Tag Archive for: Victor Oladipo

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Thunder

The Heat walked into this game against OKC without 4 starters in Lowry, Herro, Adebayo, and Martin.

The margin for error was slim, but Jimmy Butler was willing them offensively to a reasonable point. Then closes it off with the game winning bucket.

Some takeaways…

#1: The Dewayne Dedmon situation…

I’ve sat here in many post-game pieces discussing “Dewayne Dedmon situations. But well, I’d say this one was a bit different. Let me start at the necessary point: the Heat were getting absolutely cooked in the 2-3 zone after he entered. The Thunder’s offense was as simple as sending a free-lancer baseline every play, as Dedmon and the guy on the box turned to each other in confusion. Sitting a few rows up watching, I wasn’t as confused, the problem was evident. Shortly after, Erik Spoelstra and Dedmon got into a heated discussion on the Heat bench before he stormed off toward the locker room. On his way, a flying massage gun hit the court. Dedmon punched it off the table in anger, leading to an ejection. On-court problems bleeding into…

#2: Jimmy Butler’s game-plan was evident pregame, and he executed immediately.

As I put my PrizePicks slate on Twitter before the game, there was one pick I mentioned made too much sense: Jimmy Butler’s free throws. Set at 6.5, he ended up with 14 in the first half alone. This wasn’t just a coincidence, it made too much sense heading into this setting without much of the roster. Butler was going to just attack the weak-spots of this Thunder defense, and he did that time and time again. Getting defenders up in the air and throwing himself into them at the rim. And let’s be honest, the ending to that last Heat game with the non-call made this even more likely that he would get a decently friendly whistle. He showed some early activity defensively, and got to the line a bunch: the two elements of a locked in Butler. When the threes start flying, you know it’s a laid back version. But this really kick-started the offense.

#3: Max Strus’ early rim attempts lead him right back to his game.

As we talk game-plans early in this game, Max Strus was the other guy with a clear focus tonight. Yes, he’s the shooter on this team, but the lack of creators meant he would have to shift the defense just enough to allow him decent looks. That shift came in the form of rim attempts to begin the game. Not the usual forced pick and rolls either. They were more timed pump-fakes and attacks to get into his favorite crossing scoop lay-up. Once that connected and got to the line, he was perfectly setting himself up. Now he began letting Butler and Oladipo do all the work, flooding in the catch and shoot stuff shortly after. Many players were given individual benchmarks to hit tonight, and that was Strus’.

#4: The offense wasn’t pretty.

As much as I talk about some of the Heat’s individual performances tonight, it should be noted the offensive structure wasn’t pretty. Why would it be? Missing three of your primary initiators is never a good blueprint, meaning more guys having to do more things. (Including more screening for wing players, leading to the offensive foul surge) But as for Victor Oladipo, his offensive layout almost always felt like a bail-out bucket. He came up big at times in the first half one all else failed, leading into tough buckets at all three levels. Butler having 20 free throws through 3 quarters is also a good representation of the offense not being “pretty.” As I said before, the moving screens was a momentum killer for a large stretch of that third quarter, and we saw the whistle really slip sides for giant chunks of time. After Dedmon’s ejection, Orlando Robinson was the sole big available and he was having foul trouble. Cain/Highsmith at the five, yeah, there were offensive limitations.

#5: The fourth…

Eight minutes to go, down 5, the offense is slipping, and Erik Spoelstra struts down the bench to tell Butler to walk to the scorers table to enter. Simultaneously, Oladipo throws an awful pass for a turnover, then absolutely hunts it down for the cleanest steal. Clear path foul. Two free throws and a giant and-1 triple from Gabe Vincent later, the Heat were up 1. The Heat answered shortly after with an inbound to Butler for the dunk, as the run was cemented by an Oladipo attack and kick-out to Jamal Cain in the corner for three. Heat up 4. The Thunder answered with a run of their own due to the Heat becoming stagnant offensively for a short stretch. Back at a tie game. A Shai Gilgeous Alexander step back triple put Miami right back on the ropes, as the search for offense wasn’t looking too clean. As the Heat trailed by 5, they finally got a stop with 50 seconds left, playing into the open floor. Oladipo steps comfortably into a transition triple and nails it. 2 point game. The Thunder got a quick whistle on a turnaround that Spoelstra immediately challenged, which ended up being unsuccessful. He goes 0 for 2, the ball is loose, Oladipo swipes it and goes. Butler gets it in the low post, and-1. Ball game.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Suns

The Miami Heat wrapped up the 5 game road trip in Phoenix on Friday night, improving to 3-2 on the trip.

When looking at it from that perspective, that’s a good trip.

Victor Oladipo and Bam Adebayo lead the way tonight, so here are some takeaways….

#1: No Tyler Herro means an altered offensive focus for Heat.

As Tyler Herro was an active scratch with back spasms, it means you have to make a pretty decent sized adjustment to your offensive gameplan. Not only is he high usage, but he’s a primary offensive trigger. With his absence, it basically meant Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would be the only two half-court hubs for the offense. We saw them get it to Bam in those spots early, which I will discuss next, but Butler was doing the same off low post cross screens into mismatch hunting on any of the Suns smaller guards. That game-plan seems rather simple, but the bigger point that I mentioned to begin this game: this team couldn’t afford to play a second without at least one of them on the floor. Not only are they primary hubs, they’re the only hubs.

#2: Bam Adebayo making it look easy, because it’s gotten so simple.

As much as I discuss the Heat’s gameplan in the half-court to begin this game, it really wasn’t complex when it came to Bam Adebayo. He was being fed early in this game, going 6 of 9 from the field in the first half. It began at the elbow, as a set like Horns would be run, which ultimately flowed into Bam turning into face-up position before going to work. That free throw/dotted line jumper just continues to feel like money every time it leaves his hand with some rhythm. Seeing the Heat run isos for Bam consistently says a lot about where he is as a scorer. The other point to make about his early disposition aside from face-ups, included a heavy dosage of short roll stuff. It’s honestly tougher without Herro since he feeds him so often in that pocket, but he was still able to do some damage there too. It looks easy for him, but that’s because his options have been simplified.

