News

Miami Heat close facility due to another positive Covid-19 test

Just two days ago, coach Erik Spoelstra spoke to the media about the excitement of practicing resuming with a nearly full roster prior to the Miami Heat reporting to Orlando for the season re-start on July 9th.

Now the practices will wait until they get to the protective bubble… and once the team self-quarantines.

Already without Derrick Jones Jr. due to a positive Covid-19 test, the Heat learned Thursday that another player had tested positive. That was first reported by Five Reasons Sports Network this afternoon.

It is believed that the player was exposed to an associate who has also tested positive, and is now in quarantine.

But it is 5RSN policy not to reveal the identity of anyone who tests positive.

The team is planning to report to Orlando as scheduled. Jones is expected to participate in Orlando, and there is no reason to believe (yet) that this other player will not.

The Heat open play again on August 1st against the Denver Nuggets.

The Heat are familiar with delicate health situations. Two of the most prominent players in Heat history — Alonzo Mourning, Chris Bosh — had their careers derailed, and in Bosh’s case, finished, by serious and unexpected ailments.

For more information, check this site or @5ReasonsSports on Twitter.

5 Key Moments from Interview with Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk

Since the NBA is set to return later this month, players are getting more and more anxious to get back on the court. Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk spoke with some media today about their preparation for the postseason.

Here’s five things discussed to make you feel better about the Miami Heat’s chances…

1.

Tyler Herro touched on the fact that this locker room is much more than a work place, it’s an enjoyable environment. He says how excited he is to get back on the court and compete again heading into the postseason. Tyler also speaks about his growth in knowledge of the game, which seems to be a trend with a bunch of Heat guys over this hiatus. Which proves how ready this team is for this format.

2. 

Kelly Olynyk says he knows how great he was playing prior to the season being suspended. He also notes that this was because he wasn’t fully recovered at the beginning of the season, but slowly worked his way back into his full self. This is something to note since he could be a valuable piece in a playoff series. This team probably has more depth than anyone entering the bubble. Like Coach Eric Spoelstra said, “We can go 3 deep at every position” which shows he’s going to use every bench piece possible if need be including Kelly Olynyk.

3.

Kelly speaks upon wanting to get back to human interaction, just like everyone else does. Except he has been in a bubble pretty much himself over the last 3 months since his family lives in Canada. This is a good sign for having another guy on the Heat’s roster to keep everyone focused and in line during the social distancing. And like mentioned before, could be a huge factor for this team on and off the court.

4. 

Tyler Herro says he’s looking forward to getting back on the court again finally. He also states he doesn’t know what to expect or what the format will look like but either way they will look to adapt and “win a lot of games.” Tyler is a player that seems to have a lot of confidence in himself as a player already, but his confidence in this Heat team should have all Heat fans ready for Miami to make some noise in the postseason.

5.

Tyler Herro says though the injury forced him to miss 15 games, it helped him dissect the game more. Not only did he watch the way his teammates performed, but says watched all different players around the league. He also states he will do whatever Coach Spoelstra wants him to do once he gets down there. And as discussed many time, will be a key player for this team off of the bench, since young legs may be essential in this format.

 

5 Takeaways from the Duncan Robinson Interview About the Miami Heat

After the breakout season of Duncan Robinson this year, he looks forward to taking the next step in his game which is playoff experience. He discussed some things about his game and the state of the team with some local media today.

Here are five things discussed to take note of…

1. 

As talked about over and over, the Heat seem to have the most players that fit this no fans format. Between overseas, g-league, summer league, and small college play, they should be ready. And though Duncan says he played in games with around 300 people, it was no cakewalk. Duncan has repeatedly said that was some of the most competitive basketball he’s ever played. And as Duncan said himself, he’s equipped for this, which means he’s taking accountability to perform at a high level when or if the season returns.

2.

