A six-pack of Heat notes on a Tuesday:
• The Heat’s Wayne Ellington is so good at exhausting defenders by running around the perimeter and then launching threes, that several opponents have actually told him – during a game – to “slow down.”
Ellington, who is an exceptional shape, relayed that story in recent days.
He said he knows defenders are tired chasing him off screens, and otherwise, “when I see their hands on their knees.”
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Ellington entered Tuesday evening tied with Kyrie Irving for sixth in made three-pointers with 101, trailing only James Harden, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Eric Gordon and Kyle Lowry. His 42.3 percent shooting on threes is tied for 25th.
• Here’s what a veteran NBA scout told me today about new Heat addition Derrick Jones Jr., who finished runner-up in last year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest and has played in 28 games for Phoenix over the past two years:
“If he couldn’t jump [as well as he does], would he be in the league? No. That alluring physical ability, you hope some of the other stuff will develop. It’s a worthwhile shot [for Miami to take on a two-way contract]. He’s got to become more skilled and his body isn’t great. He’s skinny. Has the ability to defend. He is a wing player and if you’re not a good shooter, you’re behind the eight balls. His handle isn’t very good.”
Jones has shot 56 percent from the field but 5 for 17 from 3 to 9 feet, 5 for 16 from 11 feet to the three point line and 3 for 13 on threes.
The Heat signed him to a two-way contract, and he’s with the team initially, as the clock ticks on his 26 available NBA days that the two-way contract permits on a prorated basis.
“It’s hard not to notice his athleticism and his explosiveness, his talent, all of those things at an extremely high level,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s an opportunity to spend some time with a young player that has a lot of physical talent and see if we can help each other. We’re excited about it. He was available. We still want to develop Matt [Williams Jr.] in Sioux Falls. His skills are a little bit more advanced at this point. We felt he was a little bit better fit for the two-way contract.”
• One of the unfortunate things about James Johnson’s ankle bursitis is he told me a day before the injury that for the first time, he had started to feel as comfortable starting as coming off the bench.
Johnson’s numbers starting are virtually identical (or slightly better) starting than coming off the bench, except three-point shooting (40.4 percent off the bench, 20 percent or 5 for 25 as a starter).
He has started 11 games (including in the games before his injury) and come off the bench in 18 games.
Johnson is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Detroit.
• Thirty eight of Bam Adebayo’s 70 baskets are dunks, but he’s also a respectable 17 for 37 from three to 16 feet, and his 16.6 points per 48 minutes is 15th among centers.
“His touch around the rim is really good; he jumps so high when he lays it up, it’s almost like a dunk,” Goran Dragic said.
• Josh Richardson has now led the Heat or tied for the lead in scoring in five his last 15 games. Richardson was the leading scorer in only two of his first 126 games in the NBA.
• Justise Winslow missed the last nine games with a strained left knee and there’s still no timetable for his return. But an MRI was negative and an involved person said Tuesday that there is no need for surgery. Everyone is waiting for the injury to be fully healed.
Manny Navarro has more Heat news here, including Hassan Whiteside news.
Here are my UM notes from Tuesday (before D.J. Johnson announced his transfer), including a schedule switch.
And check back in a couple hours for some interesting news.