Cup of Joe: A Start For The Record Books

Cup of Joe, Jimmy Butler, Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

I don’t even know where to start.

Seriously, the HEAT have had such a good start to the season that it’s tough to figure out where to even begin with this edition of Cup of Joe.

Let’s just go down the list, shall we?

As of Nov. 4, Miami is ranked…

  • No. 1 in Net Rating (10.3)
  • No. 1 in True Shooting Percentage (59.5)
  • No. 3 in Rebound Percentage (53.2)
  • No. 4 in Assist Percentage (65.3)

Whoa.

Now, I understand that it’s still very early (only a six-game sample size) and some of that could be a byproduct of the team’s crazy outing against Houston where it set franchise records with 46-first quarter points and a plus-32 differential after one, but it’s hard not to be impressed with those numbers.

As for how the HEAT have been able to do all this, read more below to find out.


Butler Already Making An Impact

Although Jimmy Butler missed Miami’s first three games due to the birth of his daughter, his impact ever since has been undeniable.

In fact, Butler has already racked up 16 total deflections and 4.3 steals per game, which would lead the league if he qualified.

But enough reading for the time being. Check out some of his best defensive sequences:

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the 30-year-old vet has been a godsend for the HEAT’s offense, too. (He’s averaging a team-high 7.3 assists per contest.)

Not only has his sheer presence made life easier for his teammates considering all the attention he commands, but his selfless attitude has also paid dividends.

“The more you can commit to our identity and commit to the team and enjoy it when other guys are playing well, that’s the whole deal. And that’s the hardest thing to bottle up in this league, but it really helps when your best player absolutely is driving that,” Erik Spoelstra said.

“…[Butler] really doesn’t care what his scoring average is. He doesn’t care how many shots he gets up. As long as we win [and] we’re playing the right way, he understands the big picture. We need guys to get better and to gain confidence as the season goes on.”

Records Are Made To Be Broken

Two guys that Butler has greatly helped in that regard are Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, whom are ranked among the top five in rookie scoring.

Nunn actually leads Miami with 19.5 points per game, and a lot of that has to do with his calm demeanor. No matter what the circumstances are, he never seems fazed by the moment.

After coming through with a solid debut against the Grizzlies and a valiant effort in Minnesota where he hit a career-high five threes, the 24-year-old put it all together in a historic outing in Atlanta where he broke Connie Hawkins’ record for most points by an undrafted player through their first five games in NBA history.

This is the play that sealed it:

That’s what’s up.

Then again, Nunn also became the first player to score at least 100 points in his first five games since Kevin Durant in 2007-08.

Pretty good company if you ask me.

Nunn wasn’t the only player to set records, though, as Herro also did his thing against that same Hawks team two nights prior in Miami.

Thanks to a handful of treys, aggressive takes to the basket and shots from the charity stripe, the former Kentucky Wildcat scored a team-high 29 points, which were the most by a rookie off the bench in franchise history. What’s more, he became the first HEAT rookie to score 19 points in a quarter since Caron Butler did so against the Jazz on March 10, 2003.

I’m sure you want to see that quarter, so here’s every field goal from Herro during that flurry:

But again, the most important takeaway is that Herro fared well off the bench.

“We like this role [off the bench] for him,” Spoelstra said. “He can observe for the first few minutes of the game and get a feel for how things are going in the context of the game and then come in and try to fit in and spark us.”

Ball Movement Is Key

What also sparks a team is balance and good ball movement.

As previously mentioned in the intro, the HEAT are among the league’s elite in assist percentage. And when you delve deeper into it, eight guys are averaging over 11 points per game. Eight.

Below are some examples of Miami’s unselfish ways:

Odds & Ends:

-Simply put, Bam Adebayo has done it all thus far.

I mean, his hustle stats are just absurd.

Get this: he leads the HEAT with 29 screen assists for 64 points, 60 contested shots, 19 deflections and 12 loose balls recovered.

Oh yeah, he’s also holding his defensive assignments to a paltry 37.6 percent shooting and averaging a team-high 1.7 blocks per game.

“[Adebayo is] really embracing the leadership role, particularly with our defense,” Spoelstra said. “He’s the anchor of it, obviously along with Justise. And Jimmy will be that guy as well, but he has the adequate amount of corporate knowledge of how we do things. And he’s a terrific example of the level of intensity and urgency that we need to bring on every possession, and he shows that to everybody else with his actions.”

With all that in mind, why not take a look at all of Adebayo’s rejections below?

-Goran Dragić has thrived as Miami’s sixth man, ranking among the top 10 in bench scoring with 16.2 points per game. (Herro and JJ are up there, too, but it’s a smaller sample size.)

“It’s not easy to do what he’s doing. And just because he and I had a conversation about this, that doesn’t mean that anybody is volunteering to come off the bench,” Spoelstra said. “It takes an incredibly stable and big-picture-thinking player like a Goran or a Dwyane Wade to be able to see how this can work. And Goran is one of the ultimate winners. This will be a way, hopefully, that not only can we keep him fresh in the fourth quarter, but keep him fresh in March, April, May.”

Well, the Dragon was certainly fresh on this clutch bucket against the Bucks:

Gotta love it.

Until next time.

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