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How can the Miami Heat free Josh Richardson to become a monster on offense?

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Richardson excels in one overlooked aspect of the game when on offense.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Richardson of the Miami Heat leads the NBA in one obscure number on offense – taking wide-open shots.

Among the 62 NBA players who attempted 60 more uncontested shots Richardson is first in EFG% and 3P%.

However as he goes into attack mode, when defenders challenge his 2-point attempts at closer quarters, the success rate drops to an abysmal 22%.

Josh Richardson Defender Distance

Defender EFG% 2FG% 3P%
Defender EFG% 2FG% 3P%
6+ Feet 80.6 57.1 58.3
4-6 Ft 52.6 51.1 35.7
2-4 Ft 42.6 44.5 21.7
0-2 Ft 29.0 22.2 50.0

The best Heat players against very tight defenders (0-2 feet), Hassan Whiteside (55%), Kelly Olynyk (55%), Bam Adebayo (54%), Rodney McGruder (52%), Dwyane Wade (48%), still convert only about half of their attempts when closely guarded.

Miami Heat FG% versus very tight coverage

PLAYER 2FM 2FA FG%
PLAYER 2FM 2FA FG%
Hassan Whiteside 26 47 55.3
Kelly Olynyk 6 11 54.5
Bam Adebayo 14 26 53.8
Rodney McGruder 13 25 52.0
Dwyane Wade 12 25 48.0
Goran Dragic 9 24 37.5
Justise Winslow 6 19 31.6
Josh Richardson 6 27 22.2

The chances of depending on a single basket to win a game is iffy at best, and more often than not doesn’t work, as the Miami’s record this season shows.

Over the years Richardson’s 2P% against very-tight coverage has declined as teams gradually put their best defenders on him: 2015-16, 60%; 2016-17, 42%; 2017-18, 40% (team lowest); 2018-19, 22% (team lowest).

Perhaps instead of attacking, Richardson should go into a freedom mode where he can escape defenders to get the wide-open shots he’s so good at converting.

Especially now with Dragic sidelined, opponents double-down on coverage against Heat guards, such as Richardson and McGruder.

Given the fact teams switch their top defenders onto JRich, that gives Miami Heat’s other players opportunities to go against weaker defenders.

Justise Winslow has revealing Net Rating numbers on starting versus coming off the bench.

As a starter he has a NetRtg of -10, while off the bench the NetRtg jumps to a team-high +14, or in other words he has problems versus top-tier players in the NBA.

The Utah Jazz have a game plan against the Heat’s players based on recent Miami’s recent actions, and they will assign their best defenders to guard the Heat’s greatest threats, such as Richardson and Wayne Ellington.

That strategy leads to find which Heat player can take advantage of the Jazz’s worst defenders at any given time, but Utah is ready for that angle also.

The mind games between the head coaches make NBA games fascinating as each one moves and counter-moves during the game.