#3: Dewayne Dedmon minutes again.

Before this game, Erik Spoelstra made some comments that seemed to hint at the team going in the Orlando Robinson direction for a stretch with Dewayne Dedmon continuing to recover, and that theory lasted a total of 42 seconds. Dedmon got the backup big spot yet again tonight, but it should also be noted that this role is as limited at it possibly can be. The Heat went to an 8 man rotation in this one, as Dedmon only played 6 minutes in the first half. Now I won’t act like those aren’t a *long* six minutes to monitor, but it just shows the heavy reliance on Bam at this stage and non-trust in those minutes. I’m still of the belief that Robinson should 100% be in that role at the moment, especially in a matchup like tonight. Not that Robinson is a reliable big man defender, but Chris Paul vs Dedmon in drop coverage can make 6 minutes feel like a basketball eternity.

#4: Hmmm, Torrey Craig is interesting…

When we often look around the league at possible 4’s to keep on the Heat’s radar, Torrey Craig is an interesting one. He played a very good game against Miami tonight, pretty much showing one of the pieces the Heat could very much utilize. To put it into even more context, we watched Haywood Highsmith tonight get the start next to Bam, and he had a bit of a rough one. Craig was extremely efficiency, hits spot-up triples, can play off the dribble at times in that in-between game, can rebound well for his size, and defends multiple positions. With the Suns already down one power forward, why would they trade another? But in terms of those packages with multiple players, Craig would be a fantastic add if they had the chance.

#5: Victor Oladipo has found his burst as of late, but is he adding in the perfect combo?

Victor Oladipo has been high usage over this road trip, but more specifically tonight due to Herro being out. His burst has been the highlight of his game over the last few weeks, since we haven’t seen this since his Indiana days. But that burst doesn’t mean much if the result isn’t equating to the moves. Yet that hasn’t been the case. His finishing has been solid, since he just loves that right slot when he gets the correct angle when that strong side help doesn’t slide down. Aside from that finishing, he got to the line a ton tonight. What’s the perfect sidekick to that revived burst? Free throw line antics. If he can find that balance of rim pressure and trips to the line, that’s all this Heat team needs if their offensive style ever gets back to that ideal state. Balancing that with some form of shooting is the goal, which they will try and fix at the deadline, I’m assuming.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Jazz

The Miami Heat played on the second night of a back to back in Utah on New Years Eve, and pulled away with a win.

Victor Oladipo showcased elite two-way skills, Bam Adebayo scores 32 points, oh and Tyler Herro’s game winner.

Some takeaways from this one…

#1: Victor Oladipo’s early punch on both ends.

As the first quarter comes to a close, the Heat lacked energy. Lacked an identity. Victor Oladipo entered the game, and he provided just that. Heat ran an action that many fans are familiar with, Duncan Robinson slipping a screen initially to create space for the PnR between the ball handler and the big man. That ball-handler happened to be Oladipo. He bursted down the right slot for the tough lay-in. Off the make, he pressured full court, deflecting and stealing the ball leading to the eventual Max Strus lay-in. He followed all that up with a three-point flurry in the second quarter. Catch and shoot looks as the Herro-Oladipo combo just continues to impress.

#2: We know Tyler Herro the scorer. We know Tyler Herro the passer. But how about Tyler Herro out of set actions?

Final possession of the second quarter, as the ball is placed in the hands of Tyler Herro. The entire goal is to get a shot with ideally 0 seconds on the clock, as he tries to time it. They run a variation of Spain PnR, as it’s a Herro-Orlando pick and roll, with Strus rising to the left wing off a ghost screen. Herro takes that extra dribble and step to pressure the defense, then zips it to Strus for the buzzer beater three. I may have just described one single play, but we’ve seen it much more frequently than that. I often harp on the Herro-Bam PnR, which we saw a good amount of tonight, but the more complex actions with multiple things going on fits his style. Moving parts is key for him, since one of his biggest strengths is manipulating off-ball defenders. He knows now that he gets a ton of extra attention at this stage, but now he’s realizing how to truly use it to his advantage.

#3: It’s time to flush three-point reliance…Well, to an extent.

We often hear in post game conversations that the goal for this Heat team is to hit that 40 three bench mark. In a very new age of basketball, it’s almost necessary to keep up with many of these high powered offenses. But the way to get to that baseline needs to be the result of another priority. When I look at guys like Jimmy Butler, Adebayo, Oladipo, and even Herro, they are their best versions following a heavy rim attack diet. Not only does it get them into an individual rhythm, but it shrinks the floor just enough for shooters to follow. Watching Adebayo’s attack, Oladipo’s rim pressure, and Herro’s in-between floater and passing game tonight, it only furthers that point. This team has totally fallen off the map in the three-point region, while also recognizing it can return at any point. But relying on that resurgence will never be the answer. Strong drives, free throw attempts, and rim pressure is the true Miami Heat MVP.

#4: The Heat’s inconsistencies appearing in the third quarter yet again.

When talking about inconsistencies in that third quarter, I could sit here and talk about specific possessions like when Bam had Mike Conley on his back under the basket, and that play resulted in two contested three pointers from Kyle Lowry and Haywood Highsmith. Process is important, but the offense wasn’t the issue again tonight. Back to back nights, this team just couldn’t generate stops on the defensive end for large pockets of time. When looking at specifics, it really comes down to something Erik Spoelstra harped on a few weeks ago: containing the ball. That’s where it all begins. If this team doesn’t pressure that initial creator, you’re betting on weaker defenders in tougher rotations once that initial paint touch is made. It’s something that needs

#4: Late-game discussion: Adebayo, Oladipo, Herro lead way.

