With Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson sidelined, the Miami Heat have somehow managed to string together their longest winning streak of the season.
Perhaps the young guns were not quite seasoned enough to master all the nuances of performing in leadership roles at the professional level. Handing the reigns over to Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters and James Johnson seems to have calmed Hassan Whiteside down to doing what he does best: acting as Robin to their Batman.
In the three wins, per 36 minutes,
- James Johnson 5.9
- Goran Dragic 5.3
- Rodney McGruder 3.7
- Dion Waiters 3.5
- Luke Babbitt +16
- Wayne Ellington +11
- Hassan Whiteside +9
- Dion Waiters +8
- Goran Dragic +5
- Goran Dragic 57%
- Dion Waiters 50%
- Rodney McGruder 50%
- Tyler Johnson 50%.
Having a scoring backcourt of Waiters, Dragic and Tyler Johnson, to go along with a strong defensive frontcourt of Whiteside, James Johnson, Babbitt (??), McGruder and Okaro White, seems to work. (Notably, Miami is 3-0 since White got called up.)
Even Dwyane Wade needed Shaquille O'Neal’s leadership guidance in 2006 to win a championship. While high draft picks sound appealing, stars such as Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins haven't reached the NBA Finals yet, due to the lack of quality support on their rosters.
Perhaps the Heat were a bit premature in handing the reigns over to the sophomores, with only a single year’s experience under their belt, this season.
Miami has been fun to watch the last three games, with their aggressive and quick moves around the basket catching their opponents sleeping.
Clean it up JJ! pic.twitter.com/eolJMUqOqL— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 22, 2017
We're making sure Luke gets the assist for this one ⬆️ pic.twitter.com/Rl8OPKyGvM— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 22, 2017
The switching on defensive coverage is timely keeping open looks to a minimum. Getting around and through screens is an art which very few players master at an elite level.
The ball-handling between team members seems crisp: the ball moves with a definite purpose, flow and confidence.
The shooting stroke has become more confident as the players know exactly where the best spots on the court are. They seem more comfortable in their roles.
The Heat may have just yet found their groove.