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Who should take the most fourth quarter attempts for the Miami Heat may be debatable

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Tracking fourth quarter numbers on the best shooters in crunch time situations reveals unexpected results for the Heat.

NBA: Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

A reader sent in a thoughtful comment to Ira Winderman on how the Miami Heat use Hassan Whiteside during the game.

”A big who has an offensive game should not be spending most of his time setting picks at the top of the key.”

Breaking out the ever trusty spreadsheet to massage the NBA stats numbers reveals using players, who convert 50% or more of their attempts in the fourth quarter to set screens for those averaging 45% or less, may not lead to winning games.

The most efficient players (2FG%) for the Heat during March, in the fourth quarter, were James Johnson at 79%, Rodney McGruder 73%, and Kelly Olynyk 72%.

The players with worst 2FG% in final quarters are Goran Dragic 32%, Wayne Ellington 33%, and Dwyane Wade 45%.

Miami Heat 4th quarter scoring

Dwyane Wade 48 41.7 45.2 16.7
Justise Winslow 46 54.3 60.0 43.8
Kelly Olynyk 40 57.5 72.2 45.5
Wayne Ellington 39 41.0 33.3 42.4
Josh Richardson 33 45.5 50.0 33.3
Goran Dragic 29 34.5 31.6 40.0
Rodney McGruder 18 66.7 72.7 57.1
James Johnson 17 76.5 78.6 66.7
Tyler Johnson 17 47.1 55.6 37.5

Not surprisingly Wade made the most attempts, but Justise Winslow ranking second wasn’t expected.

Whiteside didn’t have enough field goal attempts in fourth quarters to qualify for a meaningful sample, but out of his 6 FGA, he made 3 of them (50%).

Even during Slovenia’s march to the championship over the summer, Dragic performed at such a furious pace early on, that he tended to be gassed at the end of games, and the figures for March indicate that happens to him now also.

Getting back to the original comment after looking at the data, the question remains whether setting screens for inefficient players in the last 12 minutes is the best tactic on a regular basis.

The results for March show James Johnson, Olynyk and McGruder are the best finishers in 4th quarters, while Dragic and Wade have their dramatic moments, but not consistently.

Teams expect Wade, Dragic, or Ellington to take game-winning shots, and figures show they have devised ways to minimize damage by Miami’s premier offensive threats.