The Miami Heat have had a Jae Crowder-sized hole in their rotation ever since the versatile forward signed with the Phoenix Suns last off-season. The Moe Harkless signing turned into a disaster, KZ Okpala wasn’t ready and Andre Iguodala was too old for the role.
Going into this season, the Heat hope that P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris can together replicate Crowder’s production from the NBA Bubble — a player who can guard up, easily switch on defense and knock down 3s at a respectable clip.
Speaking to reporters, though, Tucker said that he isn’t “trying to fill what Jae did.” The following is an excerpt from a story by Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.
“Jae was Jae,” Tucker said. “I mean, Jae did what he did here. I’m a different player. I’m not Jae. I’m not trying to fill what Jae did. I’m trying to create what I do and bring my uniqueness to this team and build that. I feel like we had another team when Jae was here and guys have grown. Tyler [Herro] has grown, Duncan [Robinson] has grown, and everybody that was here before. I feel like it’s just another team and we’re different people.”
Morris added: “I’m versatile. I can do a lot more than I’ve shown in my last couple years just because that hasn’t been my role.”
First off, it’s noteworthy that Tucker said “we had another team when Jae was here” — Tucker himself wasn’t on the Heat. But maybe that has something to do with the fact that Erik Spoelstra said Tucker “screams Miami Heat culture.”
Tucker attempted just 1.7 3-pointers in 20 regular season games with the Milwaukee Bucks last year. That ticked up to 2.6 attempts from distance in the Bucks’ championship run.By contrast, Crowder attempted 6.4 3s in 20 regular season games with Miami during the 2019-20 season. That went up to 7.7 attempts in the playoffs.
The Heat encourage their players to take open 3s, so Tucker should go back to his days of hoisting around four 3s per game, as he did under coach Mike D’Antoni with the Houston Rockets. He probably won’t attempt them as freely as Crowder did, though.
He may not be Crowder, but Tucker can still form a great duo with Bam Adebayo. The veteran said that he and Adebayo “talked the most today, getting on the same page.”