Wayne Ellington isn’t only paying attention to the threes he’s shooting on the court this season.
He’s focusing on the "Three" he has off of it – his baby boy, Wayne Ellington III.
"I’ve been trying to spend time with him and at the same time keep on putting in the work and trying to get better," Ellington said. "It’s tough because you want to be there for everything with him."
In the six months since his son and first child that he sometimes calls ‘Three’ was born, Ellington has been balancing fatherhood with increased expectations entering the upcoming season.
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Ellington was the Heat’s top three-point shooter last season, and is coming off a career-best scoring year in which he averaged 10.5 points per game and averaged a career-high 2.4 three-pointers made per game.
His role of a reserve sharp-shooter that could convert on kick-out passes from driving guards Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters was a great compliment to the Heat’s offense especially during its remarkable 30-11 second half run.
So much so that the Heat cleared cap space this offseason (they traded Josh McRoberts and a future second-rounder to Dallas) to pick up Ellington’s $6.27 million option for a second season.
Through four preseason games this year, however, Ellington has not found his stroke yet.
He’s gone 7 of 33 from the field and is 4-for-24 from three-point range.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is confident Ellington will find his rhythm when the real games begin.
"He’s ignitable," Spoelstra said. "I play the odds on that. There’s going to be a game where he goes 8-for-10. Watch, he will. He’s a great shooter and he practices those shots that he takes."
Ellington only played six minutes in Monday night’s 109-106 win over the Hornets, but Spoelstra said that was a byproduct of the team experimenting with different lineups and rotations.
If anything, Spoelstra said he wanted to see him have more attempts in the Heat’s prior preseason game against the Magic this past Saturday when Ellington went 2 for 13 from the field.
"I want him to shoot more," Spoelstra said. "The only thing I told him after Orlando is I hoped he would have taken 12 threes. Those were great looks."
Entering his ninth year in the NBA, Ellington is playing with the same team in consecutive seasons for the first time since he played his first three years in the league with the Timberwolves.
Since then, the 29-year old Ellington went year-to-year playing on five teams (Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Lakers and Nets) until signing with the Heat in the summer of 2016.
Ellington, a quick 6-5 shooting guard ranked third on the team a year ago in plus/minus (+90) and said he is close to reaching his goal of entering the season weighing about 195 pounds and lowering his body fat to about six percent.
Ellington’s 6.4 points per game on catch-and-shoot attempts ranked 17th in the NBA last season, and he ranked 26th in the league in three-pointers made (149). This made the Heat’s offense more explosive as it ranked No. 1 in drive-and-kick passes (passes from the paint to a shooter) per 100 possessions.
Ellington helped the Heat shoulder the load when injuries struck last season.
But with Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Tyler Johnson all competing for increased minutes Ellington hopes to make the most of his opportunities when called upon and return to form once the regular season begins.
"I’m not concerned about it," Ellington said. "Obviously, I want to make all of them, but I put in a lot of hours in the offseason. I know at the end of the day when it’s time to go, I’ll be ready."