News

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Heat's playoff chances

5 Reasons to Feel Good about the Heat’s Playoff Chances

We know — next to — nothing.

Sure, we know when the NBA is planning to return: July 31st in a bubble in Orlando’s Wide World of Sports complex. And we know that they hope all players report a couple of weeks earlier for training camp.

And yes, we know that there are supposed to be eight regular season games for each of the 22 participating teams, including the Miami Heat, prior to a possible play-in for the bottom seeds and then a regular 1-to-8 4-of-7 playoff format divided by conference.

But we don’t know if it will actually…happen.

If Covid-19 concerns, or protests for social equality, or fear of injury will suspend or even cancel the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

But let’s say it goes off as planned.

Here are five reasons to like the Heat’s playoff chances…

(And why you may want to place a wager. Since the game schedule is not yet announced, odds are also not available but if you really want to get on those lines early, SBD’s NBA odds will most likely get updated pretty quickly. Keep in mind that it is automated and can only be updated once sportsbooks have released their odds.)

1. Heat’s Playoff Chances – They’re all in. 

I’ve heard this consistently over the past month, and Bam Adebayo confirmed it on a recent conference call with reporters. Heat players may have particular concerns, from the constraints of the bubble to the distraction from more important issues such as social justice to injuries, as Adebayo is among those seeking a contract extension early. But the overwhelming sentiment from Heat players is that they should play, which is what you would expect from this organization. And, as I was told, “when Jimmy (Butler) tells you to get your ass somewhere, you get it there.” Since this is such a strange circumstance, desire to play and win will be an even bigger factor in results than it usually is. And the Heat want to be there, whereas some other teams may be more conflicted. This group has great team chemistry, and don’t overlook that four members of the team (Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr.) are all free agents after the season, with strongly stated desires to re-sign. They’ll give their best.

2. Heat’s Playoff Chances – They’re healthy.

Miami struggled without Herro and Leonard, especially Leonard, since they were without another big body to support Adebayo while also spacing the floor. They’ve been the two most active Heat players on social media during the break, for different reasons. More importantly, the reports on both health situations have been positive. So this would conceivably make the Heat the healthiest they’ve been all season, since Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson were fairly useless prior to the trade, and then Herro and Leonard weren’t around much after Crowder and Andre Iguodala were acquired. After the lengthy break, not every coach will know what he has to work with, so it should help Erik Spoelstra considerably that he has such a deep bench of options.

3. The playing field’s been leveled.

Yes, the Heat were among the NBA’s top home teams, and that advantage won’t exist, even if Miami secures the fourth seed. But they were starting to struggle there some too. And the road thing? Well, that was ugly. And now everyone is on the road in Orlando. So you don’t have to worry about some of the young guns getting the road playoff yips. And least for the Heat, it’s a short trip, and they’re used to all this humidity and sunshine. Hey, every little bit helps.

4. They have a top tier coach and leader. 

This will matter. A lot. They have someone who has won championships under adverse conditions, and unusual formats — Spoelstra got his first in the lockout shortened season. Which coaches in the East are you taking over him? Mike Budenholzer, Nate McMillan, Brad Stevens and Nick Nurse are all excellent, but only Nurse has won a title. And leader? We did this exercise on the Five on the Floor podcast. Look at the leaders on every team in the East. Who has a better chance to energize and terrorize his guys than Jimmy Butler? Maybe you take Giannis since the Bucks seem to fall in line behind his talent. But no one else. And Butler has newly-40 No. 40 to back him up.

5. Youth and experience.

You need a combo. The youth to get legs back into playing shape quickly. Miami has five core players who are 26 or under. But they also have Butler, who has been through long playoff battles for the Bulls. And they have Dragic, who has been dynamic in odd formats, lifting surprise Slovenia to a European championship.

Heat lineups

5 Most Intriguing Miami Heat Lineups for Postseason

The Miami Heat are one of the most interesting teams heading into the postseason, once the season resumes in Orlando. This is since they have diversity on their roster. And that creates considerable flexibility for Erik Spoelstra, who has been known to tinker with Heat lineups.

There are many lineups we have not seen yet, due to the fact that Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro were injured for much of the time since the key new guys, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala, were brought in.

Well, here’s five of the most intriguing lineups for the postseason.

