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How the Warriors could make the Miami Heat better

Miami Heat can learn from the shot selection of the Golden State Warriors, up to a point.

Golden State Warriors v Miami Heat Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Let’s be clear about this from the start: the Miami Heat don’t have the talent level close to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, nobody in the NBA does. Of course with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and company, pretty much any game plan succeeds for them

At look at their shot selection reveals a preference for plays using constant movement, e.g. transition, screens, cuts. With Curry, et al, available as elite marksmen, their spot-up play remains the primary option, though all their top four plays feature a PPP (Points Per Possession) of greater than one.

Warriors Playtypes

TYPE FGM FGA FG% PPP
TYPE FGM FGA FG% PPP
Spot Up 566 1352 41.9% 1.10
Transition 740 1308 56.6% 1.21
Off Screen 467 1045 44.7% 1.04
Cut 635 908 69.9% 1.33
PnR Handler 329 734 44.8% 0.88
Isolation 183 438 41.8% 0.94
Post Up 142 327 43.4% 0.78
Misc 157 317 49.5% 1.01
Putbacks 157 317 49.5% 0.52
PnR Roll 133 282 47.2% 0.94
Hand Off 99 229 43.2% 0.97
TOTAL 3608 7257 49.7% 0.97

The video below shows the Warriors rely on moving the basketball up the court for high-percentage conversions far more than fans realize.

Another video shows their great spacing and recognition by the ball handler, leading to an insane 70% FG% on cuts. In addition that leads to a PPP of 1.33 because of and-one bonus points on shooting fouls.

The only types of field goal attempts that Miami tried over 1,000 times last season, both had a PPP of less than 1.0.

Miami Heat Playtypes

TYPE FGM FGA FG% PPP
TYPE FGM FGA FG% PPP
Spot Up 650 1741 37.3% 0.97
PnR Handler 511 1224 41.7% 0.81
Transition 484 897 54.0% 1.13
Cut 328 526 62.4% 1.18
Isolation 204 514 39.7% 0.85
Misc 264 445 59.3% 1.13
Hand Off 171 432 39.6% 0.88
PnR Roll 208 409 50.9% 1.06
Off Screen 168 368 45.7% 1.04
Post Up 155 339 45.7% 0.83
Putbacks 54 133 40.6% 0.53
TOTAL 3197 7028 45.5% 0.95

The Heat in the second half of last season had success in converting spot-up 3-point shots After that play, the combination of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside naturally leads to the pick and roll as their other main choice, even though the ball handler converted at an inefficient rate of 42% eFG% and PPP of 0.81.

Miami’s transition and cut plays last season converted much better at 1.13 PPP and 1.18 PPP, respectively, though the Heat used them far fewer times than the Warriors: a total of 930 less FGAs, or on average, 11 per game. One of the reasons comes from the fact that the Warriors lead the league in converting their attempts within 5 feet of the rim (66%).

The Heat percentage isn’t terrible at 61%, but certain players struggle to finish their bunny baskets. The addition of Kelly Olynyk should help, as well as giving Wayne Ellington, with his 82% FG% figure, far more opportunities to score at close range.

Less than 5 feet

PLAYER FGM FGA FG%
PLAYER FGM FGA FG%
Wayne Ellington 23 28 82.1
Kelly Olynyk 151 211 71.6
Hassan Whiteside 372 556 66.9
Rodney McGruder 77 118 65.3
James Johnson 190 310 61.3
Goran Dragic 218 362 60.2
Tyler Johnson 137 245 55.9
Jordan Mickey 13 25 52.0
Josh Richardson 52 101 51.5
Okaro White 16 32 50.0
Dion Waiters 123 250 49.2
Justise Winslow 43 91 47.3
TOTAL 1415 2329 60.8%

This season the addition of mobile big men, such as Bam Adebayo and Olynyk, gives Miami the personnel to run the floor, and reduce their over-dependence on the inefficient pick & role set. None of the Warriors’ four most-used plays (all with a PPP greater than one) included the pick & role. Matter of fact it was their fifth option during a game.

Golden State deliberately focuses on converting possessions into one point or better. For the Heat to use the high PPP plays, like transitions and cuts, successfully, the players need to up their efficiency in converting easy opportunities at the rim. Part of that could come from what’s happening in Europe.

The success of Goran Dragic in mentoring Slovenia’s teenage sensation Luka Doncic, may translate to an increased role in helping Adebayo and other Heat young ones achieve stardom. Goran’s experience this summer provides him lessons in leadership and motivation. Miami’s back court duo learning from the success of the Warriors’ play types, may take Miami further than forecasters predicted this season.