Duncan seems to have the utmost confidence in this Heat team in a playoff setting with the words, “that bodes well for us.” He talks about the type of games that are played in a playoff series according to people he’s talked to. Duncan says it come down to execution, which is something he has seemed to do pretty well all season.  He also talk about the game slowing down, which may lead to him getting even more touches on the offensive side of the ball with a slowed down setting.

3.

Duncan discusses the different players he has been watching film on lately including Ray Allen and Klay Thompson. He’s not watching the shooting part of it, he’s watching the ways they get open off of the ball. He uses the word creative which was also used earlier in the interview discussing teams trying to eliminate him offensively. Duncan says teams started doing this as the season progressed and he expects it to continue in the playoffs. This could be a huge plus to Duncan’s game if he gets “creative” against savvy defensive match-ups.

4. 

Duncan seems to hear the talk about Miami’s road troubles, but he says the team wants to embrace it. This Heat team thrives on doubt which is usually what people do to them. The reason being that most of these guys have been doubted their whole lives. A bunch of these guys didn’t make it to the league the natural way. So as they continue to receive this doubt, they have the mentality and hunger to prove them all wrong.

5. 

There has been some questioning about the lack of defense in some of the Heat’s young players. Duncan addressed this saying that the only way they can make a deep playoff run is if they improve. He says this is something that will be their main focus on a nightly basis in both the playoffs and eight regular season games.

5 Takeaways about Miami Heat Restart from Erik Spoelstra, Goran Dragic

With the NBA and the Miami Heat set to return on July 30th, Erik Spoelstra and Goran Dragic hopped on a call today to discuss the team’s approach.

Here’s the five most important things discussed…

1.

The depth of this Miami Heat team has been one of the biggest questions come playoff time. We know they’re deep, but the question was if Coach Eric Spoelstra would go this deep into the bench in a playoff game. This seems to answer it with the quote, “We can go 3 deep at every position.” Be ready for some of Miami’s key role players to be huge sparks for the Heat off of the bench.

2.

Jimmy Butler is obviously one of the best leaders to have on your team in a format like this on and off the court. The young guys have somebody to keep them in line and focused off of the court. But also he’s a guy that will be physically and mentally ready for any match-up they face. Coach Spoelstra has the utmost confidence in Jimmy, and Heat fans should too.

3.

Less than a week ago, it was released that Derrick Jones Jr tested positive for the corona virus. The good news is that he is doing fine and still working out with the team over zoom. Also, no other Heat player has tested positive for Covid-19, which hopefully stays that way heading into the bubble.

4. 

Due to the fact that this type of format will be pretty close to a Summer League game, it gives a lot of the Heat’s young players an advantage. It also gives Goran Dragic an advantage since he’s played in these types of games in Europe many times. And as stated above, will help Miami adjust to these types of games very quickly.

5. 

Both Spoelstra and Dragic discussed the changes to be made about the social injustice in the world today. Coach Spoelstra talked about the use of their platform to the best of their abilities. He also states that all of the coaches in the NBA are working with the Obama Foundation on race related initiatives.

 

Forgotten Heat in Miami: Daequan Cook

The house was packed at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona on February 14, 2009, and Daequan Cook was about to show the world that he was a true rising star. The sophomore shooting guard was representing the Miami Heat in the 2009 All-Star Three Point Challenge. He had made it to the final round against the Orlando Magic’s Rashard Lewis and two-time defending shootout champ Jason Kapono, but most of the people in attendance had no idea who Cook was.

Dwyane Wade was in the front row cheering him on, and Shaq had actually picked him to dethrone Kapono, but at best he was known as “that other guy” who played at Ohio State with Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr.

He went last, having to beat out Rashard Lewis’ 15 points (Stephen Curry was probably laughing at that in his dorm at Davidson) and Reggie Miller was having fun at his expense on live TV. “Congratulations, Rashard Lewis…I’m telling you; I know basketball players. This is (Cook’s) first time, I don’t think he can do it,” Miller said as Cook made just one of his first seven shots. But then Cook got hot and proved him wrong, making his last four including the money ball at the buzzer to force a tiebreak that he would go on to dominate, 19-7.

