Pat Riley loves how Dwyane Wade played all season — and the way Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson played after the All-Star break but he wants to see more from each of those guards — skill development from Dragic and Richardson, and sustained durability from Wade.
Riley’s comments this week were most pointed about Dragic, who reported to camp out of shape last October but vows he wont do that again.
Dragic will begin training with the Slovenian National Team on Aug. 1, and the Heat will send at least one coach there to work with him.
“Last year, he talked about how crazy it was — the trade, his wife was pregnant, couldn’t find a house, went back (to Europe), Riley said. It was really unsettling. Now he’s settled.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I said, ‘You can’t use that excuse next year. That’s over.’ We already gave you the ‘I wasn’t settled; I wasn’t in shape; I didn’t play on the national team. He’s got a free summer. He’s happy. He’s healthy. His No. 1 objective is to come back in October in better shape and a better player.”
Riley said Dragic, 30, has got to improve his game in certain areas. I’ve see players at 32, 33, get better in certain areas of their game....
I keep telling him 50 (percent from the field), 80 (percent on free throws), 40 (percent from the line). I will give you 10 percent on your free throws because you’ll be tired from picking your (butt) up off the floor from getting knocked down all the time for all that space that (Erik) Spoelstra is going to create for you.
Riley was just getting started. “That’s another thing,” Riley said. “Come on, you’ve got to create something just to make sure he gets space. He’s got to be a player that can create and score when there is no space.
“That’s part of the game also, because when teams start to take things away from you and the offense that the coach creates, what are you going to do? Sit you on the bench? No, we’re not going to do that to you. That’s up to you to go out of the box... He said, ‘I totally understand, coach.’”
Regarding Wade, Riley challenged him last summer to change the narrative about his body, and Wade responded, missing only seven games due to injury after skipping 20 the previous season. He also lost 10 pounds last summer and played all season at a listed weight of 220.
He played 74 games and I want him to continue to think about 74 as a magic number, and not go over 230 pounds this summer or I’ll go looking for him, Riley cracked, calling this Wades best season since before the Big Three era.
Wade, whose three-point shooting percentage is second lowest in history (.284) and ahead of only Charles Barkley among players with at least 1,000 attempts, hit 12 of 23 threes in the playoffs, and Riley sees opportunity for growth here.
“The threes I saw him make, every time he lifted and released, I said, ‘This has got a chance,’” Riley said. “And the ones before, when he was jacking them up, they had no chance. He is going to need that a little bit, too, next year.
“Maybe he could become a 40 percent, 38 percent three-point shooter. I wouldn’t give him an open look. Once he went to work with the coaches on it, that shot, if he had to take it, was normal. That would be a big added part of his game next year because nobody ever thinks he can do that.
“When you work in a program like (Spoelstra) has for our three-point shooters, if you did it for 20 minutes a day, you are going to improve. He has a release point and he has a shot that will allow him to move at least two or three feet back without throwing the ball out there.
On Richardson, Riley joked that: “If somebody were to tell me that Josh Richardson was going to lead the league in three-point shooting after the All-Star break, I would have lost my house and my wife and everything. He felt very comfortable in what he was doing and how we were playing.
Though he played a lot of point guard due in part to injuries, Riley said he envisions Richardson’s future at shooting guard.
“Josh is not going to run offense for you (but) he can get you into offense,” Riley said. “Especially he will have to develop a catch- and-shoot jump shot game, catch-and-shoot threes. What I like about him best to this day... is his defensive ability, his competitiveness, his character.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen many guards come from behind and block shots the way that he does. He has really good timing as a defensive player. Now, as teams will take away what they think is a new-found three point shooter, (the key) is putting his head on the ball, putting the ball on the floor, and taking the ball to the rim.”
THIS AND THAT
Riley said of Luol Deng: “We’ve got to try to do everything we can do to keep him.”
But that could be difficult because of cap limitations.
“He found his way along with Goran in the middle of the season,” Riley said. “He was defending all the perimeter players; he was getting more space to run and cut. He’s a great leader, high character guy. We love him. I consider him one of our core people.”
iley made clear that Udonis Haslem can return if he wants.
Though Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has said Justise Winslow is another Wade, Riley said he envisions Winslow playing in the frontcourt longterm.