders off the bench, Yurtseven is in good shape to take a step forward on the defensive end this season.
Duncan Robinson’s value as one of the league’s most respected three point specialists will remain consistent independent of how the shooting percentages fluctuate throughout the season, unless teams change the way they defend him. One thing that we are yet to see from Robinson is the ability to diversify his offensive skill set. Until Robinson is able to consistently feel comfortable attacking closeouts, take and make a mid-range shot or keep a live dribble off of a handoff, Robinson will be subjected to nothing more than the ebbs and flows of being a floor spacer off at the end of the rotation. Any development of the aforementioned skills could make any actions featuring Robinson more fruitful than they have already been.
Haywood Highsmith, like Yurtseven, is entering year two of being in the Heat’s system. With a clear need at the forward spot, Highsmith’s ability to defend multiple positions, rebound despite being undersized and shoot catch-and-shoot threes makes him a contender to earn a spot in the rotation as early as training camp. While PJ Tucker has been a comparison that has been made by some, I believe Highsmith plays more in the mold of a Jae Crowder-type, where volume 3 point shooting from all over the perimeter is his calling card on offense. If Highsmith can shoot at or above league average from three on solid volume, odds are he will find his way into the top 11 for Miami this season.
Dewayne Dedmon likely won’t be counted on much if Yurtseven’s development is going according to plan, but if Dedmon were to be called upon, the hope is that he can continue to hold down the paint defensively and bring the energy on nights where the team might be lacking. The mean streak that Dedmon plays with is one that is a bit more scarce now that PJ Tucker has moved on to Philadelphia.
While he was drafted near the end of the first round, Nikola Jovic has the offensive upside of a lottery level talent with obvious question marks on the defensive end that made him slip to 27. The fix defensively likely won’t happen overnight but if Jovic can display an ability to catch-and-shoot and make quick decisions off the catch, he can find himself on the NBA floor sooner rather than later. If he does see time in the Sioux Falls this season, it would be nice to use that as an opportunity to explore his talents as an on-ball playmaker where he can function as the “big guard” he has labeled himself as. Either way, this season will likely be the equivalent to a redshirt year for the 19-year old where repetitions should take priority over production.
Udonis Haslem is back for a 20th season with the Miami Heat. If this is Haslem’s last season, all we can hope for is that the Heat and their fans give him the proper sendoff at FTX arena.
While he played on the Spurs summer league team, Darius Days was signed to the Miami Heat on a two way contract which surprised most, including the Spurs. While UDFA’s don’t typically produce in their first season with the Heat, it could be very possible that Days could be the rare exception to that rule, given he has prototypical size (6’7 245lbs with a 7’1 wingspan) at a position of need with an offensive skill set that fits next to the Heat’s best players. After being trusted as the primary floor spacing forward for multiple years at LSU, Days could be one good defensive showing in training camp away from having the opportunity to be this season’s Caleb Martin.
While the Heat’s stacked guard rotation makes it unlikely for Marcus Garrett to see NBA minutes this season barring injury, Garrett has proven himself over the last year as someone who could be worth developing. There is no doubt Garrett would be a positive defender in an NBA game if given the opportunity but there are legitimate questions where he fits offensively. If Garrett can find a niche, preferably solidifying his game as a scorer inside the three point line, he could find himself being the prized possession of the Sioux Falls Skyforce this season.
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