“This was my opportunity to show I could be one of the elite three-point shooters in this game. I came out and I did that.” Cook said at the trophy ceremony, envisioning a long career as Wade’s compadre in Miami. The thing is, that was the high point of an NBA trajectory that never took off. He became one of the “Forgotten Heat”.

An Elite Prospect

Cook came out of high school as a McDonald’s All-American and committed to Ohio State with his AAU buddies Oden and Conley as part of coach Thad Matta’s “Thad Five”, but he was actually the second best of the bunch. Oden was the consensus #1 prospect back in 2006, but Cook was in the Top 15 and actually rated much higher than Conley, who didn’t even crack the Top 20 (Side note: Chase Budinger was sixth, I love that).

Conley would actually make a gigantic leap as a Buckeye, while Cook stagnated and barely averaged 4.8 points in the NCAA Tournament. He rode the bench with two points in nine minutes in the championship game they would eventually lose against Florida. His draft stock plummeted, and many saw him as a second round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Bringing the Heat

Enter Pat Riley. The Godfather was Miami’s head coach and seething after a disappointing 2006-07 season that saw his Heat go 44-38 and get swept in the first round by the Chicago Bulls as defending champions.  Shaq was gone, but so were James Posey and Kapono.

Riley needed a shooter and made a draft-day trade with the Philadelphia 76ers after selecting Jason Smith with the 21st pick to acquire Cook, selected 22nd.

Cook seemed to blend seamlessly into Heat culture and was blossoming in his second year during the 2008-09 season with career highs in games (75), minutes (24.4) and points per game (9.1) while his three-point shooting percentage rose from 33.2% as a rookie to 38.7%. That was the year of his All-Star showcase, and he was a part of an up and coming Heat squad led by rookie head coach Erik Spoelstra and Wade in his prime creating plenty of opportunities for shooters like him.

That was never more evident than in Game 2 of the first round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. Cook was a delight with 20 points in 35 minutes off the bench going 7-for-12 with six threes in 35 minutes. He was the spark Michael Beasley was supposed to be and never was.

However, the following season saw that spark flame out as he averaged 5.0 points in just 45 games, shooting 32% from deep.

Cook would never experience the “Big Three” Era, since he was traded in 2010 to the Oklahoma City Thunder along with the 18th pick of that year’s draft for the 32nd pick.

That 18th pick eventually went to the LA Clippers, who selected current Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe. The Heat went with Dexter Pittman. Good thing two guys called LeBron and Chris arrived in Miami shortly after.

A Steep Descent

Cook would actually play for the Thunder against the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals. Well, played is a strong word.

His scoring total was 0, 0 and 0 in three of the five games. He didn’t take a single shot in two minutes of action in Game 1, a 93-86 Thunder win, and followed that up going 0-for-6 in 23 minutes during a 115-78 Miami romp in Game 4 in South Florida. Meanwhile., Mike Miller was showing him what could have been having the time of his life as Miami’s sharpshooter with seven three pointers in the Game 5 that sealed the series.

Things spiraled even farther from there. Cook went from being an important bench player for a contender to a non-entity in Chicago and Houston in 2013 before being out of the NBA for good after that season.

Cook went on to play in Germany, led the French league in three-point percentage with SPO Rouen Basket and made stops in Portugal and Iran between 2014 and 2017. He was a basketball nomad without a home, wandering the desert aimlessly.

“Yeah, bless his little heart, he grew himself a beard,” Renae Cook said of her son Daequan to the Dayton Daily News. “He looks like one of the Iranians now. He blends in good.”

And then he found his promised land.

Finding Redemption

Cook arrived in Nes Ziona, a tiny town of 50,000 people in the heart of Israel with a team called Ironi Ness Ziona, in 2017. Nes Ziona had three Americans in their roster, including former Villanova guard Corey Fisher. You know, that guy who scored 105 points in a street basketball game back in 2010.

