The Samsung NBA Summer League begins in early July in Orlando followed by the Las Vegas tournament soon after.
While the big boys open training camp in October, Summer League offers a chance for the Heat to work out rookies and undrafted free agents under the careful eye of Heat coaches and talent scouts. Another Tyler Johnson or Hassan Whiteside could be hidden there.
In 2014, the Heat's Las Vegas and Orlando teams scored over 100 points only once, as the coaches worked to teach the Heat prospects how to play defense the Heat way. That mantra carried over into the regular season, where the Heat allowed fewer points per game (7th best in league) than the Warriors or Cavaliers, but forgot how to score (4th worse in the NBA). This summer the Heat could focus on scoring at least 100 points per game, mainly through 3-point shooting, to up their pace.
Lobs and dunks shouldn't be encouraged, because it would take away from the Heat's quest for 3-point shooters. Second-year men Shabazz Napier, Johnson, and James Ennis have 3-point potential that could be sharpened with volume shooting until they can achieve the 40% made benchmark. The Heat will get a chance to see their 10th and 40th draft picks in game situations at a professional level. Andre Dawkins could be reevaluated because of his 3-point shooting promise.
Since summer league starts after the NBA draft, undrafted players could get a chance to showcase their shooting talents to the Heat staff. Also there will be over a hundred other unsigned players from other teams trying to make it in the NBA. This is a chance to evaluate their work ethic and emotional maturity, because those intangibles count as much as raw physical ability.
Performing due diligence on hundreds of prospects, just to find one or two bona-fide NBA-level players, may be an expensive and lengthy process, but it's cheaper than signing a $2,000,000 dud to a contract that uses up cap space.
Depending if the Summer League tournaments produce a new player worthy of a spot on the team, the Heat will have a better read on trades and other roster changes during August and September.
The common denominators for the Spurs in 2014 and the Warriors in 2015 were:
- No max players
- Quality second unit
- Best coaches in the NBA
- Minimal injuries
- Won the war of attrition
The Clippers gained fame as "Lob City," but today's NBA champions win through lights-out jump shooting and perimeter defense. The Summer League is a first step to find the shooters the Heat desperately seek.
The coaching staff could challenge raw prospects by saying to them, "Prove to us you're a NBA-level three-point threat." Those who do rise up to the occasion, would get an invite to the pre-season camp in October. It's a gamble worth taking.