Victor Oladipo sits at the top of the key with Kelly Olynyk guarding him 1-on-1. A screen comes and a miscommunication follows, as Oladipo drifts down the lane into a massive and-1 dunk right at the rim over Walker Kessler. That was pretty much a needed spark. The Heat picked up on the defensive end, which began with Oladipo up at the top, as turnovers flowed in. A Herro fast-break 2 into an eventual Oladipo rip and Adebayo and-1 shot in his in-between range looked like Miami found themselves for a large stretch. Fast forward to a bit later with 3 minutes left in the game, the Heat are up by 5. Herro snakes inside after drawing 2, feeds it to Bam in that mid-post, who fires a face-up jumper over his defender to give Miami a 7 point lead. As you would expect, the Jazz cut into that lead a bit, forcing Miami to execute to perfection late. With a 4 point lead with 30 seconds left, it looked like the Heat would dribble it out as long as possible. Herro ended up taking a deep three with 9 seconds left on the shot clock, giving the Jazz a chance on the break. Fast forwarding to late-game, a terrible foul call gives Markannan three free throws to tie. As Herro answers with the game winning three point floater. Happy New Year.

Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Pistons

And it gets worse.

The Heat fall to the Pistons at home, following up their worst loss of the season…with this.

I dive into game specifics here, good and bad, but this game means so much more than X’s and O’s.

But anyways, some takeaways:

#1: Tyler Herro’s perfect first half.

21 points, 7 for 7 from the field, 2 for 2 from three, 5 for 5 from the line. That was the stat-line for Tyler Herro at the half, on a night where he felt like the one and only engine in the half-court. He was getting into his bag a good bit, finding some baseline turnarounds, quick crossovers (that made Bogdanovic fall), and hitting the pull-up consistently. But more importantly, he was doing all of this at a very controlled pace. Slowly trotting through the lane into the floater may be a product of this Pistons’ defense, but it also showcases his growth. His scoring is finding that rhythm once again, after he eased back with early play-making over that specific stretch.

#2: Kyle Lowry words are necessary: about a very certain skill.

While we’ve been glued to watching the zone defense for a good bit, switching is still naturally their base. I know many of you guys scream at your screen when seeing a Heat guard on the back of an opposing big, since that was a trend for a while. But if that Heat guard is Kyle Lowry, hold your anger. I simply haven’t seen anything like Kyle Lowry’s post feel, no matter if he’s fronting or just guarding straight up. He knows the timing of when to spin into fronting position, but he’s also strong enough to hold off that offensive player before the help comes. He ended up with 5 steals at the half, and it was basically surrounded by this exact iteration. A serious skill.

#3: The bench still being routed in the scoring column.

If you looked at the box score at the half tonight, you would see a lot of minuses on the Heat’s bench and a bunch of pluses on the Pistons’ bench. To put into simpler terms, the Heat had 1 made field goal at the half from their reserves. Yes it may be a different look in the bench unit with Nikola Jovic filling for Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo coming back, and Duncan Robinson getting minutes, but the point remains the same. As much as I talk about Herro being the engine, they need to get back to that reliance on “depth,” especially with Butler and Lowry’s expected time off. When things go back to normal, that’ll be a lot on Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to truly grab a hold of. And well, Victor Oladipo now too…

#4: Victor Oladipo’s debut.

Victor Oladipo is back…again. It feels like we’ve had the “debut” quick a few times over his three season tenure, but that’s because we have. As he entered tonight, we quickly saw something Erik Spoelstra wanted to get an immediate eye on: the ball pressure. They vastly fell right into the 2-2-1 press, which backed into the 2-3 zone, per usual. To be honest, I would’ve liked to see more of a switching look when he was out there, just because I’m interested in how the one-on-one stuff looks exactly, but I guess we will save that for another time. He definitely wasn’t pressing too much offensively early, since it was a lot of direct drives and spot-up standing, but we saw an uptick in the 4th with those two exact elements. Pretty typical opening game, since some rust was expected.

#5: Rock bottom?

After proclaiming a horrible loss in Memphis by far the worst loss of the season for the Heat, they follow that up with this performance on the second night of a back to back against the Detroit Pistons. Zone, man, whatever. This transcends X’s and O’s at the moment. They just don’t have the energy on nights like this that is necessary. Last year when undermanned, this team played with max urgency when the team wasn’t even in a position to panic. Now the defense is leaking everywhere without containment, and the offense just doesn’t have anything to give if it’s not a Tyler Herro-Bam Adebayo led set. This team clearly has issues right now. And there’s not one singular thing to point your finger at.

The Ways to Maximize the Butler-Oladipo-Herro Pairing

When talking about the Heat potentially running it back to begin the season minus PJ Tucker, you could also make the case they’re running back the regular season by swapping Victor Oladipo for Tucker.

He was a guy that played a couple games late in the year, but was thrown in the mix during the playoffs to try and make it work on the fly.

But now that Miami re-signed him, this no longer consists of trial and error.

This is the real thing.

Yet when talking about him specifically, it’s more about how things will fit around him with certain lineup combinations. One of those awkward combos gained a ton of steam in their post-season run, but like I said earlier, they were basically trying things out to see how they’d look.

The combo that was gone to religiously was the Oladipo-Jimmy Butler-Tyler Herro grouping. They turned the keys over to a bunch of creators, basically knowing that the defending role players would hold up on the other end.

Looking at raw numbers within the advanced statistics, that three-man combo wasn’t the greatest. It logged a 107 offensive rating and 111 defensive rating over 97 minutes. But the issue with that is numbers like that don’t tell the full story.

Tyler Herro’s advanced stats were very poor late in their playoff run, bringing down a ton of lineup data. But something that always tells the truth: film.

I ended up rewatching all 97 minutes of the time they shared the floor, mainly focusing on the offensive end. And to scope even further, the half-court stuff. We know how and where all of them operate individually, but where do they blend all together?

There were some mixed variations, but I’m going to highlight the primary stuff that jumped off the screen. Starting somewhere that many of you can guess without even watching the film: spot-up shooting.

