A six-pack of Heat notes on a Tuesday:
▪ Everybody knows that you generally need a star — if not multiple stars – to win significantly in the NBA.
But the Heat's Kelly Olynyk said teams need something else, too, and cites the Heat-76ers playoff series as evidence.
“They [Philadelphia] had five guys on the floor who were threats at all times from all spots on the floor,” Olynyk said in the aftermath of that series. “It's tough to guard. It's really tough to guard. The way the NBA is now, the more skilled shooting, passing, dribbling you have, the more of a threat you are. If you are not 7-1 and an absolute beast, someone like Hassan [Whiteside], you really have to be able to do a lot of things on the floor or you're going to get lost in the shuffle.”
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Olynyk, the ultimate team player, wasn’t mentioning that as a criticism of his own team.
But let’s be real:
The Heat doesn’t have enough players who fall into that category, beyond Olynyk and Goran Dragic and at times, Josh Richardson, when his offensive game is humming.
James Johnson can get to the basket with alacrity, but his 30.8 three-point shooting ranked 33rd of 35 qualifying power forwards. Justise Winslow showed growth in his three-point game, but teams still routinely leave him open.
Tyler Johnson ranked 34th of 40 qualifying shooting guards in three-point shooting at 36.7 percent this season, and his assist to turnover ratio of 2.04 — 141st in the league — is less than ideal if the Heat casts him as a backup point guard after Dion Waiters returns.
Whiteside hasn’t developed a consistent midrange shot (he was 29 for 91, 31.9 percent from 10 to 15 feet this season), and Bam Adebayo’s offensive game needs lots of work; he was 29 for 95 (30.5 percent) on jumpers.
Olynyk cites Waiters as a player who could be that multidimensional offensive threat.
“We definitely missed Dion, his ability to create plays,” Olynyk said. “You could see it earlier in the year, you throw him the ball and he can get by his man and make plays for somebody else or make a play for himself. He's a guy who can get a shot off anytime he needs to. Those kind of guys are important to have on your team, guys who don't need other guys to get open.”
But keep in mind that the Waiters we saw in 30 games this season was 29th among 30 qualifying shooting guards in three-point percentage before his injury (30.6) and 169th of 254 at 1.61 to 1 in assist to turnover ratio.
Another objective, as Olynyk said, is “put as many guys together whose skills complement each other.”
If the Heat cannot land a star this offseason, there's something to be said for Olynyk's notion of having a lot of multidimensional offensive players — with the hope that the Heat staff can make them better defenders, something that these Heat coaches have a track record of doing.
▪ Adebayo ended up missing the NBA's all-rookie second team by a point. Adebayo finished with 44 points in a weighted scale of NBA media voting. That left him one point behind Phoenix's Josh Jackson, who had 45 points — the 10th most points of any rookie in voting.
Adebayo and Jackson were both listed on 43 of the 100 media ballots in voting for first or second team, but Jackson received one more first-place vote and landed the final spot on the second team ahead of Adebayo.
Philadelphia' Ben Simmons and Utah's Donovan Mitchell each received the most points, 200 apiece.
The first team: Mitchell, Simmons, the Celtics' Jayson Tatum, the Lakers' Kyle Kuzma and Chicago's Lauri Markkanen.
The second team: Dallas' Dennis Smith Jr., the Lakers' Lonzo Ball, Atlanta's John Collins, Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic and Jackson.
Adebayo finished well ahead of the 12th-highest vote-getter — Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox (34 points) and the 13th, Toronto's OG Anunoby (25).
Adebayo, drafted 14th overall by the Heat out of Kentucky, averaged 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 18.8 minutes in 69 games, including 19 starts.
▪ The Detroit Pistons were impressed by Heat director of basketball development and analytics Shane Battier, which is no surprise. He's expected to get a second interview with them this week for an upper-level front-office position, per a source.
▪ You can be sure that the Heat will inquire about any All-Star if there’s even a whiff that he’s available.
But amid ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe mentioning the idea of Minnesota possibly trading Karl Anthony Towns — “Minnesota isn’t in a good place internally right now,” Lowe said — keep in mind that the difficulties in making such a trade extend well beyond the attractiveness of a potential Heat offer.
Towns is earning just $7.8 million next season, making it difficult to make a trade work under salary cap rules unless the Wolves 1) get back a top talent making similar money or 2) include a bad contract in the trade.
So even if the Wolves consider trading Towns, they might need to attach the onerous contract of Gorgui Dieng, who’s due $15.2 million, $16.2 million and $17.3 million the next three seasons.
Towns averaged 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds last season, his scoring average down from 25.1 the previous season. Dieng averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds and his contract is an albatross.
▪ The Heat will closely monitor the Kawhi Leonard situation, and the San Antonio Express News reports the Spurs hope to meet with Leonard and his representatives soon in a bid to repair their strained relationship (resulting from different approaches on treatment of a quad injury) and potentially offer Leonard a five-year $219 million supermax contract that he will be eligible to receive starting July 1.
The Express News reported that the Spurs will be forced to explore trading Leonard if “attempts to patch up the relationship fail.”
A Heat package could include all or some combination of Dragic, Richardson, Winslow and Adebayo.
▪ As far as potential trade partners for Whiteside, Dallas — a team that tried to sign Whiteside in the past — appears inclined instead to pursue impending free agent big men.
According to The Ringer, Dallas is expected to pursue DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins and restricted free agent Julius Randle.
From the Heat's standpoint, there remains sentiment internally toward moving on from Whiteside.