Barry Jackson

Two NBA scouts assess Heat roster at All-Star break

Two veteran NBA scouts who have watched the Heat recently came away with a feeling shared by some of their fans: The longterm outlook appears somewhat bleak.

“They have really screwed it up,” one Western Conference scout said. “They are in this mess by themselves, have only themselves to blame. They got deluded by one year of performance, fell much too in love with their own players. They have five bad contracts – James Johnson, [Hassan] Whiteside, [Dion] Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and now Ryan Anderson. Their whole team is just a bunch of other guys. They have too many mediocre players.”

Some feedback from two NBA scouts – we will call them A and B - who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly:

Justise Winslow. Scout A: “It’s hard to believe he’s now one of their best three-point shooters. The problem before was he couldn’t shoot or score and now he can do both. He’s made significant improvement. I wouldn’t rule out him being a longterm starting point guard, but I don’t think we’ve seen enough to say that definitively. At the very least, he’s a useful and versatile player.”

Scout B: “I’m happy for him. It’s a credit to him and his hard work. I am still not convinced he’s a starting point guard longterm, but I wouldn’t count him out. He’s made great strides. Remember, the best point guards grow up in that position. Going from a two to a one rarely happens, and I don’t think he’s a true point. But it could work with [Goran] Dragic, because Dragic can play off the ball. Dragic can come off screens because he’s a better shooter.”

Josh Richardson. Scout A: “He’s a good player, but he’s the fourth best player, maybe third on a really good team. He would be a great sixth man on a really good team. He’s a good shooter but not a great shooter. Good scorer but not a great scorer. He’s not a great playmaker. He’s a steals guy and comes from behind for blocks.”

Scout B: “He was going through a tough stretch shooting, but I like him. Minnesota should have taken Richardson for Jimmy Butler. He’s better than [Dario] Saric and [Robert] Covington. Richardson is more in line with a Butler type player. He would still be the first guy I would want from their roster.”

Dion Waiters. Scout A: “He has to be at the top of his game to be effective. He pounds the ball for them, but he’s got to be a scorer. What we saw [in early 2017] might have been a mirage.”

James Johnson: Scout A: “He should be earning about $5 million, not $15 million [on average over four years]. He can handle but he doesn’t rebound well enough and he’s not consistent. He should be a lockdown defender, but he hasn’t been as effective defensively this season. Not a reliable scorer and shooter at this point. What you have is an albatross.”

Scout B: “Can play multiple positions but doesn’t do anything great. They’re paying him like a starter and he isn’t.”

Kelly Olynyk: Scout A: “He’s not having a very good year. He’s so limited. He doesn’t rebound, not a good defensive player. Combine the way he’s shooting this year, which is below average, so what exactly are you getting [for] $12 million [annually]? He can pass the ball some. He’s shooting 34 from three compared to career 36 and a half.”

Bam Adebayo. Scout A: “I like his defense. He’s a better rebounder than people thought he was going to be. Terrific athlete, plays his butt off. You can run lobs for him, but scoring is always going to be something you can’t rely on. He’s not a good enough shooter. He needs better range, consistency on his shot to be a longterm starter. He’s a complementary player, a five who can guard some fours. Is he going to be a quality starter down the road? He’s got a long way to go, but I like his energy.”

Scout B: “His face-up game needs a lot of work.”

Hassan Whiteside: Scout A: “He still really has no reliable offensive game. And the problem with playing Whiteside and Bam together is they’re giving up too much offense. The prototype four is a guy who can make shot and Adebayo can’t do that and of course, Whiteside can’t do that consistently.”

Scout B: “He’s doing a better job setting screens, but he’s just not consistent enough.”

Dwyane Wade: Scout B: “He has surpassed what I expected this year. I thought he was done two years ago, and he’s obviously not. Amazing guy.”

Rodney McGruder: Scout A: “I’ve always liked him as a situational guy, but is he even a rotation guy on a good team? He will get more than the minimum from someone this summer, maybe on the low end of a share of the $10 million midlevel this summer.”

Ryan Anderson: Scout A: “He’s a stretch four and that’s it. He’s got deep range, 27 foot range. He doesn’t defend. He was a good rebounder at one point. No handle. I thought he was a perfect fit for Houston but it didn’t work out. He was never a great athlete. It’s a little odd what’s happened in his career. The guy should have some value.”

The scout didn’t believe Tyler Johnson was much of a loss, saying “he’s a $5 million player earning $19 million. Probably not a rotation player on a really good team.”

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