Just when using simple math, combining three on-ball creators means one has the ball in a pick and roll set, while the other two space out on each corner or wing. That, at times, became an unnecessary homebase for this Heat group, since there was zero consistency within that process.

Drive and kick, drive and kick, drive and kick. Yes, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo can knock down a spot-up corner triple, but it’s most definitely not the role you want them in.

Other than the fact that they’re better after putting the ball on the deck, the purpose of utilizing three creators is to ‘utilize them as three creators.’ The second they enter the three-point spacer role, the original purpose of this lineup has lost it’s value.

Now, this isn’t to say they won’t take advantage of the spot-up triple, but the process is the key element here.

With these three offensive builds, swing-swing-shot just won’t cut it.

Yet, swing-attack-paint touch-kick will cut it…

A common thread in their minutes together was that things always looked great when one of them got two feet in the painted area. When one of the three trusted mid-range threats build some momentum, the defense collapses slightly, which is basically the plot of how this can work.

Constantly move. I’ll get into that a bit more in a second, but when you look at some of the clips above, you’ll notice a difference in defensive disposition compared to normal spot-up shots.

They really found their groove in this department in the Philadelphia series. The Hawks series was a quick experiment late in the round, leading them into finding something offensively in the 76ers series, leading into facing a Boston defense who shut the water off around the rim if your name wasn’t Jimmy Butler.

But when talking regular season for the time being, that 76ers series is the blueprint.

We can talk about the starter competition all we want, but the truth is that doesn’t hold as much value as this does. Finding a way for this grouping to work changes everything. Lineup versatility, death lineup status, lengthier lineups on a team full of guards, etc.

But as we get into how they can make it work exactly, I must go back to the comment I made a second ago. When they share the floor, the key is to take the “motion offense” label and absolutely run with it.

Before I even say a word, watch the two clips above.

I can guarantee most of us are aligned on what we saw. Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo impersonating statues.

Whenever it included Jimmy Butler isolations or pick and rolls, even considering how great he was at carrying this group, it was never a good sign for the offense in a specific run.

Herro is a rhythm player. Oladipo is a rhythm player. This type of standing around only leads to them being behind the 8-ball, and as I said earlier, you must bend the defense to be successful.

I hate comparing things like this to the Warriors, but they’re a great example. They have two of the greatest shooters ever to make it work, but the idea of constant movement to create opportunities off the dribble, not only from beyond the arc but at the rim, is how Miami can replicate things with this grouping.

When going back through this film, this created a ton of big time offensive runs in the playoffs, mostly at home. They started playing to the crowd, got out on the break, and were moving in the half-court.

But the next question becomes: how do they make this movement stuff work?

And well, this was my biggest takeaway after watching possession after possession of these three guys.

The answer isn’t even one of the three.

If we expand this into a 4 man lineup with Bam Adebayo, the offensive rating shot up to a 121 offensive rating over 53 minutes. Yet after watching the way they utilized Bam in these time slots, that number didn’t surprise me at all.

For starters, they played Bam much higher out in these lineups than they usually would. There are a couple reasons for that, but I’ll just give you two: 1) Taking that weak-side big away from the rim with 3 attackers on the floor is the way to go and 2) they basically said ‘hey Bam, play some quarterback for us.’

If you watch that 45 second video above, it’ll give you an idea of that in video form.

Miami completely played Bam above the break, and used guys like Herro and Oladipo as rim blitzers off the wing. It’s simply a way to beat the overplay, but it’s also a main priority of creating some offensive movement in the half-court while bending the defense.

Sometimes you’ll see a simple overhead pass over the top to an open cutter. Other times it’s a weak-side misdirection where two fly at Herro.

The point is that Bam Adebayo could be the clear connector to make this pairing work, specifically late in games. We’ve talked about letting Bam operate in more space. We’ve talked about giving him more of the offensive reigns.

This could end up being a way to blend all of that together.

Trust me: if I learned anything from those 97 minutes across 10 games of basketball, it was that they found certain pockets to make it work with Bam playing distributor. The next step will be combining all of these checkpoints into a strong offensive base.

The groundwork is there. Now it’s all about consistency.

I’m heavily focusing on select players in this piece, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about them working guys like Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, or Caleb Martin into this mix.

This is a season where they’re going to use more three-guard lineups whether you like it or not, and Jimmy Butler at the 4 could most likely be the closing go-to, while I don’t believe it’ll be the starting choice.

Yet since Lowry was out for so many games over this stretch, I didn’t get a good enough idea of the specifics of that lineup. But another lineup addition jumped off the screen to bump this 4 man group into a full 5 man lineup.

Max Strus.

While it may seem odd, adding a shooter to this mix with constant screening, sprinting, and gravity shifted their half-court diet. Not only am I noticing this now, but the coaching staff clearly picked that apart with the amount of times they levitated toward that insertion when it truly mattered.

In 29 minutes, the lineup of Herro-Oladipo-Strus-Butler-Adebayo recorded a 132 offensive rating and 95 defensive rating. Yes, a VERY small sample size, but that wasn’t a coincidental occurrence. They found a blend to make things look clean, and if you look at the two clips above, you’ll notice the floor open up much wider when he’s moving around.

I know there are a lot of layers to this, but there will be a lot of layers to this season. And one of those layers is that if they run it back, making the Herro-Oladipo-Butler operate at a high level will be key.

You won’t get 2022 playoff Butler in this upcoming regular season. So now it’s time to equally split up the load. Or better yet, a Herro emergence or Oladipo comeback dominance may push this in the right direction even quicker.

Either way, it’s going to be unleashed.


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Victor Oladipo: The Secret Weapon Among Heat Speculation

As the 2021 trade deadline passed by, the Heat pretty much labeled Victor Oladipo as the potential X-factor down the stretch of the season. The Heat made that move to put them over the top heading into the post-season, but that experiment only lasted 4 games before he went down with injury.

