After two disappointing losses to the Chicago Bulls on opening night followed by the Boston Celtics in a rematch between the two Eastern Conference Finals foes, the Miami Heat rebounded and downed the Toronto Raptors in their third game in four nights, 112-109. The Heat led by 24 at one point, but a
third-and-long sack scuffle perpetuated by Caleb Martin fueled by a valiant Raptor second-half run made it interesting. But the Heat escaped with the three-point victory for its first of the 2022-23 season, and will conclude its four-game homestand with Toronto tonight.
Now that we’re through the first weekend of the 2022-23 season, let’s hand out some very early player grades and subsequently judge my grading skills. O.K., maybe not the last part — but let’s get it started!
(Note: We grade players who have appeared for at least 10 total minutes through the three games.)
Stats: 13.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 4.3 TOPG, 53.1 FG% (10.7 FGA), 77.8 FT%, 57.0 TS%, 9.1 PER
Skinny: Adebayo struggled to find any rhythm in the season-opener against Chicago, a team he’s had success against in the past, making just five of his 15 shot attempts after missing nine of his first 10. He’s been much more efficient since, however, knocking down 12 of his 17 shots. Adebayo has yet to eclipse the “18 shots per game” goal he set out on Media Day, but foul trouble has also factored in, at times, throughout these opening three games. He’s still played at least 30 minutes in each of the three games, though his substitution pattern has opened the floodgates for a handful of untimely runs — Miami’s completely fallen apart when he’s been off the floor. His first performance docks his grade slightly. And I believe Adebayo is capable of much more — he’ll likely see increases in all statistical categories as the year ages. Zero point zero reasons to be concerned.
Stats: 22.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 47.7 FG%, 1-2 3P, 85.2 FT% (9.0 FTA), 59.1 TS%, 21.3 PER
Skinny: He might not be playoff Jimmy Butler right now, but he’s still been Jimmy Butler-like!! He hasn’t necessarily asserted himself offensively quite yet, but that’s not always the Jimmy Butler regular season experience. When he has asserted himself, he’s gotten to the line, finished through defenders and shot the ball efficiently. Butler’s patented gamble-steals will come, but he’s still made an impact over the opening three games. I find it fascinating how his substitution pattern has given him run with the bench units, too, which will be something to monitor once Victor Oladipo returns.
Stats: 5.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 70.0 FG%, 1-2 3P, 75.0 TS%, 10.6 PER
Skinny: It’s still early, but the Dedmon bridge inbetween the Adebayo minutes has been...rugged. Teams have outscored Miami by 15.4 points per 100 possessions in his minutes. Not all of that should be pinned on Dedmon, clearly, but the 7-footer his occassional putbacks haven’t made up for his insignificant impact defensively. He’s averaged north of a dozen fouls per 48 minutes and has averaged the fewest rebounds on the team outside of Haywood Highsmith. Miami will need their Mechanic to be better with Yurtseven inactive, especially when Adebayo gets into foul trouble. His margin-for-error is small.
Stats: 20.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 38.9 3P%, 91.7 FT%, 62.9 TS%, 22.2 PER
Skinny: Herro has arguably the team’s top player through three games. He’s been its most potent bucket getter, averaging 20.7 points on 50/38.9/91.7 shooting splits, as well as crashing the glass and forming into a well-oiled secondary creator. Herro’s continuously made sound reads as a pick-and-roll ballhandler — fashioning 1.47 points per possession on such opportunities, third to only Luka Doncic and Jaylen Brown, per Synergy. He’s finishing through shot blockers with prestine touch and looking as confident as ever from all three levels. His only issue has come defensively, where he’s gotten picked on, but he’s occassionally dislodged the ball and positioned himself well on- and off-the-ball. The Boy Wonder has superseded expectations thus far.
Stats: 12.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 32.3 FG%, 31.6 3P% (6.3 3PA), 83.3 FT% (4.0 FTA), 49.6 TS%, 10.6 PER
Skinny: Lowry began the season looking like he was back to the Eastern Conference Finals, where he was playing on one hamstring. Though he’s looked considerably more aggressive and locked in on both ends over these last two games, averaging 17.0 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals. I’m still concerned about his point-of-attack defense — or lack thereof — but I’m not sure if we’re wholly able to expect a fleet of foot Kyle Lowry at 36-year-old anymore. He’ll still (attempting to) take charges and at least get up into defenders’ grill on the perimeter or in the post — it’s just a matter of how well he’s able to move. A slow start, but he’s rebounded well since.
Stats: 6.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 33.3 FG%, 16.7 3P%, 2-2 FT, 38.2 TS%, 8.5 PER
Skinny: Martin hasn’t been as involved much offensively as I — yes, me — expected through three games; when you’re playing a bulk of your minutes as the fifth option in a lineup that involves Butler, Lowry, Herro and Adebayo, his production is expected. So that’s me being naive or overly optimistic, which isn’t new. I’ll do it again if I think it’s deserved, too! Anywho, Martin’s poor efficiency will eventually positively regress to the mean. He’s not as physical or as active as Tucker on the glass, but he’s still pulling down over five boards a game. Though he’ll probably have shoulder more load with Miami’s lack of size around him. His integration into the starting five was always going to take time.
Stats: 4.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 55.6 FG%, 2-4 3P, 2-3 FT, 72.2 TS%, 18.5 PER
Skinny: Spoelstra is still configuring the rotation, so Robinson hasn’t gotten much run yet. For him, it’s all about opportunity. His shooting stroke looks smooth and he’s playing the most confident of his professional career with the rock in his hands. He’s not fouling as much, which will keep him on the floor if that continues to improve. Robinson’s also rebounding at a high rate on a per-minute basis (9.0 per 36). I’m interested how his rotation role will fluctuate over the next few weeks, if at all.
Stats: 14.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.7 BPG, 57.1 FG%, 47.1 3P% (5.7 3PA), 66.7 FT% (2.0 FTA), 71.8 TS%, 16.2 PER
Skinny: Strus has picked up right where he left off — both offensively and defensively — after his breakout season last year. He’s shooting 57.1 percent on 4.7 spot-up 3-point attempts so far — the sixth-best percentage leaguewide, behind only Bojan Bogdanovic, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, rookie Jake LaRavia, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Cedi Osman (min. 10 C&S 3PA) — and has been the team’s most effective bench scorer on a per-minute basis. He’s also improved his defensive disposition over time, too, which saw improvement at the tail-end of last year. I’ve been very impressed with Strus’ start.
Stats: 9.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 45.8 FG%, 36.4 3P% (3.7 3PA), 2-2 FT, 56.3 TS%, 7.6 PER
Skinny: Vincent was only featured for 16 minutes off the bench against Chicago, where he had twice as many turnovers (4) as points (2). Since, he’s averaged 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and three assists per game. Until Victor Oladipo returns, the Heat will need Vincent to be their top initator when Herro, Butler or Lowry aren’t on the floor. Vincent has closed out each of the last two games and has remained a sneaky dangerous two-way threat.