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Reflecting on Wayne Ellington’s career year

Wayne Ellington was essential for the Heat last season, we analyze why.

NBA: New York Knicks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For nine seasons Wayne Ellington was the definition of a journeyman. He'd played for the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies, the Mavericks, the Lakers, the Cavs and the Nets. Even so, after a career year in Miami last season, it seems Ellington has found a long-term home.

Though it flew under the radar, Miami's choice to re-sign Ellington will pay dividends. "The Man with the Golden" arm proved that he was a key component of the Heat last season. Ellington averaged 10.5 points, 2.1 rebounds while shooting 37% from beyond the arc. He was also huge for the Heat in the final stretch of the season.

Ellington, was also very happy about returning saying:

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It was my first time returning to a team since my second or third year in the NBA. It means a heck of a lot to me that the team wanted me back and obviously Andy (Elisburg) did some amazing things to be able to fit everything in."

Ellington succeeds because he is different from most shooters. Taking for example a couple of games in March, this becomes evident.

Unlike most shooters, Ellington doesn't wait around for a play to unfold. Instead, he continues to move even when a play gets stuck. This creates more openings, and for him often leads to more buckets.

This is obvious in two instances below. With James Johnson, Ellington adds an extra cut to get open and behind the three point line. In the offensive set with Tyler, he jukes in the key multiple times before cutting to the wing. Other shooters would have waited for a pass in the corner.

A lot of shooters will take a shot as soon as they're open. They position themselves past the defense and as soon as the ball touches their fingers it's gone. While this works for a lot of shooters, it often results in midrange buckets. Ellington instead, has a great habit of making sure all his shots come from beyond the arc.

Take for example this game against Indiana in March. As the play unfolds and Tyler Johnson scrambles, Ellington gets himself open. When he gets the pass, instead of shooting right away he makes sure his shot is a three point attempt.

Ellington also explodes into his shots. Like JJ Redick he is able to come off of screens in control, but Ellington does so incredibly quick. Where others wouldn't have enough balance to shoot the shot, Ellington does. Also by moving so quick he leaves his defenders in the dust.

Ellington works well for this Heat team. He has good chemistry with everybody, and is a reliable three point option. While he won’t light up the whole stat sheet, his ability to score in bunches is phenomenal.

If Ellington is able to sustain the ability he played with at the end of last season, he will be a force to be reckoned with come October.