Once again Erik Spoelstra has to take his place at the card table as the dealer in reshuffling the Miami Heat cards for his players. What hand will he deal out after the Rodney McGruder injury?
Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, and Hassan Whiteside demand the ball in their hands during the game. The wings need to be spacers and cutters working off those high-usage players.and Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington fit the bill to complement the aforementioned three. They converted a team best 80% and 75% FG%, respectively, in post touches (not post-ups) for the Heat last season,
Ellington excels at working off the ball to space the floor with long-range shots and cuts to the basket. In the video below Whiteside gives a nice dish to Ellington for 3 points, instead of settling for 2 points at the rim, i.e. he produced an extra point for the Heat.
Winslow provides the defense Ellington lacks, while deftly setting up Dragic and Waiters for spot-up 3-pointers. Last season some of the best marksman from downtown 3’s were Dragic, Waiters and Ellington.
Due to his build Winslow was always miscast as a dunker, but his passing instincts are impeccable. A pass isn't just a pass: it has to arrive at the correct milli-second when the shooter is ready to launch his attempt. A second too soon or too early, throws the timing off so he can't get his shot off in rhythm, and ball clanks off the rim.
Winslow senses the optimal time for the player to get the ball for a high-percentage make. Justise has to work his handle though, so Kelly Oubre Jr. doesn't steal the ball from him.
A starting five of Dragic (PG), Ellington(SG), Waiters (SF), Winslow (PF), Whiteside (C), gives an opportunity for other players to get more touches and minutes, than if they were relegated to work alongside Dragic, Waiters, and Whiteside.
Josh Richardson would seem like a natural at the wing, but he wouldn't get the touches he needs with the starters to develop his game. Richardson eventually will be an All-Star, once he can showcase his talents with a lot of minutes.
Nobody wants to break up The Brothers Johnson tandem that crushes the competition, when they are on the floor. As Zach Lowe wrote, the Heat depend on relentlessly pressuring other teams for 48 minutes.
Miami doesn't have first and second units, but alternative units. Whichever 5 players are on the court wear down even the more talented teams, until fatigue becomes the Heat’s sixth man on the court. As Stephen Curry said in the article, "The Charcuterie Board That Revolutionized Basketball,"
"The main goal is to just make the defense make as many decisions as you can so that they're going to mess up at some point with all that ball movement and body movement and whatnot. But it took awhile for us to kind of get the understanding of where each other was going to be without having to call a set play or whatnot. So it took awhile."
So the Golden State Warriors do not practice set plays, but spacing. They probe defenses for a breakdown, aka "mess up," and then swoop in for an easy 2 or 3 points. Heat did that when the Washington Wizards defense left Jordan Mickey open for a game-winning basket.