The Miami Heat were able to acquire Victor Oladipo from the Houston Rockets at the NBA trade deadline and they’ve gone 2-1 with him since he has joined the starting lineup. After three games, we’ve got a very small sample size of what Oladipo can bring to the roster and we wanted to highlight some positive things.
So here are three takeaways after three games for Vic with the Heat.
#1 — Victor Oladipo allows the Heat offense to stabilize
I realize that Oladipo has not played well on the offensive end so far — he trusts that will come and his shot will settle and I do, too. But maybe you have noticed the rotation trend that Erik Spoelstra has been able to return to which mimics the Big 3 era. Just about halfway through the first and third quarters, Spo pulls Vic and Bam Adebayo for rest — allowing Jimmy Butler to remain and usually alongside Goran Dragic for playmaking, then Tyler Herro joins the mix a few minutes later.
Vic and Bam return near the end of the quarter allowing Butler to rest into the second/fourth quarters. This rotation trend keeps multiple threat options on the court at the same time and maximizes Oladipo’s chances to be the sole playmaker.
We all hated the Jimmy and Bam-less minutes this season because, although Herro is good, when the defense is focused on him, he isn’t a great option — especially surrounded by Andre Iguodala and Precious Achiuwa. This rotation will stabilize the Heat’s offense and the more he gets comfortable and learns to play alongside these other guys in the second unit, the better the Heat can maintain or further leads.
With Vic, the Heat have scored 112+ points in each of the games.
Offensively, Vic adds great depth to a talented backcourt, one that hasn’t seen Kendrick Nunn play in since Vic has taken the starting point guard position. You can see from his shot chart (for the season), that he enjoys getting to the paint — with less mid-range game than Jimmy.
#2 — Victor Oladipo let’s the Heat move away from zone
Because Miami lacked multiple solid on-ball perimeter defenders, the Heat have had to go zone plenty this season. Jimmy Butler and Trevor Ariza have taken plenty of challenges guarding perimeter players and with the addition of Oladipo, the Heat have been able to move away from the zone.
The zone will still be a valuable tool for the Heat moving forward, but they won’t need to rely on it. The first unit is able to switch every action, with their primary goal to not allow Duncan Robinson to be switch to be an on-ball defender. The Heat have mostly survived this and it allows Miami not to give up easy buckets from pick and roll action. Teams must beat them straight even, even a slight mismatch.
The zone can be a resource, and not a flotation device to save them.
#3 — Victor Oladipo plays different than any other player the Heat have on the roster
Vic’s primary goal is to get to the rim and score. Besides Jimmy Butler, Vic is the only player that has that complete mindset. He’s not finishing at a good clip right now — he’s got some turnover issues and just isn’t finishing — but I think it will come with some time.
Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic and even Tyler Herro have more comfort levels away from the rim. Dragic is at his best when he does get to the rim, but he seems to not be doing that anymore. Dragic’s decline is actually a bit more concerning than we have talked about — which makes the addition of Vic even more important.
Oladipo’s desire to get to the basket will play dividends for the Heat with him getting to the foul line and once he gets more comfortable with his teammates will also lead to more open looks for them.
As Pat Riley said, adding Vic allows Miami to have someone else on the roster than doesn’t make them so reliant on threes to win games. They still need Duncan and Tyler and others to make shots, but when Jimmy is out of the game, you have another person to suck the defense in.
This will get better — but we have seen it already.
What positive things have you see from Oladipo so far in his first three games?