The addition of Jimmy Butler made the Miami Heat a fearless team this season. He’s not the only Heat player who won’t back down from a challenge. Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and recently Meyers Leonard don’t hesitate when confronted by opponents.
While under the radar the Heat’s development team, Sioux Falls Skyforce, have shown the same moxie when fighting for their right to the basketball. This video clip shows KZ Okpala, Marcus Lee and Mychal Mulder take it to the Santa Cruz Warriors.
In the first sequence Okpala goes to the cup, misses, gets the rebound among three defenders, and takes on an opponent right in his face. He’s not the same player from last summer. Next Lee slams the ball home in a crowd. Then Mulder has the hops to elevate against a hard contest. Lastly Okpala sees the open man before the Warriors do. His calling the play just as he releases his pass shows improved court awareness.
With the trade deadline this Thursday, Miami’s front office has to carefully consider its game plan. Whether to follow the promise of continued growth with Adebayo, Herro, Nunn, Robinson, or to trade for overpriced veterans. Remember other teams are willing to deal away their talent for a reason.
Fearless. If the enemy runs Heat shooters off the 3-point line, Miami players go to the rack: Robinson 44% 3P%, 62% 2P%; Leonard 43% 3P%, 63% 2P%; James Johnson 36% 3P%, 55% 2P%; Kelly Olynyk 40% 3P%, 54% 2P%. A 6’7” 220 lb Robinson, a 7’0” 260 lb Leonard, 6’7” 240 lb James Johnson, 6’11” 240 lb Olynyk would collapse defenders at the rim giving Miami a brief 4 on 3 advantage on the court. As Leonard says,
”Teams really just got to kind of pick their poison,” he said. “Put a five on Bam? Good luck. He’s a playmaker. He’s getting behind the defense. He’s making passes and getting other guys involved and scoring the ball. Put the five on me? Good luck.”
Dion Waiters seems to have problems when he’s run off the line: 47% 3P% and 22% 2P% (2 of 9). Years ago he injured his ankle going to rim. Whatever the reason, the ability to finish in traffic by Waiters would deter defenders from parking themselves at the 3-point line when he’s in the game.
The Skyforce embrace the same fearless attitude as the Heat, where other teams know they will go at the enemy from beyond the arc or through contact at the rim: that’s Heat Culture in action. Jimmy Butler developed scoring through contact into an art form. Seems like the younger ones are catching on to the possibilities of taking what opponents give them.
In addition, winners love winners. Going from no All-Stars last season (Dwyane Wade was honorary) to two this season could have free agents thinking. Could the Heat make them All-Stars? Could Miami have the secret to develop Rising Stars? NBA players are watching.