When the Miami Heat had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the supporting cast rightfully took a backseat to the “Big 3.”
Now what’s left after their departure is collection of odds and ends whose only common characteristic is the Heat name on the front of the team’s jerseys.
In the weeks leading up to the draft and free agency the front office’s audit of last season’s inventory will attempt to turn a ship floating aimlessly at sea into a high-powered Miami cigarette boat.
While the Miami Vice tv show glamorized fast boats and cars, the Heat team on the Vice basketball court failed to live up to the show’s non-stop action on the screen.
The concept of multiple ball handlers sounds good in theory, but in real life that approach sows chaos on the court where strong leadership is needed to pull a team together.
The upcoming draft gets the headline, but behind the scenes a 4-step game plan might be in the works to give the team a coherent structure off and on the court.
- Identify players who are willing to embrace winning as the main thing.
- Get or develop an undisputed alpha who won’t tolerate anything less than the best.
- Ace the draft with a player who can thrive and blossom in Heat Culture.
- Get the best un-drafted players for two-way deals in an organized fashion.
The last point is often overlooked, but after the draft process is over all the NBA teams will be on the phone to sign the best remaining players for Summer League and possible two-way contracts.
Towards that end among the three players (Brandon Clarke, Tyler Herro, Matt Mooney) reportedly working out for Miami, the last one seems like a candidate for development.
Mooney looks like Shane Battier, and fits his team-first style of play.
Someone said this about him among an extensive list of comments in a thread:
“Athleticism and size for his primary position which is currently not PG. Mooney is small and not very quick or explosive. Techs help defense really covered for Mooney if he was ever beat off the bounce, so its hard to full evaluate whether he’d be a liability against a court full of elite athletes. He’d be a 6’3 wing 3 and D prospect. Although he is long -which obviously compensates to some degree- he is competing against the “mold” of super athletic 6’5+ guys with the same or greater wingspan.”
“As I said I think that he has enough athleticism, rare mental talent to be a great defender with the potential to become an elite pro shooter with NBA IQ. But Mooneys profile is not one that normally gets you drafted. I think he is a very unique player and that may scare off some GM’s, looking to trim down the list of targets.”
Mooney’s garnered several awards in his lone season at Texas Tech.
- Big 12 All-Defense team
- Big 12 steal percentage leader, 3.5
- NCAA Defensive win shares, 4th place (3.1, tied with Matisse Thybulle)
- NCAA All-Tournement
He gained notoriety under the pressure of the national spotlight on the NCAA stage.
“The Red Raider guard turned heads in the Final Four when he lit up Michigan State for 22 points on 50% shooting. This was the game that he believed got him to this opportunity. “Even though I had a solid regular season at Tech, I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that performance in the Final Four,” Mooney stated.”
His off-court choices display his maturity and high character.
“Mooney recently signed with Octagon Sports Agency, which also represents NBA players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, and Trae Young.”
“Currently, Matt, along with a group of fellow draft hopefuls, is being trained by NBA trainer, Phil Beckner in Phoenix, Arizona. Beckner is best known to be Portland Trail Blazers’ all-star guard Damian Lillard’s, main trainer. Mooney and the others have multiple workouts a day and learn firsthand what it takes from a training standpoint to make it to the league.”
Selecting the same shooting coach as Dame shows Mooney won’t settle for the easy road to success [bold emphasis mine].
“Over the years, Beckner prodded Lillard’s perfectionist tendencies by demanding what the two call “high-quality makes.” If Lillard’s shot hit the rim before going in or if his body mechanics were off, the shots wouldn’t count. During an average day early in his pro career, Lillard would sink 700 or more “high-quality” makes during twice-daily sessions.”
“Lillard has worked with Beckner for a decade, and he hired the former Boise State associate head coach last summer as his full-time adviser. Beckner tracks all of Lillard’s three-point attempts during the season, grading each on a numbered scale based on factors such as degree of difficulty, mechanics and the time/score situation.”
Lillard’s “logo-shots” came from a commitment to a well-defined purpose.
“In fact, Lillard’s shot was the culmination of 12 months of intense and purposeful work with Phil Beckner, his longtime player development trainer, and Ben Kenyon, the Blazers’ sports performance coach. The three men decided at the beginning of last summer that extending Lillard’s range was their off-season priority. The goals were simple: to give Lillard a weapon that could stretch opposing defenses past the breaking point, and to prepare Lillard’s mind, body and shooting stroke for a moment just like the closing seconds of Game 5.”
“Those situations are handled way before the time comes,” Lillard said. “In the summer, when you truly prepare yourself with training and conditioning. When you cheat yourself, you fail in those moments and crash. When you really put the time in, it always comes to light.”
To paraphrase Lillard’s emphasis on preparation: the roster situation needs handling before the curtain rises in October and injuries start to mount.
The days of recreating the 30-11 finish and Wade’s “Last Dance” have passed, so now the front office has a better grasp of realistic expectations on each player’s contribution to the team.
While Mooney probably won’t be part of the plan, Pat Riley and his brain trust may find ways to move the chairs for a winning combination in Miami.