Cook became the fourth American on the team and flourished in the Israeli League, being named an All-Star in 2019.

He is not in his prime anymore, only 33 years old. However, most importantly, he seems to have found a home and happiness once again away from the bright lights of the NBA.

L ‘Chaim, Daequan. You will always have Phoenix.

 

 

 

Another Possible Miami Heat Draft Night Surprise

The 2020 NBA draft will be taking place on October 16th, which will be one of the most interesting drafts in recent history. There is a lot of unknown involved when dealing with scouting and drafting already, but this takes it to a whole other level.

The 2020 draft will be the least scouted draft in the history of the NBA. Players did not have the luxury of playing in March Madness which is one of the many important scouting factors. Draft workouts could end up going virtual as well, which automatically gives scouts less of a feel for these young prospects.

One of the most interesting things to look out for is that teams may not want to deal with it at all, and try and turn it into a 2021 draft pick. Don’t be surprised if some teams make a poor deal just to get the pick out of their possession.

With the Miami Heat, it’s a coin flip on whether they will draft or trade the pick. They’re always going to be open to trading it either to close a big deal or to trade away a bad contract. But with many teams looking to trade away their first round picks, the Heat could make a major trade to secure their perfect prospect, Saddiq Bey.

Saddiq Bey is a 6’8 wing out of Villanova who could’ve been even higher of a pick if he was able to show his talents in the tournament. He’s a textbook 3 and D guy that has shown flashes to be even more than that. He shot 45% from three on 5 attempts per game. Saddiq has a chance not only to be the best shooter in this draft, but also the best defender. He can guard anybody from a 2 to a 4 and shut down some of college basketball’s best scorers including Markus Howard, Devon Dotson, and more. Here’s a look…

If you were to ask a coach of his or even a scout about him, they’d probably start with the word physical. He has that Miami Heat grit to him with not only his physicality, but his high energy. He plays with the same type of energy that Bam Adebayo played with in college. And the most interesting connection to the Miami Heat is his very similar play style to Jae Crowder. The toughness, the scrappiness, the 3 and D role. And with Jae Crowder’s contract up this offseason, he could be the perfect replacement to not only fill his role, but also save the Heat money. The only question is, do they have enough tradable assets to secure a top pick.

Though it may be a long shot for the Heat to trade up like this in the draft, if there was ever a time to do it, it’d be this year. The Heat haven’t took the traditional pick in their last two lottery pick selections, and those two players ended up being Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.

So don’t be surprised if the Miami Heat shock Heat fans in an even different way on draft night this year.

5 Changes Miami Heat Players Must Make

Five, so the Miami Heat stay alive for a while, after the NBA season resumes in Orlando on June 30:

 

  1. Jimmy Butler gets his jump shot back 

Jimmy Butler is the pulse of the Miami Heat team. His defensive tenacity and fearless  motor has greatly helped Miami to its 41-24 record. On offense, Butler relies on getting  into the paint where he can body defenders and draw contact in the lane. Butler is  currently shooting 83% from the free throw line at 9.1 attempts per game.

Jimmy sacrifices his body a lot during the game to get to the line, especially when Miami is in a  scoring drought. Although Butler is averaging 20.2 points per game his shooting percentages have suffered. He is currently shooting 24.8% from the three and 33.2% from 10 feet out to the three point line.

However, with the newly acquired additions of  Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala to take some of the defensive burden off of Butler, we might see a more efficient shooter in Jimmy. It appeared that his shot suffered when he was forced to play major minutes or take on too much of a burden. In addition to initiating the offense Butler was usually seen guarding the best perimeter player on the other team.

Hopefully with the unprecedented Covid-19 break, Butler’s legs got some rejuvenation. If a fresh Butler can improve his jump shot, he might save himself from getting injured, his drive will be more effective, offensive spacing will improve, and he can become a more impactful, energetic player at the end of games. Keeping Jimmy, who is Miami’s closer, fresh during crunch time is key to Miami’s playoff chances.