Consequently, he had a similar label this past year with his return date looming late in the season. The potential X-factor to put this Heat team over the top before their late run. He had some ups and downs, but ultimately came up big in his 8 regular season games and 15 playoff games.

But now we find ourselves in round 3, and could he still be that X-factor piece once again?

I believe even moreso.

In terms of on-court fit, it wasn’t the cleanest the entire playoff run. A bit of taking turns from lineups including Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler, while the Herro-Dipo bench insertion took some time getting used to.

When the three-point shot was falling, which wasn’t too often in the post-season for the entire Heat squad, it changed the dynamic of their half-court offense. We know what he can do as an attacker, and the isolation/shot creation flashes is what makes me think so highly of this re-signing.

But it isn’t just about his own skill and development, it’s about his role with the team that’s around him. And yet, that got me thinking, depending on every scenario out there for this Heat off-season, he plays a valuable role in each.

First off, when eyeing the big fish Kevin Durant, who is currently number one on the Miami Heat’s agenda, there are certainly many different packages being thrown around. A Tyler Herro headliner would be a tough sell for a player of that caliber, but if you throw the farm in a trial run to keep Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo intact with Durant coming in, that wouldn’t leave much else left on the roster.

At that point, it’s pretty much the least of your worries, but it would also hypothetically mean Victor Oladipo is still on the squad as the team’s 4th best player. He’d play the starting two-guard next to that big 3, in a pretty ideal role with much more versatility on the offensive end.

Since Oladipo can’t be traded until halfway through this upcoming season, many of these big off-season trades mean they still have that weapon locked into their current plan.

Moving onto the second bullet point on the Heat’s checklist, there lies Donovan Mitchell. Reports currently flying around that the Jazz are now fielding some offers for the young guard, while it’s well known that Mitchell would like to play in Miami if he were to leave Utah.

So, a deal would most likely look something like Herro, Robinson, young assets, and a whole lot of picks. As Herro would be on his way out, it’s important to note that Oladipo was on the sideline closely monitoring Herro’s 6th man of the year season, which parallels perfectly with the Dipo conversation.

“Hey Vic, we now want you to fully play the Herro role.” With Mitchell slotting into the starting lineup at that point, it would give Dipo the full reigns of the bench unit to run things the young crew of Vincent, Strus, Martin, etc. (Side note: I know many would be worried about starting back-court defense with Mitchell, but man that’s some defense off the bench.)

Flowing into the last option, it’s actually pretty similar to the Mitchell stuff. Let’s just say the other trade names don’t materialize and stay put for now, we now turn to internal developments.

In my eyes, Tyler Herro is the starting shooting guard of the Heat if he’s still on the team by training camp, but that’s not to say Victor Oladipo won’t put up a fight for that spot. Yes, the contract Miami gave him was his best option, but there’s an idea that he will be able to compete for big time roles such as a starting position.

Once again, I do believe it would go to Herro in that scenario, meaning Dipo can consequently have the 6th man reigns of full offensive control, which is solid in theory.

Scanning the Miami Heat’s current roster, one thing sticks out majorly: the team’s guard room is crowded. Too crowded.

Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo, and potential summer league guys at the bottom of the roster like Marcus Garrett or Jamaree Bouyea on a two-way.

You may be saying, “Well it’s the same guard room as last year,” but that was only the case late in the season. To begin the year, Oladipo wasn’t healthy, Vincent and Strus types weren’t fully trusted, and Robinson was the comfortable starter.

Things change, and I expect things to change yet again. Just speculating, but that list of guards is a clear signal to me that something is coming in some capacity.

And whatever that may be, Oladipo will have a clear-cut role instead of the jumbled up confusion from this past season. Dipo will be meeting with Coach Spo after Summer League to talk about things like this, and that might just make all the difference in whatever direction the team elects to go.


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NBA Free Agency: Evaluating Every Major Signing From Day 1

Every year, a week after the draft, the NBA free agency period begins. This is always an exciting time for NBA fans, as it provides some excitement during the dull period that is the off-season. While this free agent class isn’t as exciting as some from years prior, there still have been a couple of big names receiving some large deals. Let’s take a look at some of the big transactions from the first day of free agency.

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (5 years, $264 million)

This one is a no-brainer. The now two-time and reigning MVP got a nice payday today, receiving a supermax deal from the Denver Nuggets. Jokic would have been a free agent after the 2023 season, but after this extension he’ll be a Nugget for the foreseeable future. After willing his team to the playoffs this season, Jokic deserves every penny of the deal that makes him the highest paid player in NBA history.

Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings (2 years, $19 million)

The 24-year old shooting guard will now join the third team in his young career. Monk spent four years with the Hornets before joining the Lakers last year. Malik averaged 13 points per game and now joins a backcourt featuring his former college teammate De’Aaron Fox.

Victor Oladipo, Miami Heat (1 year, $11 million)

Oladipo has had a bit of an up-and-down career, but he seems to have found a home in South Beach. Oladipo was a former All-Star, and there was lots of hype around him at the time he joined Miami. Victor struggled to stay on the court in 2021, but he’ll get a chance to run it back with one of the top teams in the East.

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards (5 years, $251 million)

Here, we have another star player getting extended with his current team. Beal has been the center of trade rumors in the past week, and those grew louder after he turned down his player option recently. Today, we learned why, as Beal gets a massive extension, one that makes him among the highest players in the league.

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks (4 years, $104 million)

The Knicks got their guy. After unloading a ton of cap space in the past week, all signs pointed to the New York choosing Brunson as their point guard of the future. The 25-year old had a breakout season last year, and played very well in the playoffs. Was he worth $104 million? Only time will tell.

Lu Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder (5 years, $87.5 million)

If there’s one guy who just had the best day of his career, it’s Lu Dort. Dort was one of the most underrated players in the league last season, averaging over 17 points and four rebounds. He’s an absolute force on the defensive end, and it will be exciting to watch him grow as a player in Oklahoma.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (4 years, $214 million)

Early Thursday morning, it was reported that the Nets would want Devin Booker in return for any trade involving Kevin Durant. It’s clear now that won’t be happening. Booker, one of the elite scorers in the league will now be locked up in Arizona for a long time.

