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Miami Heat version 3.0 finding early success in Summer League

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Has Dan Craig found the winning formula?

Surya Fernandez

With a perfect 3-0 start to Summer League, like last regular season's 3-0 beginning, the Miami Heat seem to be on track for developing the promising young talent on their squad. But this time around, coach Dan Craig has simplified the team's game plan so there is less confusion on what each player does on the court.

Last season, the guards would bring the ball to half-court and stop to assess the situation, which slowed down the pace and lead to indecision among the players. Some preferred a half-court game, while others wanted a fast pace. That led to mass confusion and the guys not knowing who was in charge or what to do next.

This summer, with Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow directing traffic, the game flow has been more decisive and natural, without the ball sticking in one place too long. Featuring a basic game plan that everyone understands, the Miami Heat have played at a faster pace and turned the ball over less than their opponents.

Lead by newcomers Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Willie Reed, the defense has gotten stops when most needed in crucial situations. Again simplicity is the key, because each individual knows where his teammate is and missed assignments are rare.

The 3-point shooting, or lack thereof, is a concern, but looking at other summer league teams, their 3-point percentages are not good either. Summer League, in general, does not have the elite long-shooters the parent squads feature. But 3-point shooting can be practiced on during August, September and October, with specialized coaching and video reviews, just like professional golfers constantly work to perfect their swing.

Craig vowed to have the team play at a faster pace than last year and he has accomplished the mission by making a cheat sheet for the players where they handle the rock with confidence and with decisiveness. There is no stopping the flow of the game to figure out what to do next.

With continued positive development of their younger players, the Heat could be enjoying a bright future.