(Part 2 can be found here)
The high flier out of California had just finished up a dominant run in the NBL playing for the Perth Wildcats in Australia and it seemed fans were expecting big things out of the rookie right away. With a strong preseason and an opening night dunk that turned Rasual Butler into a smoldering pile of ashes, it seemed Ennis was on his way towards becoming a big-time contributor.
82 games later, we're in a more nuanced, but hopeful position with him. Ennis' lack of ball handling is a glaring hole in his game right now and with him it appears to be a lack of confidence when trying to get around defenders more so than an inability, picking up his dribble or getting stripped far too easily. On offense, Ennis' shot distribution is pretty solid, taking 75% of his shots at the rim or at the three, but he wasn't particularly efficient from either spot, and his somewhat unorthodox stroke may need some tweaking (he was much better from the right wing and corner). The good thing is the aforementioned weaknesses can easily be rectified with an offseason of practice and Ennis made pretty big strides as the season went along, reentering the rotation on March 6th and averaging 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds the rest of the season.
Likely due to the tutelage of Luol Deng, Ennis had evolved into a great cutter, timing his darts to the hoop perfectly and showing a real knack for drawing fouls in bunches when cutting or driving to the hole. If he can smooth out the edges of his game, a sophomore leap isn't totally out of the equation.
The former All-Star was brought to the team in hopes that he'd regain some semblance of his offensive game and provide a lift to the 2nd unit. Unfortunately, the gamble by Miami backfired. Granger played in only 7 of the first 28 games of the season and when he did play, it was evident that he had lost much of his vertical lift and lateral quickness and was ineffective off the bounce and around the basket. He shot threes at 35%, a decent number, but reached that total with a lot of variance. Granger brought back memories of former streak shooters such as Rafer Alston and Eddie House, sometimes hitting threes in bunches and other times being unable to knock down anything no matter how open he was.
The fact that Miami traded Granger in the Goran Dragic deal months after signing him says enough about how they felt about their decision. What's also telling is Granger did not play a game for a Phoenix Suns team that was in the middle of a playoff run, nor did he get bought out.
"Big Ham" was another project center Miami decided to develop back in 2013. After proving to be overqualified for the NBA D-League, Hamilton was given a shot this season to make an impact for a team that lacked size prior to finding Hassan Whiteside. Hamilton started 5 games and played in 24 so there's not much to work with. From what I gathered Hamilton seemed oddly reluctant to fire jumpers even though that was his strength, often forgoing open 3s. He flashed a decent jump hook and used his bulk to alter shots without blocking them at the rim, but his minutes were sparse as a result of his lack of athleticism and Miami's philosophy (pre-Hassan) of small ball.
After getting landing in Minnesota following being cut by New Orleans, he looked like a different player, averaging 9.0 points and 5.1 rebounds, shattering pretty much every career high he had previously set in Miami and even showing some chops as a passer. There were more minutes and shots on that team so with the opportunity, Hamilton might be able to stick around in the league a bit longer.
The beloved co-captain and franchise leader in rebounds strung together another season of hustling for rebounds and battling inside. Haslem spent ample time both as a starting power forward and backup center, playing through a variety of injuries (his teammates nicknamed him "Iceman"). Again, his lift at the rim was wildly inconsistent and for the first time since 2011-2012, his finishing at the rim was empirically poor. Haslem would often fare better against teams without athletes, throwing together a 12 point 12 rebound game against ground-bound Boston a day after not scoring or securing a rebound against Milwaukee, a team of lanky, athletic defenders.
Despite that, this Haslem season was not unlike his last three or four. His per-36 minutes numbers have been shockingly consistent throughout his career so there isn't much I can add other than Haslem finally made an NBA three pointer after 12 seasons (two in fact). He will continue to provide veteran leadership and tenacity on the court, but is removed from his prime as a reliable double-double & midrange threat. He is quality depth to have on the team.
Young TJ looked to be quite a midseason find, quickly joining the rotation after signing a couple of 10-day contracts in January and having a positive impact on many games, most notably a 26 point outing against Phoenix and 24 points against Sacramento. Johnson was on the Heat's preseason and training camp roster, but did not survive final cuts. That proved to be a mistake as Andre Dawkins & Shannon Brown were quickly let go.
The 6'3" Johnson is a combo guard, a little undersized at his more natural SG position, but with enough ball-handling and passing chops to also play some point guard. A great leaper and a much improved shooter since his college days (37.5% from three this year), Tyler nonetheless hit the rookie wall and seemed to lose confidence in his offensive game as the year went on, shooting just 32.5% from the field and 25.0% from three in April.
On paper, Tyler seems to have just about every skill you'd want in a guard. Shooting, ball handling, passing, athleticism, and on-the-ball defense, but his slight build puts a cap on a lot of his skills and he himself has promised to work in the offseason at better finishing at the rim through contact. As of now, he's another solid, young developmental prospect Miami can allow to develop and his skills will fit in well in a more fast-paced Miami offense.