Overall, this was a pretty eventful first day of NBA free agency. For a group that didn’t feature a ton of big names, Thursday was still a whirlwind in the NBA world. There are still some big names remaining on the market, and the next few days should be interesting to watch.


***This article was originally published on the ATB Network by Jake Brockhoff***

  Hussam Patel is a Miami Dolphins contributor and Lead NFL Draft analyst at Five Reasons Sports Network, Director of Scouting at PhinManiacs and Editor at Dolphins ATB. Follow him on Twitter at @HussamPatel
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Five Takeaways from Heat’s Loss to Boston in Game 4

The Miami Heat entered game 4 up 2-1, and the Celtics were clearly desperate.

But the issue with that: the Heat looked the exact opposite of desperate.

Much like the theme of this series, one team dominated the game, which in this case was the Boston Celtics.

So, here are some takeaways on what went wrong for the Heat…

#1: I can count the Miami Heat’s first half buckets on one hand…

6 of 32. What do those numbers portray? Well, that’s the Miami Heat’s shooting from the field in the first half, excluding Victor Oladipo. They didn’t have a made field goal for like 3/4’s of the first quarter, leaving them with 11 points over that initial 12 minute span. Jimmy Butler didn’t look like himself, Bam Adebayo’s aggression wasn’t there and they were collapsing on him in the lane, and the perimeter players like Kyle Lowry and Max Strus were being absolutely blanketed. The Boston defense deserves credit for flattening Miami out, but bunnies wouldn’t even drop for the Heat in that half. Short on floaters and mid-range pull-ups, which was the spot on the floor they kept funneling them to. No Tyler Herro created extra half-court hurdles, but that wasn’t the absence. It was a complete team offensive absence. Actually, except Victor Oladipo.

#2: Well, Victor Oladipo showed up.

Why is Oladipo being mentioned briefly throughout the beginning of this piece? That’s because he was the only player who made a first half appearance, as he scored 18 points off the bench in that first half. For one, it’s sometimes just as simple as saying he got in a rhythm and hit some shots, but he created those things himself with his early approach. Right when he entered, his mindset was clear: I’m going right at defenders to get to the basket. That line of thinking puts so much stress on an individual defender, leading into his success in iso ball. The Heat didn’t have one workable set or functional player, so they allowed Dipo to work some magic in isolation. They saw good results there, especially in contrast to the rest of the team. The last time Herro missed a game, which the rest of the team missed as well, Dipo dropped 40. And now we see this. He looks comfortable, but maybe it’s time to give him some more on-ball time.

#3: Could Miami eventually give Robert Williams the Bam treatment?

Marcus Smart was ruled out in game 4, but Robert Williams made his return to the lineup. It’s clear his impact is felt every time he plays, not just defensively, but as a vertical threat on the offensive end. His size and rebounding skill has given the Heat some trouble, but the true topic with him is on defense. And well, it’s clearly adjustment time for Erik Spoelstra and the Heat. Yet while watching him operate on that end by covering ground and protecting the rim, it brings you back to the way other teams treat Bam at times. Could the Heat find ways to pull Williams away from the play? Playing 4-on-4 could be positive or negative depending on context, but finding a way for a shooter to draw that switch and clear could lead to some good outcomes. The focus is offense, but I’m interested to see Miami get to that more.

#4: So, how can the Heat adjust their offensive approach?

Instead of evaluating the 48 minutes played in this game, let’s make a quick shift and look ahead to the next 48 minutes of this series. Heading into this match-up, one thing was clear about this Heat team in terms of blaring weaknesses: the half-court attack could become problematic. And looking at tonight, as I touched on earlier, it’s one thing to miss open shots and another to generate a poor shot profile overall. The latter feels like the more important element here. Tyler Herro is a major part of this team’s offensive success, but do you know the only way to make up for that? Jimmy Butler rim pressure combined with kick-outs to shooters. When neither of those things are clicking, it’s going to be a long night. Bam Adebayo also followed up his aggressive showing with a quiet night, but it definitely was a focus to flatten him out. Shooting being a non-factor means less room for Bam to operate, plus he just wasn’t aggressive. So an offensive adjustment must be on the way.


#5: So, it’s 2-2 by the way.

It’s no doubt that this was a horrible loss. But so was game 2. And so were games 1 and 3 for Boston when eyeing the context. Moral of the story: this is a long series. After the Celtics stole one back in Miami, the task for the Heat heading up to Boston was pretty clear. Just steal one. And they did just that in game 3, while the Celtics came out in game 4 with the necessary urgency. Momentum just isn’t a thing in this Eastern Conference Finals. Right when you think one team possesses it, the opposing group kicks you right in the mouth. But now it’s a clean slate. The Heat are currently tied with the Celtics 2-2 in the series, turning into a best of 3 to get to the Finals. They positioned themselves to have home court advantage, and now it’ll come in handy. Now it’s just about taking care of business back home on Wednesday in game 5.


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The Main Victor Oladipo Element for this Heat Team

No Jimmy Butler-no Kyle Lowry on Monday night against the Boston Celtics. What is the product of that equation? Well, it shows an offensive game-plan that lacks one of the Heat’s most crucial elements: rim pressure.

Tyler Herro was pretty much the only one who could semi-do it on a very awkward offensive night, but he’s clearly a complementary driver and attacker at this stage in his career, and not a primary reliable source in that way.

So, those points get you thinking. Missing top dogs on the roster? Missing rim pressure offensively? Missing that main dish on a night where guys like Max Strus provide the complementary 27 points?

Yeah, in theory, there isn’t a better filler/answer to those questions than a healthy Victor Oladipo.

And yet, as the clock hit midnight late last night, could we officially be in the return month of the Heat’s potential shiny new toy?