 

  1. Bam Adebayo becomes more aggressive on offense 

Bam is a top candidate in the Most Improved Player race. This year he played his way to becoming a first time all star and his game is now known in and around the NBA. He is growing his resume game after game, whether that is dishing out 10 assists, grabbing 15 rebounds, or holding Giannis Antetokounmpo to a season low 13 points in a game.

Bam has become a larger threat every game in all aspects. Yet, if Bam can take some confidence he gains on defense to use when he has the ball, it can unleash a whole new Bam. If defenders have to come out to the perimeter to guard Bam because he can knock down a mid range jumper without hesitation, it will also open the court up more for his passing and it brings the big man out of the paint. This will further space the floor and open the offense for the rest of the Heat’s shooters and playmakers.

 

  1. Duncan Robinson stops getting in foul trouble

Robinson is definitely one of the best surprises of the 2019-2020 season. After a rocky preseason performance, Robinson came out hot and actually never cooled down. Robinson shot a scorching 44.8% from the three with 3.7 makes per game on 8.4 attempts. Robinson is a huge threat on offense and a valuable weapon for the Heat.

With his ability to catch fire and stay on fire, it forces defenses to closely guard him and sometimes even deny him the ball. In turn, this spreads the court for other players to drive to the basket and get open shots. However, Duncan gets targeted on defense frequently and gets into foul trouble. Opposing players take him to the basket because first they know he’s a vulnerable defender, and secondly, to get him out of the game. For some reason, referees tend to call very close touch fouls on Robinson which gets him quickly into foul trouble. When he stays on the court and gets minutes, he performs at a higher level. If Robinson can avoid getting into foul trouble, Erik Spoelstra will always have his shooter available at crunch time.

 

  1. Tyler Herro improves defensively 

Everyone is aware of Tyler Herro’s scoring ability. As a rookie, Herro is torching opposing players with pick and roll reads, catch and shoot threes, and stepback jumpers.

But on defense, he often defends like a rookie. In playoff games there is significantly less room for defensive breakdowns and mistakes in general. If Herro can keep his player in front of him, this will help Bam and Meyers Leonard stay out of foul trouble by having to help from the weak side. If Herro can gain Spolestra’s defensive trust, it will greatly improve the Heat’s rotation options for the playoffs.

 

  1. Kendrick Nunn emphasizes his playmaking 

The Miami Heat unfortunately don’t have a true point guard, unless you count Goran Dragic as one. With Kendrick Nunn as the starting point guard he had a lot of ball handling responsibilities. This year we have seen Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo take over much of that burden.

Nunn has been an excellent scorer. However, he has gone through some cold spells where it’s hard to keep him on the court because he is simply shooting the Heat out of the game. If Nunn can become more of a playmaking guard, it will fill a big void for the Heat. This will also give Dragic, Bam, and Jimmy a break from ball handling duties and save them for the end of games. Getting more players involved on offense makes for a more efficient and dangerous team because defenses can’t focus on one player. Contending teams always have a complete roster with valuable role players.

 

5 Toughest Games for Miami Heat on Updated Schedule

The new schedule is out….

And it’s no picnic.

All but one of the eight opponents is a playoff team, since many of what were supposed to be the Heat’s remaining games got wiped off the slate when those teams are not invited to Orlando.

Here they are, the top 5 toughest….

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Miami Heat will be playing the Oklahoma City Thunder on August 12th in the NBA’s resumed season. The Heat got the win against the Thunder in late January, but it wasn’t easy. They are sometimes referred to as the Heat of the west, since both teams were overlooked and a surprise to the league. Oklahoma City has the perfect blend of veterans and young players behind their leadership in Chris Paul and talented youth in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Their a tough match-up for the Heat because of the guard depth on the team. Miami’s weakness is not having a good defensive back-court. This will be a gritty and tough match-up for the Heat since they always seem to give it their all on the floor.

4. Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets got the win at the beginning of the season against Miami. It was one of the worst games for the Heat this season and was definitely one of Bam Adebayo’s worst games as well. Nikola Jokic is a player that seems to give trouble to almost anybody he faces, especially with his ability to stretch the floor. The depth of this team is something that not only could give the Heat major trouble, but also for whoever they face in the playoffs. They now have some experience under the belts, which may not be a big deal for the way these playoffs will be presented. Either way, the Miami Heat will have their hands full on the defensive side of the ball with the talented players that are on this roster.

3. Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors will be the second game of Miami’s updated schedule and will definitely be a good one. Toronto is another one of those teams that were a surprise this season after the departure of their star Kawhi Leonard. The Heat played the Toronto Raptors twice this season and came away with the win in both. This doesn’t mean to take this team lightly. They have fire power across the whole roster and seem to give Miami trouble on the defensive side of the ball. When Miami played Toronto in early January, the leading scorer for the Heat was Bam Adebayo with 15 points. That could be a problem. On the other side of things, Bam Adebayo seemed to be the perfect player to stop Toronto’s star Paschal Siakam. They match-up pretty well, which makes for a tough regular season game heading into the playoffs.

2. Boston Celtics

The Heat will be playing the Boston Celtics on a back to back after the game against Toronto, which seems to always be the case. These games will be played on August 3rd and August 4th, and interesting enough the Heat played Toronto on December 3rd and Boston on December 4th this season. Just like in that instance, the Raptors give the Heat a tough game and leave them exhausted for a young Boston Celtics team. The Celtics beat the Heat in both games they played this season. But one thing should be noted, Jimmy Butler does not like losing. The idea of losing to this team three times in one season will not sit well with him. Be ready for an absolute display by Heat’s star Jimmy Butler on August 4th.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

And finally, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s always a tough assignment to slow down a leading MVP candidate and only one guy seemed to do it this season. Bam Adebayo. The Miami Heat seemed to play exceptionally well on both sides of the floor against this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This is because the way to stop this team is to make everyone other than Giannis beat you. Which is what they did. Once Bam fully locked up Giannis, they then looked to Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, who did not seem comfortable in those situations. If the Heat could mirror the way they played earlier in the season, they’ll have a chance to take down the Bucks and try and secure a top 4 seed.

5 Most Interesting Miami Heat Player Stats for this Season

The Miami Heat have had their ups and downs throughout this shortened season. They started out the season hot, but took a bit of a dive post-all star break after some unfortunate injuries.

They played great against the top teams including Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia, and more. But they also struggled against many bottom tier teams which seemed to be their downfall. Playing down to their competition is the best way to explain it.

They also had a major trade before the trade deadline that added two veteran talents in Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. This definitely takes some time to find the right chemistry and camaraderie both on and off the floor.

Through all of this, they managed to reach the four seed in the East with a 41-24 record. Well, these are some of the stats that may have lead to this winning record.

1. The Miami Heat were 28-12 when Bam Adebayo scored 15 or more.

It’s been said over and over throughout the season, Bam needs to trust himself as much as his teammates and fans do. He has proven he can score above the rim, in the paint, and has even showed flashes of a mid-range. But at the end of the day, he’s a born play-maker. He’s a point guard in a centers body with his passing and court vision skills, which is why he feels much more comfortable with that part of his game than with a jump-shot. But in many instances, we need Bam to be the aggressive offensive player that we all know he can be. When Bam scores 15 points or more, they have a 70% win percentage, which shows his offensive game is second to none.