Heat Lineups: 1. The Defensive Lineup

Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr, and Bam Adebayo

If the Heat need a late game stop, this is probably a go to lineup. All 5 of these guys can guard all five positions, which means they can constantly switch on defense without worry. Of course this lineup may have trouble on the offensive side of the ball without a lot of shooting out there on the court, but this could just be a trial. It’d be great for late game stops or even if Coach Spoelstra is sick of seeing other guys getting torched on defense. This would definitely be an interesting lineup to look for.

Heat Lineups: 2. The Shooting Lineup

Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard

If Miami is trailing in a game, where it seems they can get nothing going on offense, this is the way to go. We’ve seen all 5 of these guys be huge sparks for the Heat’s offense this season at one time or another. Also, they all have one similar trait, if they get hot, they’re hard to stop. The only problem with this lineup will be on the defensive end where Miami’s back-court may run into some trouble. But if the Heat are in a difficult spot, this lineup may be able to claw themselves out of a tough playoff game.

Heat Lineups: 3. The Experienced Lineup

Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard

The playoffs are obviously a different animal, and always seems to impact young and inexperienced guys. So, a lineup filled with playoff experience may not be too bad. All of these guys have played in big playoff games and know what it takes to win. They will most likely have to take the ropes at times since they have to be the examples and leaders of this young Heat team. The experience factor may not be as much of an impact this season since the playoffs will look much different without fans, but we will still probably see this lineup come up in fourth quarters of games.

Heat Lineups: 4. The Young Lineup

Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Derrick Jones Jr, Bam Adebayo

Young and inexperienced lineups like this don’t seem to work well in the playoffs, but if there was any young group that would, it’d be this one. This young group has something that no other one does. The “it” factor. As we’ve seen troughout the season, these guys don’t shy away from big moments, which makes it hard to think they’d fall apart in a big playoff game. The coaches and players all have major confidence in these young guys, but more importantly they are confident in themselves. The heart of these young guys will look to overpower any experienced team that they may face.

Heat Lineups: 5. The Death Lineup

Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Bam Adebayo

It’s great to see lineups with all five guys with the same strength out on the floor, but it seems it’s not always the most successful. A mixture of all four themes listed prior most likely will work best. The Heat’s death lineup can definitely be argued, but it’s hard to debate this one. The overall balance of shooting and defense seems to be quite hard to compete with. And it also contains a mixture of experienced guys along with the offensively gifted youth. If Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson prove that they can compete at a high level in the postseason, this will be a hard lineup to pass up.

Meyers Leonard is Key to a Winning Miami Heat Team

Meyers Leonard accepted his role as soon as he arrived in Miami.

A winning role.

He’s a player that compliments his fellow big, Bam Adebayo, perfectly. He spaces the floor due to his respected three point shooting, which leads to drawing the big man out of the paint for Bam and others. He also can take the defensive assignment of a true big, since Bam seems to thrive when playing perimeter defense due to his quickness.

Meyers played the first 49 games of the season with the Heat, but missed the next 16 due to an ankle injury. After Meyers went out with this injury, the Heat lost 7 of there next 9 games without him. Miami started the season 34-15 with Meyers, but went 7-9 in their last 16.

This is because Meyers is much more than a role player. When people talk about the reasons the Heat were so good this year, his name usually doesn’t come up.

But it should, especially after the Heat struggled to find consistency without him. They rotated several players next to Adebayo, from Derrick Jones Jr. to Jae Crowder to Kelly Olynyk, but none had the physical presence that allowed Adebayo to be his roaming, disruptive best. The difference was also seen during the season series against the rival Philadelphia 76ers — Miami turned that around when Erik Spoelstra chose to give him a second stint in each half, rather than shelving him after one.

He’s also a guy that makes teammates more comfortable on the floor with his willingness to communicate and direct, which is especially important in the postseason.

This is not only because the game slows down in the playoffs, but also with the many young guys in Miami’s rotation. Inexperienced performers such as Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro need their vocal leaders that they can look to in a tough playoff game.

And speaking of the postseason, Meyers definitely doesn’t shy away from big moments himself…

There are definitely many important pieces on this Heat team. But it seems as if one of those irreplaceable pieces — which is least spoke of — is indeed, The Hammer.

And now, after the extended break, he’s healthy. And in a contract year.

So it should be a solid finish.