The thing about Oladipo is that he can fill a lot of holes and provide a lot of things, but when discussing it this far away from actually seeing him out there, it’s tough to predict how he will look in certain aspects of his game.

Defense is the thing that’ll shoot up his minutes per game immensely, since ultimately I feel that’s what will keep him on the floor for extended time. Guys like Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent have been elite on-ball stoppers as of late, but adding in one of the better off-ball hounds, navigating screens everywhere on the floor is just another beast.

But once again, there’s a caveat: we don’t know if that’ll still be intact as soon as he returns.

While I could dissect so many different elements of his game that’ll provide a major plus to this Heat team down the stretch of the year, I want to keep this relevant to what we’ve seen as of late, and that’s the need for his on-ball attack.

The last two games from Miami have highlighted the drive and kick that they rely on so heavily. Against Toronto, it was their only good looking offense in those 3 overtimes, but the frequency of it wasn’t as high as it should’ve been. Against Boston, the Celtics wouldn’t help off the weak-side corner, which pretty much eliminates the “kick” in drive and kick.

But was it truly the “kick” that was eliminated? Absolutely not.

The thing Miami was without in that scenario was the “drive.” As pointed out earlier, Herro being the primary attacker leaves a top tier defense picking their poison, and the choice wasn’t a very difficult one.

Yet in a drive and kick offense, it’s something Oladipo is built for.

Looking at those clips up above, you see a guy that can draw multiple defenders into the lane when attacking, almost in Butler fashion when he’s rolling on a certain night. In that second clip, when facing Miami in game 4 of the Bubble playoffs, he takes the iso on Butler, gets past just enough to collapse Herro-Crowder-Bam, then makes a live skip pass to the opposite wing for a 3.

When evaluating talent, that stuff doesn’t just disappear. We can talk about potentially lacking that initial speed to get by Butler on that isolation, but those reads will always be there to stay. And that’s what’ll make the lives of guys like Butler and Lowry so much easier.

Speaking of the debate about him having that burst to make plays at the rim, I’m not so sure he relies on it as much as some think. There’s no doubt he’s an explosive player on both ends, but he uses more finesse than pure quickness.

Looking at the first two clips above, during that short stint with Miami, you can see that little euro step was his penetration go-to when getting that one-on-one under the rim.

No matter if it’s an iso on James Wiseman or a horns set into a hand-off and size mismatch down low on Dennis Schroder, there are ways for Dipo to apply that much needed rim pressure without that “burst.”

But it should be mentioned that this operation should not be looked at like the last. As many reports have shown, the injury has actually been repaired in a way that wasn’t the case when he got to Miami last season. It’s more about eliminating the degree of re-injury instead of worrying about that explosive push, but we will just have to see how that plays out.

Another part of his offensive bag that requires skill over quickness is his ability to get to the line.

In his 4 games with Miami last year, (yes, very small sample size), he got to the line at least 5 times in three of those games. He just has a knack for drawing contact and forcing defenders to make that swipe, which could be his most useful tool in a playoff series.

The Heat currently rank 24th in free throw attempts per game, but that may be one of the biggest shifting numbers once the playoffs begin. Once Lowry and Butler are actually on the floor together for longer than a day or two, while Dipo can be that “Butler off the bench” as a pace provider by getting to the line, it’s essentially the perfect fit.


Oladipo will no doubt have to earn his spot from these high level role players like Martin or Strus when he makes his return, but there’s also no doubt that his build is the picture perfect type of player for what this team needs at this moment in time.

Rim pressure, check.

Perfect balance off the bench to the game of Tyler Herro, check.

Defensive versatility late in games to eliminate singular defenders getting picked on, check.

And just a high level talent who has done it in this league for quite some time at an elite standard, definite check.

That timer is dwindling down sooner and sooner on Oladipo’s return, and games like last night against Boston will dwindle down shortly after.

We can have the conversation about playoff rotations, and who plays where, but I can guarantee Dipo will be a part of that if healthy.

And when Victor Oladipo is your team’s 7th man come playoff time, I’d say you’re in an OK spot.


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The Kyle Lowry-Victor Oladipo Dynamic Has Major Potential in Miami

Exactly 6 months ago from next Saturday, basically every NBA fan was staring at their phone, computer, or TV, waiting for that next Woj bomb to pop up before the trade deadline. For many Miami Heat fans, it wasn’t as much “if” something would happen. It was “which” would happen.

By that I mean the Heat were going to try and grab a highly talented guard who plugged two of their biggest issues at the time: shot creation and point of attack defense. The two options were Victor Oladipo and Kyle Lowry, mostly since both of them were perfect choices to make yet another late season push.

The Heat ended up acquiring Oladipo due to the pricing being much cheaper than if they went all in on Lowry at the time. And well, I’d say that was a pretty great decision.

Fast forward a few months and the Miami Heat have both of those guys on their roster. Of course the Oladipo insertion will have to wait quite a while, but that shouldn’t even be a big area of focus. This team is absolutely and positively built for the post-season. So if they have to hold Dipo out for an extended period to make sure he’s healthy enough for that push, then so be it.

But when discussing these two players, it always feels like they’re evaluated individually when preparing for this upcoming season. Many picture them in a scary defensive lineup along with Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker, and Bam Adebayo, but it’s not insane to say they can handle their own lineups with Butler and Adebayo each getting a breather.

So, that’s what we’ll be looking into here. What would a Lowry-Oladipo back-court look like this season?

A Flash From the Past

When I initially think of Lowry playing next to a shot creating guard on the offensive end, barring Oladipo comes back with that ability to a certain degree, the Lowry-DeRozan long term combo is what I picture immediately.

In no way, shape, or form am I saying that is what Oladipo will look like next season, but it translates to the way he can be utilized in a Miami Heat offense. And that all starts with the consistent 1-2 punch in specific offensive sets.

