Last year the Miami Heat's lack of scoring punch in the first 41 games undid the entire season. Scoring matters during the regular season, since a team can’t win a championship if they don't qualify for the playoffs.
The top 4 teams in the Eastern Conference last season were the same ones that scored the most points. Two relied on three-point shooting, while two focused on the old-time mid-range game. Regardless, they put a lot of points on the scoreboard.
The table below shows what percentage of points each team scored from their shot selection. In a game when the Miami Heat scores 102 points, 30 would come from 3-point shots, 57 from two-pointers and 15 from free throws, on average. Note: Rounded up because can’t score 29 points on 3-pt FGs.
Interestingly the top two teams in the standings, the Cavaliers and Celtics, both made less than half their points on 2-point shots, while at the same time scoring more than a third of their points from beyond the arc. The third and fourth teams relied on attacking the rim and drawing shooting fouls for a chance at an old-fashioned 3-point play. The Raptors got less than a quarter of their points from distance, but made up for it by getting 18% of their points from the free-throw line.
The Heat followed the old-school script by scoring 56.6% of their points from 2-point buckets, versus the conference average of 56.2%. One factor that sunk Miami’s success in getting more points was their failure at the free-throw line, where they converted only 14.8% of their attempts at the charity stripe, versus the 16.7% contribution rate for an average team.
The Heat scored almost 500 points less than the Cavaliers, and 300 points less than the fourth place Raptors. True the woeful Nets were fifth, but they were still at least 89 points behind any of the top four teams. In today’s NBA records show the top teams make a lot of buckets.
The major additions for the Heat this season are Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. We’ll see how Erik Spoelstra uses them to produce more points for the team. With a healthy squad to begin the season, who replaces Luke Babbitt in the starting lineup will indicate if Spo goes with offense or defense as a priority this time around..
Getting extra scoring production from long-range shots and the free-throw line seems to work, since both add extra points from a field-goal attempt. The first because of the three points instead of two points per made basket. The free-throw bonus comes from converting shooting fouls into actual points on the board. Only two Heat players had FT% above 80% last season, Okaro White and Wayne Ellington, with 90.9% and 86.0%, respectively.
Stats from basketball-reference.com