In the summer of 2015 much was written about new additions Gerald Green and Amar'e Stoudemire, yet second-round draft pick Josh Richardson proved to be a vital piece in the Heat getting a third-place seed. Lost among the constant buzz this season about Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Richardson is Willie Reed, whose passion to be part of Heat rotation was displayed by joining the organization on their terms,
"I wanted to be able to come to the Heat. I told my agent that if I was able to get a deal with the Heat that I would take it just because of what they did for me and how excited I was about being able to grow in that process."
Last season with the Brooklyn Nets he was their most productive player in several categories,
"He led all Brooklyn players in net rating (+8), offensive rating (116), true shooting percentage (57.9 percent), field goal percentage (57.1 percent), block percentage (5.7 percent) and win shares per 48 minutes (.134). He finished second on the team in PER (19.2), total rebound percentage (16.1 percent) and offensive rebound percentage (12.7 percent)."
Reed is hard at work this summer to make the most of his opportunity, and values bonding with fellow Heat players.
.@ShowtimeReed33's getting stronger today! pic.twitter.com/pql9LSpRUT— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 9, 2016
His work ethic is unquestioned as is his energy and hustle around the basket. Including forwards such as Winslow, Josh McRoberts, Derrick Williams and James Johnson, the Heat are set to dominate the boards with their athleticism and physicality.
A word of caution though, this fail of Reed versus Rudy Gobert shows teamwork beats iso-effort in the NBA.
Trying to score against Gobert, while surrounded by four other Jazz players, usually isn't a good idea during a game. That problem can't be fixed practising in the gym perfecting shooting or crossover skills, but needs the help of the Heat coaching staff in developing throwing pinpoint passes.
Studying the art of passing by Kevin Love gives an idea of what Heat's big men can do moving the ball with accuracy, instead of being rejected at the rim by NBA's premier shot-blockers.
Love's gift indirectly stem's from Wes Unseld's legacy, "The roots of Love’s ability to throw the ball 75 feet down the court, with precision and velocity, can be traced to his father, Stan Love, and specifically to the two seasons that Stan Love spent playing alongside Unseld with the Baltimore Bullets in the early 1970s."
"Before he could even shoot the ball with good form, Love learned as a child how to throw a solid outlet pass, he said. It was inside knowledge passed down from his father, who would tape targets on walls so that Kevin could throw chest pass after chest pass. He also did exercises designed to strengthen his hands and wrists, the effects of which have lingered."
"Strong, strong hands," said Rob McClanaghan, Love’s trainer. "I think that’s a major key here. He was doing fingertip push-ups with his dad going back to his youth days."
"Like Unseld, Love favors throwing outlet passes with two hands. A one-handed baseball pass can go off target in a hurry. In addition, Love said, it requires a long windup, which can give opponents an extra half-beat to recover and defend down-court. But by throwing the ball with two hands, from his chest, Love reduces the likelihood that they will intercept the pass."
When the ball moves, good things happen. Heat are blessed to have several talented forwards and centers who can snatch rebounds in Whiteside, Chris Bosh (if available), Udonis Haslem (in limited minutes), James Johnson, Williams, Reed, Winslow, McRoberts, Luke Babbitt, with Stefan Jankovic and Okaro White as possibilities.
Reed isn't the only one to fall into the trap of hero ball in the NBA, as the Brooklyn staff failed teaching him properly in the art of passing out of the paint to open receivers on the court, i.e. inside-out basketball. He already has the physical tools and work ethic to make a positive contribution on the floor. Going to the next level involves learning the principles of mastering how to make his team-mates better by not becoming a "black-hole" in the painted area.