The Heat would love to add a potential star like [Lonzo] Ball or [Markelle] Fultz to the mix, but if they can’t, some scouts feel Bridges is the most underrated player in this class.
He’s strong, athletic and versatile with the ability to rebound and shoot the 3. He’d be a great long-term fit in Miami.
James Harden has a different notion of athleticism, per the Wall Street Journal article “James Harden’s Secret Talent Is Slowing Down.”
Athleticism, for me, is not being able to jump the highest or run the fastest. It’s being able to control it. If you’re not able to control it, you’re just a loose cannon. I’m athletic in my own way.
What he’s able to do is create separation for a clean look at the basket. Even Kobe Bryant emphasizes the most important part of scoring lies in preparing for a high-percentage opportunity. His shots fell in as a result of his careful planning for them before he even attempted one.
The first thing I want to do is try to create space.
I’m jabbing just to create space.
Kobe’s observation on overly active defenders:
He thinks he’s playing great defense. He thinks he’s got you now. The only thing left for him to do to make the highlight is to block the shot.
Michael Jordan doesn’t practice just shooting the ball, but first reading defenders and laying the groundwork for a score. The bucket the last step in the process.
Dion Waiters carefully prepares for his 3-point shots by creating separation. Notice versus the Hornets, on his last attempt, Waiters doesn’t catch-and-shoot, but swings his elbows to shake free from his defender for separation.
Whether the technique is through passing, setting screens, fast-break opportunities, or individual skills, the Miami Heat have managed to up their production to where they lead the NBA as the only team with a double-digit +11 figure in the +/- ranking since the All-Star break.
Miles Bridges may be athletically gifted, but dunking doesn’t display the ability create space for himself or his teammates the NBA demands.
The new NBA prizes creativity and a high basketball IQ, along with the raw athletic talent of youth. We’ll see how the Miami Heat respond to the new reality in the choices they make this summer.
The successes of James Johnson and Waiters might have other discontented free agents looking towards Miami as home and sign below market-value contracts. Who the Heat pick in the draft could be dictated by who returns from this year’s squad and who else will be available on trade or free-agent market.
Harden was a non-factor in 2012 versus the Heat due to his lack of experience. Draft picks spend their first few seasons learning how play versus grown men, instead of other college kids. Pat Riley takes into account that draftees, in general, won’t have a significant impact until they get a handle on the NBA games.
In Justise Winslow’s draft class Devin Booker has been an impact player since his second season, yet he was a 13th pick. Not the most athletic guy, Booker fits the model of today’s NBA rising stars. Perhaps Miami might luck out with an overlooked teenager, who doesn’t have an ultra-athletic prodile.
Drafting a loose cannon like Lance Stephenson wouldn’t look good, no matter how much hops he brings to the game.