Lowry and DeRozan were fantastic at bouncing off each other throughout their tenure, but a lot of their floor time consisted of taking turns in a sense. Lowry flipping the switch into play-making mode or plummeting to the basket in PnR, or DeRozan going to work in the high post for straight bucket getting.

With a healthy Oladipo, it would be interesting to see that “taking turns” mentality with the right guys around them on the floor.


But when looking at some Oladipo patterns, I don’t see an immediate shot creation impact upon return. Whenever he returns from injury, catch and shoot three point attempts always rise, and I’d expect that to be the case once again. Lowry has always been great at finding shooters on the perimeter with wild kick-outs or no-look swings, and that creativity may be huge for Dipo to get into a rhythm.

In a lot of ways, this will be the starting point when Oladipo makes his awaited return to the basketball court, but seeing his mentality in the past, it never takes long for him to get back into attacking mode. And well, that’s when this back-court dynamic will truly excel.

In a perfect scenario when these two share the floor, Oladipo dominates the ball and Lowry is the off-ball threat. Not to continually compare it to the DeRozan usage, but that’s why the offense was able to run so smoothly.

Looking at the play above, we see them bouncing off one another in the Spain pick and roll. DeRozan attacks, Lowry screens the screener, leading to a pop out for three. If Dipo has 75% of his attacking ability back, these type of actions can work.

Even though he was known for being an athletic player, I don’t think it’s where his offensive success derives from completely. He has great touch, can create space around the rim with his body, and can control the mid-range enough to make it hard on defenders. And none of that stuff is parallel with completely relying on athleticism.

The point is that Lowry off the ball will be huge for this duo. If they can find a rhythm late in the regular season before the playoffs, that elevates this team even more. And when getting to playoff time, there won’t be many instances where Butler and Adebayo are both on the sideline, meaning those two sharing the floor with them just leads to absolute chaos for opposing teams.

Take a look at the play above. I’m sure your first takeaway is: how does this relate to Oladipo when seeing rim rocking lob finishes from DeRozan? The answer to that question is the emphatic slam has nothing to do with why I’m showing this play. It’s really about the pacing and back-door usage in an updated Heat offense.

Even when it seemed Miami had the players built for a transition heavy offense, that never really checked out. If you’re going to be a top defensive team in the league, that should always translate to open floor buckets, and the new acquisitions should finally make that possible.

Many have brought this point up about Lowry’s increased speed and willingness to catch defenses off-guard through fast pace, but I’d say Oladipo is pretty similar in that sense. Before his recent injury, he loved to run the floor and get easy opportunities, even in his small stint with Miami.

So, if they share the floor for an extended period, I’d expect this to come to fruition.

Secondly, there’s a chance Dipo may lack that same explosiveness that he once had. The way to counteract that is using a lot of the things they used in Toronto a few years back.

Let me just say, Lowry is a fantastic passer, but an even better adjective is that he’s a sneaky passer. He’s one of those guys that gives weak-side defenders, or bigs defending PnR, a major headache on a night to night basis. To that point, the utilization of back-cuts and back-door screening should absolutely be a priority.

If they can find ways to bend a defense through anticipation of passes, they’ve already won. This is something I don’t really expect to see a ton of in the regular season, just due to the fact they can spring it on teams in a playoff series if offense becomes stagnant.

This is why Oladipo is a true wild card for this team. Not just due to his overall health, but the boost he can give to this team in every facet. And the reason I’m only focusing on the ways they can run offense is because the defensive stuff is a given.

A Lowry-Dipo defensive back-court is something the Heat have been needing for some time. And well, that’s excluding the team’s top 2 defenders, Adebayo and Butler, which could potentially be a closing four on many nights in the playoffs.

What Can the Heat Run to Maximize this Combo?

Whenever we discuss “maximizing” certain players on the floor offensively, the lineup should always include Duncan Robinson. The driving lanes just expand whenever he’s being used as a screener or sprinting off a screen of his own, which we see in action right here.

Oladipo looks like he’s about to flow into a double drag with Robinson and Adebayo screening, but he inserts the ball into Adebayo. This play transitions into a DHO back to Dipo, while Robinson turns and screens for the player in the weak-side corner.

In this case, that corner player would be Kyle Lowry.

Oladipo ended up getting position for a tough bucket here, but this could usually go in a couple different directions. He could hit Lowry on the loop-around at the top of they key, hit Robinson who is popping out in the corner, or probe through the lane for a reset.

And well, that’ll be the Lowry and Oladipo on-court chain reaction. Using the Erik Spoelstra added layers to create good looks through each other’s biggest offensive skill.

This final offensive action is something I’ve brought up repeatedly, but never in terms of Oladipo.

It’s something Toronto went to a ton when Lowry was on the floor, where he inserts the ball in the high-post/elbow, as he runs off the ball into a pin-down for a wing triple. This is where those Spoelstra “layers” come into play, since Oladipo can bring a specific wrinkle.

I’ve brought up this set since it can be run for Herro to get some good looks with Lowry in the post, but this could probably benefit Dipo even more. Even though this possession flowed into a DHO back to Lowry for a three, I see this going in a different direction.

When this is being run, all eyes are on the off-ball madness, waiting to see if the shooter gets open or the big slips for the cut. The Dipo wrinkle could potentially be a game of one-on-one on the elbow. He’s always been great in space once he gets defenders on their heels, which is exactly where this would go.

Either creating a good look for mid-range or taking a chance on a blow-by with no big in sight. This is why these two can be dynamic on the offensive end with Erik Spoelstra steering the ship.

Whenever I show specific examples, it’s important to note the possibilities are endless with how they will be positioned in a normal game flow, but they will clearly have a strong base to revert back to.

Once upon a time these two players were essentially being compared in Miami to see who could make the bigger impact. And now the comparison is whether this combo will work better with the ball in the hands of Oladipo or in the hands of Lowry.

Things can change quickly in this league, and that’s exactly what happened for the Heat. The regular season may be bright for this squad, but the playoffs are even brighter.


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