Heat should seek second round with the Bucks

As it stands right now, the Miami Heat would face the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. As the 4-seed, the Heat find themselves in the same half of the bracket as the Bucks and defending MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. While some may say that’s not ideal, the Heat should seek that second-round match up with Milwaukee.

 

Miami is one of two teams this season (Denver the other) to have multiple wins over the 53-12 Bucks. The Heat were one of three teams to win in Wisconsin, doing so without Jimmy Butler. Then, in Miami, the Heat held Milwaukee to a season-low 89 points en route to snapping a six-game Bucks winning streak.

 

During those contests, the Heat made Antetokounmpo work for every bucket. Coach Erik Spoelstra rotated multiple defenders at Giannis, and the Heat limited him to just 13 points that night in Miami.

 

Leading into a second-round tilt with Milwaukee will afford Spo more than enough time to sharpen those defensive efforts. Miami will have fully integrated Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder by then, giving the team even more options for Antetokounmpo beyond just Bam Adebayo.

 

The Heat would ill-afford slipping to the 6-seed, because that would likely signal a first-round tilt with Boston. The Celtics are 2-0 versus Miami this season, including a convincing 19-point drubbing at TD Garden in early December.

 

The Celtics have length on the perimeter to frustrate Miami’s offensive efforts, and the Heat have always struggled to contain shoot-first point guards, ala Kemba Walker. While the Bucks have the reigning MVP, the rest of their roster lacks the potent punch of someone like Walker.

 

Upsetting Milwaukee in the playoffs could also have a Durant-like effect on Antetokounmpo’s free agency decision come 2021.

 

This is not to say that the Heat would have an easy first-round opponent before facing the Bucks. Although Miami is 2-0 versus the Pacers this season, neither game featured Indiana’s best players: Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon.

 

Miami may also see the 76ers in the first round. The Heat were 3-1 against Philadelphia this year, including a rousing victory 117-116 overtime win in December. Jimmy Butler versus his former team would incite endless intrigue and entertainment, and Adebayo could give Joel Embiid fits.

 

Best case scenario for the Heat is they see an Indiana team that’s still integrating Oladipo and a hobbled Brogdon with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. They’ll be without Jeremy Lamb, too. They’d move on to an upset win over Milwaukee in the second round and face the battered winner of a series between Boston and Philadelphia for a spot in the NBA Finals.

 

Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler vs. NBA’s best duos

The NBA is filled with star powered duos. The league has gotten more and more balanced each year, that even the bottom tier teams have an enticing one-two punch.

A prominent duo is not only based off each player’s personal success, but the camaraderie that the two players have together on the court.

This list is based on the current status of the best duos in today’s NBA, and barring no injuries.

 

15. Karl Anthony Towns and D-Angelo Russell: Minnesota Timberwolves

This one will take a little time, after Russell was acquired for Andrew Wiggins at the deadline. Towns and Russell should have pretty good chemistry established since they rose through the AAU circuit together.

 

14. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray: Denver Nuggets

This duo has progressed each year, with Jokic’s unparalleled passing ability and Murray’s shooting, and there’s room to grow. They led Denver team to a three seed in the West this season, and just need to prove it consistently together in the playoffs.

 

13. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert: Utah Jazz

On the court, this has worked, with Mitchell’s playmaking and scoring and Gobert’s paint-patrolling defense and rebounding. Off the court? Well, that’s been a bit more problematic since Gobert’s actions at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, though some say they’ve patched things up. We’ll see.

 

12. Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry: Toronto Raptors

It might’ve seemed as if Lowry would finally be a first option with DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard elsewhere , but that’s not the case. Siakam emerged as an All-Star, with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Lowry remained steady, at 20 points and 8 assists, and the Raptors kept rolling to a surprising second seed in the East.

 

11. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo: Miami Heat

After Butler was traded to the Heat, who would’ve thought he would find a running mate that could help him lead this Miami team to a four seed in the East? Certainly no one outside of Miami. Not a bad result considering that some said Jimmy came to Miami to retire. While they’ve paired well offensively, their real strength is their defensive passion and versatility, the latter of which is virtually unmatched around the NBA.

 

10. Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker: Boston Celtics 

Walker slid in for Kyrie Irving, Tatum took a leap, and suddenly the Celtics were the third seed. Tatum averaged 24 points and 7 rebounds, and Walker added 21 points and four assists. Walker never played with anyone as good as Tatum in Charlotte.

