Cup of Joe: Preseason Roundup
Welcome to the first installment of Cup of Joe.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself what the heck this is. Well, think of this as your biweekly catch-up on things you may have missed from the HEAT.
From showing you crazy plays like Derrick Jones Jr. dunking over three people (that’d be cool) or Tyler Herro scoring 14 straight points (that one actually did happen) to giving you, the fans, my general observations on the team, I’ll strive to make this your go-to spot every other Monday.
For today’s episode (can I even call it that?), we’ll get into the preseason as a whole and look at some things that could materialize once things get real on Wednesday.
New Rooks On The Block
Make no mistake about it, Herro was the talk of the preseason thanks to his innate ability to score in bunches.
We all saw that when he scored Miami’s first 14 points against Atlanta.
He’s a bucke…well, you know the rest.
And while the rookie utilized screens effectively, showed excellent footwork and displayed fluid mechanics throughout the exhibition slate, he also demonstrated that he could create off the dribble.
All told, Herro led the squad with 14.2 points per game on 51.9 percent shooting from deep. Not to mention, the HEAT also outscored the opposition by 19.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
And if you ask Jimmy Butler, it’s all because Herro’s built differently.
“He loves to work, man. I’m telling you, a lot of people are not built like that anymore,” Butler said. “But that kid has it, and that’s why he’s going to be so special because…name your top five in the league, he’s not backing down. He’s not. You’re not supposed to [back down] here anyways. We don’t care. And I think he’s going to set the tone for everybody that’s here now and for the future because he’s going to be a part of this organization for a long time.”
Another young guy that could be around for a while is Kendrick Nunn.
You may remember him for his 40-point explosion against Houston in Miami’s preseason finale, but the dynamic scorer has been on the rise ever since Summer League.
Erik Spoelstra has certainly taken notice.
“That game didn’t move the needle any more or less for me. We’ve been in the gym since early summer. I’ve seen his body of work…in my mind…he could have been easily the MVP of the Vegas Summer League. So, he’s played at a high level, and [in] camp he showed really good moments,” Spoelstra said. “…he offers something that we need. I’ll have to figure out exactly where that’ll be, but he’s certainly somebody that’s going to earn minutes somehow.”
At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. The HEAT now have two young guys that can really make some noise.
The Hammer & KO
Let’s get into some vets now, shall we?
With Kelly Olynyk out for most of the preseason, newcomer Meyers Leonard started every game alongside Bam Adebayo and made plays both out of the pick-and-roll and with the ball in his hands on the elbow.
Just check out this nifty pocket pass to Butler after the dribble handoff was denied:
“He’s a facilitating five, which we love,” Spoelstra said. “Guys that can help you get to triggers, get to offense. He’s a very unselfish and giving player. That tends to work well. And then the fact that he can shoot with range up to 25 feet, that adds valued spacing to your offense.”
Olynyk can also do those things, but Coach Spo likes how the two provide a different look for the opposition.
“I love the difference between the two. Meyers gives you a size and a physicality. He can stretch the floor, [but] he does it in a totally different way than KO. KO, you see his skill level, [against Orlando]. He can do a little bit more off the dribble, a little bit more of the keeps and fakes and things that generate some looks for us in our handoff game,” Spoelstra said.
“But we need both. And I like the blend of both. I’m not really going to get into [who’s] starting or not. They’re both going to play, and that’s all that matters. They’re both emotionally stable enough, and they’ve had enough years to understand that. And who knows? It may be, eventually, an opponent-based deal with them.”
Once Olynyk did return for the last two preseason games, he picked up right where he left off with Goran Dragić.
That’s how it’s done.
Jimmy Doing Jimmy Things
Butler is all about doing whatever it takes to win.
And for the bulk of the preseason, that meant letting the game come to him and facilitating for his teammates.
Then the Magic game came around, and he did that whole Jimmy Buckets thing with a streak of 10-straight points midway through the contest and a game-high 23 points at the end of the night.
This bucket that got the streak started may not seem like much, but it came at a critical point for Miami with Orlando starting to gain momentum:
It’s always good when your best player leads by example.
Odds & Ends
-Adebayo’s “switchability” on defense and fantastic passing was on full display throughout the preseason.
Here are a collection of his best blocks and assists over the five games:
-Although Justise Winslow didn’t shoot the way he’s accustomed to, he fared well as the HEAT’s primary ball handler and recorded what would have been a career-high 12 assists against the Magic.
This was by far his best pass:
-Jones Jr. came through with some rim-rocking jams as usual, but finishing around the basket will be key in his development this season.
Luckily, we saw a little bit of that, too:
-Last but not least, the HEAT converted both Chris Silva and Daryl Macon’s deals to two-way contracts on Saturday.
“Chris obviously reminds us of guys that we like at the big position…guys that are just coming in here with such overwhelming effort and consistency to that effort every day,” Spoelstra said. “…and Daryl is somebody that we really liked last summer…he stayed on our radar. And he worked with us the last month or so, and he earned it as well.”