2. Miami is 13-3 when Tyler Herro hits 3 or more threes.

Tyler Herro was drafted first and foremost for his outstanding shooting abilities, but the question was how long it take for him to translate his game to the NBA. That didn’t take long after he put on a shooting display in both Summer League and preseason. He’s also one of those players that once he gets going, he’s hard to stop. This is because of the confidence that he has every time he steps out on the floor. Once he hits 3 triples in a game, the opposing teams defense changes to make sure they double team and close out when he has the ball. This opens up the offense to others to attack the basket which then translates to many good team wins.

3. When Jimmy Butler distributes 6 or more assists, the Heat are 24-9.

It’s pretty clear that Jimmy Butler is the heart and soul of this Miami Heat team. He proved his leadership in Miami that was deemed cockiness and arrogance in his last few teams. The difference is that the Heat guys get it. They want to win just as bad as Jimmy does, which leads to Jimmy’s belief in his teammates. He has shown time and time again that his first offensive option is to get his teammates involved as much as he can. This obviously translates to wins since the Heat have a 73% win percentage when Butler plays as the outstanding play-maker that he is.

4. The Heat are 34-15 when Meyers Leonard starts.

It seems as if Meyers Leonard doesn’t get the credit that he should for this Heat team’s success. He has proven to be one of the team’s most important leaders for his voice on and off of the court. And as said before, his ability to stretch the floor against other bigs, gives Bam the spacing he needs to attack the rim. He also helps Bam with big defensive assignments since Bam thrives on perimeter defense. Meyers Leonard is the perfect fit for this team and continues to showcase his winning mentality that he’s had his whole career.

5. Miami is 14-3 when Duncan Robinson shots over 60% from three. 

Duncan Robinson is one of the best three point shooters in the NBA and is number 5 in three point percentage. He seems to shoot the three ball at a high clip almost every night, but when he’s hitting 60% of his threes, the team is far from easy to contain. Especially with the off ball movement that Duncan displays seems to tire out defenses much faster. It’s pretty hard to be shooting the percentage that Duncan does since he’s shooting about 8 threes a game. The Heat will need him to uphold this three point dominance, since it seems to be pretty effective with winning Miami Heat basketball.

Justise Winslow

5 Reasons the Justise Winslow Trade Works

In February, the Miami Heat made a major move in trading Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson as part of a three-team deal. Miami managed to flip three players who were not contributing for players who provided production immediately. But was it the right move to make?

In the wake of the trade, a Heat Nation civil war ensued between the “Bustise Winslow” and “Justise Better” camps. And while it’s difficult to see a 24-year-old former lottery pick leave for past-their-prime veterans, Winslow’s lack of production hampered the team’s ability to move forward. He may find new life in Memphis, but it seemed like he’d never breakthrough with the Heat.

So here are five reasons why trading Justise Winslow works for the Miami Heat.

1 – Justise Winslow’s Availability

As a rookie, Justise Winslow played 78 games for the Heat. That remains the high-water mark for Winslow during his five-year career. By a wide margin. He missed well over 100 games while with Miami, including the bulk of two of his five seasons.

This year, real questions clouded Winslow’s desire to play. Although plagued by back issues, it’s been said that Winslow and the Heat could not agree on treatment or a timetable for return. This friction with the organization greased the wheels of a potential deal despite Winslow’s youth and potential.

The uncertainty of Winslow’s availability was replaced by a pair of players who’ve produced. Jae Crowder saw the floor in 13 of Miami’s 15 games after his February 6th acquisition. He’s posted 11.9 points-per-game and netted over 39 percent of his three-point attempts. Winslow’s career-high PPG is 12.3 and he’s never made threes at that high of a clip.

Andre Iguodala headlined the deal for Miami. Iggy played 14 of the 15 games after the trade, sitting out just the first one (like Crowder). He’s provided defensive flexibility and his 37 percent clip from three has kept opposing teams accountable.

Miami managed to unload three players in Winslow, Waiters and Johnson that were not producing at any meaningful level during the playoff push. They swapped them out for three players (Crowder, Iguodala and Solomon Hill) who could.

2 – Cap Flexibility

While the COVID-19 crisis has cast uncertainty on the league’s finances, Miami making this move in February seemed financially motivated. By flipping Winslow, Waiters and Johnson, the Heat freed up cap space for not only the coming offseason, but also the following one, when Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo could be available.

Winslow was set to make $26 million over the next two seasons, though the team held the contract’s option for 2021-22. Johnson had $16 million coming his way, and Waiters waited on another $12 million for 2020-21.

Moving off of those contracts saved Miami nearly $55 million in total and more than $40 million for this offseason. The Heat have a number of internal free agent options, including Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr. and Crowder. This deal could give Miami the means to bring all four contributors back. They could also look to add other players like Davis Bertans, Danilo Gallinari, or maybe even Serge Ibaka or Paul Millsap.

Yes, the team inked a $30 million extension with Iguodala as part of the trade. But the $15 million owed to Iggy for 2021-22 is a team option. In addition, the Warriors hold a $17.2 million trade exception that could see Miami create even more cap space if he’s traded back to Golden State.

3 – 3 & D Upgrade over Justise Winslow

While Justise Winslow may have wanted to be a point guard, the most obvious role for him to fill with this Heat team was as a 3-and-D wing. Winslow’s strength is on defense. He flashed that ability as a rookie, switching to defend multiple positions during Miami’s playoff run that year.

Offensively, Winslow’s most glaring weakness seemed to be his distance shooting. (Although finishing around the rim was also an issue.) While he’s improved from three, Winslow wasn’t a threat to opposing defenses standing beyond the arc.

This season, both Crowder (.318) and Iguodala (.375) have netted three-point attempts at a higher clip than Winslow (.222). With the Heat, Crowder has hit 39 percent from three.

Crowder sports a higher Defensive Win Shares figure (2.0), with Iguodala and Winslow tied at 0.4. In Defensive Box Plus/Minus, Iguodala leads (1.9), followed by Crowder (0.3) then Winslow (minus-0.1).

Crowder and Iguodala both provide Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra with switchable wing defenders who can play both on the perimeter and on the inside.

4 – Veteran Leadership

Iguodala is a 16-year veteran, Finals MVP and three-time champ. He’s an intelligent and articulate player who upgrades Miami’s basketball IQ. He’s played nearly 150 playoff games and has made four Finals appearances. This experience is something Winslow couldn’t provide.

Crowder’s resume isn’t nearly as decorated, but he is playoff-tested. A seven-year veteran, Crowder has played in more than 50 playoff games and made 30 starts. He helped defend LeBron James for Boston in the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. He averages over 10 points-per-game and 32 percent on threes in the playoffs.

In just his fifth NBA season, Winslow has played 18 playoff games. The bulk of those (13) came in his rookie season. And his unwillingness to return to play for the Heat this season casts a disparaging mark on his resume as a leader.

5 – Offensive Clarity

The allure of a Jimmy Butler-Justise Winslow defensive pairing enticed everyone. Their brief snippets of play, with Bam Adebayo behind them, left Heat fans wanting more. But, as great as those defensive sequences were, on the other end of the floor, things were clunky.

Winslow held a well-known desire to be a point guard. He wanted the ball in his hands and flashed some ability as an offensive facilitator at times in his career. In the open court, he moved well and attacked, though finishing was an issue. But in the half court, the offense could stall with him at the helm, especially if Winslow wasn’t making his jumpers.

Butler will be the primary ball handler for Miami in this NBA restart. Kendrick Nunn should stand as the secondary option, with Dragic taking that role off the bench. Much of the half-court offense will be fed through Adebayo on the elbow, leaving Crowder and Duncan Robinson to man corners and wings.

Dealing Justise Winslow afforded Miami with a simplified offensive setup. Each rotation player now has a set role, both on the defensive end and offensively. The ball will be with Butler, Adebayo, Dragic and Nunn for the majority of the game. Winslow would’ve muddied those waters on offense and flipping him for Crowder and Iguodala keeps things clear.