 

9. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: Philadelphia 76ers

On talent alone, this might be the top duo. But their games don’t really complement each other like some of the others. The collective numbers show that each performs better with the other off the floor, since their lack of spacing together tends to clog the lane. The individual numbers (Embiid with 23 points and 12 boards, and Simmons averaging a near triple double) are outstanding. Time will tell if they can figure it out.

 

8. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis: Dallas Mavericks

Size and offensive skill. Doncic is already elite, and Porzingis was starting to get back to that level after a major knee injury. He’s also shown he’s comfortable being the No. 2 option. But can they defend well enough together to win anything meaningful, coming out of the West?

 

7. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum: Portland Trail Blazers

No backcourt in the NBA can score like this one, outside of a healthy Warriors squad. Defensively? Well, not always ideal. But Portland’s fall this season was due mostly to injuries. Assuming they stick together, they should be contending for a top-4 seed again.

 

6. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton: Milwaukee Bucks

One’s the reigning and likely MVP: 30 points, 14 rebounds, and everything in between. Middleton has always been solid in every area, but he elevated this season, with a 21/6/4 statline, same as Paul George. Can Middleton be counted on when Giannis is crowded in the playoffs?

 

5. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: Golden State Warriors.

They are the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. They just need to get healthy again. Klay Thompson didn’t rely on athleticism, so the ACL injury doesn’t seem insurmountable. Curry should be fine. They’ll be even better if Andrew Wiggins can give them a third threat, and take some pressure off.

 

4. James Harden and Russell Westbrook: Houston Rockets

The most controversial duo? Sure. James Harden is constantly criticized for his ball-pounding style of play and Russell Westbrook has been criticized in the past for only caring about triple-doubles. And they’ve both had down moments in the postseason, especially Harden. The stats, though, can’t be ignored. Harden leads the league in scoring and Westbrook was surging before the shutdown.

 

3. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets

We haven’t seen it yet, but have a sense of how good it could be. First, Durant needs to get healthy, but it appears that’s already happened. Irving needs to show, again, that he can share the ball and the spotlight. But this dueo has the potential to leap to No. 1 if their games connect as expected. They may be unguardable.

 

2. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George: Los Angeles Clippers

The top two-way duo. Only load management has kept them out of the top spot in the West. They can guard every position, score and distribute. George has something to prove in the postseason, but we’ve all seen what Leonard does there. Both in their prime, too. So this isn’t ending anytime soon.

 

 

1. LeBron James and Anthony Davis: Los Angeles Lakers

Rejuvenated by playing with another top-5 player,. LeBron put up 26 points a game along with 8 rebounds and 11 assists. LeBron has stepped aside in some ways for Davis, who can score at all three levels. Can LeBron continue at this pace? Can Davis hold up physically? And will Davis sign long-term? Those are the only questions. These two guys are the scariest duo for any team they go against.

 

Brady Hawk (@MiamiHawk607) is the youngest member of Five Reasons Sports, and the only one who aspires to be a sports agent. Hear him discuss this piece on Five on the Floor. 

Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA

Adam Silver gives update on the immediate future of the NBA

On Friday, National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with media.

Silver discussed various topics, including addressing a potential cutoff date for the season, how many NBA players have tested positive for COVID-19, and whether the NBA has enough information to decide if the season will resume. Our own Ethan Skolnick was on the call, and covered it all.

 

Top HS Prospect Jalen Green Chooses G-League

There has been more and more of the top high school basketball players going overseas as an alternative to college. But the number 1 prospect in the class of 2020, Jalen Green, has changed the landscape with a different option.

The NBA G-League has given many young players an opportunity in the NBA over the years. Now that Jalen Green chose this route, it’ll change the landscape over the next decade for high school players. The NBA is creating a team in Southern California around Jalen Green, which will become most viable option for top prospects.

If a player knows he’s going to go to the NBA, why would you not pick the G-League, where you can focus on basketball 100% of the time, over college. Seems simple. Also, they’ll get paid, which will entice a lot of young players who are eager to get paid and help out their families. Jalen Green will earn $500,000 plus.

This is the same as playing overseas for a year. After somebody chose that route a couple of years ago, there has been more and more players doing it every year. Five players will be drafted in the top 20 in this years draft who played overseas. Could this mean College Basketball will end up third on top player’s choices behind G-League and overseas? Seems so.

Voices

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria