The Miami Heat signed Wayne Ellington as a 3-point specialist, but have seen him perform basketball magic in numerous other ways. Ellington’s style isn’t setting up pick-and-roll sets, but a slashing, cutting one that finds open teammates for easy baskets.
He doesn’t dribble down the court patiently working his way into the post with his back to the basket. These clips from his Los Angeles Lakers days show he can spot teammates on cuts, score in transition, hit 3-pointers, and more.
You can see he doesn’t hold on to ball for long. He either shots, goes to the basket, or finds an open teammate in seven seconds or less. That’s a different playbook than the typical Dwyane Wade half-court sets, which the Heat have used for over a decade.
Ellington can be a play maker, but one whose many facets are an acquired taste. What the change of pace, with him on the court, does is confuse other teams used to Miami running its predictable play book. We saw that in the later part of the Milwaukee Bucks first quarter. They were not prepared for what happened when Goran Dragic took a breather.
Coach Erik Spoelstra can mix up the Heat’s looks with either a slow pace, a small ball approach, a traditional center game, a modified zone look, a fast-paced cutting offense, etc. NBA teams are very, very smart, and figure out coverages on the fly. Mixing up the calls keeps them honest.
Ellington’s style brings another dimension to how the Heat can break down other team’s defenses with his play-making abilities. When everyone expects Wayne to zig, he zags.