Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Evolution of Max Strus’ Game

Max Strus is a dangerous sharpshooter who has become the perfect role player. His combustibility from beyond the arc earned him a spot in the starting rotation at the end of last season and made him again one of coach Spo’s trusted eight this year.

Strus is not a one-dimensional player. His primary role will likely always be as a premium deep threat, but he has made noticeable improvements scoring inside the arc through the Heat’s first 10 games (4–6).

Last season (2021/2022), Strus took 78.4% of his shots from 3-point range. His volume from that area has dropped to 64.1% this year. Despite a lower frequency, he has become harder to guard because his efficiency has risen on two-pointers.

In Miami’s win over the Sacramento Kings, Strus hit 2/5 from deep while converting a pair of shots in the restricted area. On his first made two-pointer, he beat everyone on the break, catching a pass launched by Kyle Lowry in the backcourt. Strus caught the rock just outside the restricted area, gathered, and came up for a layup with Keegan Murray on his tail.

His other inside finish came in the halfcourt. From the top of the key, Strus cut inside, curled to the left baseline, and dusted Kevin Huerter on the dive back to the basket, assisted by a bounce pass from Bam Adebayo for a layup.

In Tuesday’s win at home against the Golden State Warriors, 10/17 of Strus’ attempts came from the outside (4/10), but he consistently put pressure on the rim too.

In transition, he caught a hit-ahead pass from Adebayo as Kevon Looney closed out to the right wing. Strus faked a dribble pick-up, freezing Looney while he dashed inside for a soft lay-in.

On the next inside score, Strus caught a pass on the left wing and immediately darted past Andrew Wiggins, hitting a floater over Draymond Green in the low post.

The trend continued for Miami’s ignitable marksman in the Heat’s narrow loss in Indiana on Friday. Half of Stus’ makes came in the restricted area, but two of those scores stemmed from steals.

Covering the left wing in Miami’s 2-3 zone, Strus recognized that Myles Turner was about to pass to Tyrese Haliburton up top the moment a pindown was set by Jalen Smith. Max blew up the play by bursting forward, intercepting the rock, and slamming it through the cylinder on a none-on-one fastbreak.

On the next two-point play, Strus closed out to the right wing as Bennedict Mathurin caught a pass. Indiana’s rookie put Strus on his back hip but was stripped in the lane because he shifted his dribble back to his right hand. Strus recovered the ball and took it to the cup, finishing past a contest by Haliburton in front and Turner behind him as he converted the finger roll.


His final inside score came in the halfcourt. Caleb Martin crossed over Turner in the right corner and cut through the baseline. Strus, standing at the left wing, noticed the defense ball watching the breakdown and not sending help. He then cut through the lane, received the pass, and layed it up softly.

On shots from 3-10 feet from the rim, Strus is shooting 50% from the field. In 2021/2022, only 5.3% of his attempts came from that zone. This season, he has nearly doubled his shots from that territory while also raising his efficiency by 6.3%.

Through 10 games, #31 has finished five dunks. Last year in 68 matches, he slammed seven.

Currently, he’s averaging 14.2 points on 44.8% shooting from the field and 37% from deep. Plus 4.6 boards and a couple of assists a night too. But Strus is more than that.

He’s turned into the ideal role player- an egoless and complete teammate. He produces on the court, never throws anyone under the bus, and accepts whatever duty is shouldered on him.

Strus is a guy who keeps polishing his game because still has the hunger that comes with going undrafted. His work ethic is unteachable. People like him are special.

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