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One way Josh Richardson could reignite the Miami Heat offense next season into the playoffs

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The Heat’s offense needs a fresh look this coming campaign, and Richardson may be a key ingredient.

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Miami Heat imploded at the end of last season, so a better approach than simply trying harder is needed to get back onto the winning track.

Josh Richardson shows a promising trend over his four seasons in Miami that may be exploited: improving number of assists per 100 possessions:

  • 2015 – 3.4 ast vs 1.6 tov = 2.1 ast/tov
  • 2016 – 4.4 ast vs 2.0 tov = 2.2 ast/tov
  • 2017 – 4.3 ast vs 2.6 tov = 1.7 ast/tov
  • 2018 – 5.7 ast vs 2.2 tov = 2.6 ast/tov

Last season Richardson displayed such an improved court awareness that he ranked sixth in ast/tov ratio among qualifying rivals (min 40 games, 24 min, 20% usage), and beat out Eric Bledsoe, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Ben Simmons in that one statistic.

PLAYER – AST/TOV

  1. Mike Conley – 3.45
  2. Chris Paul – 3.11
  3. Jimmy Butler – 2.77
  4. Kyrie Irving – 2.70
  5. Derrick Rose – 2.68
  6. Josh Richardson – 2.64

Experience has given Richardson the ability to better read defenses and beat double-teams to find an open teammate for a basket.

After all, Richardson doesn’t get an assist unless his receiver scores.

GOOD FINISHERS OF ASSISTS

Which receivers fared best well last season on the Heat?

Surprisingly Dion Waiters was the team’s premier spot-up shooter with an EFG% of 64.5%, which was good for sixth place in the NBA among 112 qualifying participants (greater than 150 FGA).

  • D.J. Augustin – 70.5%
  • Danny Green – 69.3%
  • Patty Mills – 67.9%
  • Bojan Bogdanovic – 65.1%
  • Paul George – 64.8%
  • Dion Waiters – 64.5%
  • Stephen Curry – 61.9% (11th place)
  • Justise Winslow – 56.4% (39th place)

As a note, a catch-and-shoot man shoots right away, while a spot-up guy may pump-fake or make a dribble first, but remains in the same spot.

Another twist to the puzzle comes from the fact that Derrick Jones Jr. was the top pick-and-roll man in the NBA at the rim, min 10 FGA, with 14 of 18 (78%) makes, best (12.5%) and-one rate, and low turnover frequency (4.2%).

Jones Jr. has great hands and timing, plus the elite speed to finish at the rim before a slow-footed defender arrives.

Richardson delivering the basketball to Waiters or Jones Jr. in a timely manner could be something he would excel at next season.

Regarding his attempt at isolation scoring, Richardson trailed far behind Kelly Olynyk (95% percentile) and Goran Dragic (92% percentile), who were in the top 10% of NBA iso-men.

TEAMWORK ESSENTIAL FOR HEAT’S SUCCESS

Richardson thrives best in a team environment where he and his teammates work together in a coordinated fashion, rather than being the focus of attention, i.e. leading man.

Richardson at 26 years old this upcoming season, plus Winslow at 23, Jones Jr. and Bam Adebayo at 22, even Waiters at 27, are young enough to implement a pass and shoot game that catches defenses leaving a man open for an efficient look.

Richardson’s growth in spotting open men, not necessarily dribbling the ball up the court, has quietly improved with experience and will only get better as he reaches the prime of his playing days.

The point man may initiate an action, but Richardson has a knack for becoming the middlemen who sets up the eventual scorer.