A six-pack of Heat notes on a Sunday night:
▪ As soon as last season ended, Erik Spoelstra said he needed to do a six-week audit of the offense to determine why the Heat’s offense was negatively impacted more than the defense by injuries and changes in personnel.
The result of that audit has been subtle changes to the Heat’s offense.
Spoelstra’s tinkering is partly the byproduct of some of the team’s personnel changes but also partly a function of hoping to improve the production of a team that finished 26th in points per game (105.7), 22nd in shooting percentage (45) and 26th in offensive rating (106.7 points per 100 possessions).
“Some of it will be different; some of it will be similar,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not saying it’s dramatic. It’s somewhat [so].
“The last three years, we had a similar team so that system was built really for that group. This system has to be a little bit different just by the nature of some of the changes.”
Spoelstra said he met with several coaches to discuss numerous topics but declined to name them. I previously reported that one of those coaches was Nova Southeastern’s Jim Crutchfield, whose up-tempo offense is traditionally one of the most productive in small-school college basketball. They talked a lot about offense, Crutchfield said.
“We went through a summer of evaluating everything and I think that’s good for our coaching staff to reflect and try to find ways to do things better, but ultimately you’re trying to create a system that brings out the best in your current roster,” Spoelstra said. “The last six weeks, we focused on that -- what makes the most sense for the guys we have.”
One intriguing possibility: Playing Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk together at times - which would give the Heat two stretch bigs and two high-caliber three-point shooters. Is that a combo we could see at times?
“We’ve given thought to everything,” Spoelstra said. “Right now, they’re not on the practice court together so I’m not able to look at that. But when they are, all things are on the table.”
Justise Winslow has seen some differences with the offense: “Our play calling is more complex and complicated this year. We’re able to get to more actions. Everyone on the court is able to understand a little better than last year. It’s a combination of some of the new guys are extremely smart and we’re getting older.”
What does the offense need to look like? “We have got to continue to share the ball, do things with a purpose,” Winslow said. “As long as we share the ball and make the game easier for each other, I think this offense will be successful.”
Goran Dragic said the biggest change on offense is “we have a few new actions from last year. It’s a lot of the same calls, but then they finish differently. You have a lot of options from the same action. I think that’s something new. You need to pay attention because he can put one action on top of the other, and then you have two actions at the same time.”
What’s Jimmy Butler’s vision for the offense?
“Put the ball out there and tell guys to go play. Sacrifice will be a big thing we all are going to work on, myself included. We have to make sure everyone can stick to their strengths, keep away from their weaknesses as much as possible. When the time gets here, it’s going to look really good.”
▪ Colleague Anthony Chiang has several takeaways from Sunday’s scrimmage. Couple other thoughts from Sunday: As we saw in summer league, what was encouraging with Tyler Herro was his ability to do other things beyond shoot from the perimeter. At least twice, he drove past defenders for layups. He also threw a terrific alley-oop to Derrick Jones Jr....
Bam Adebayo hit his first mid-range jumper, which was encouraging. So did Jones. No two players worked more on their jumpers this summer than those two... Every time we see Kendrick Nunn, we grow more curious what he can do as a rotation player. He was impressive again Sunday...
Meyers Leonard, who was very good offensively Sunday, looks like the best fit to start alongside Adebayo if Kelly Olynyk isn’t ready to start the season. Once Olynyk is fully back from the bone bruise on his knee, he almost assuredly will - and should - start alongside Bam... Mychal Mulder - one of six players competing for two two-way deals - continues to intrigue because he has one clearly above average NBA skill (distance shooting).
▪ If you missed my tweet on this Thursday night (@flasportsbuzz): 76ers center Joel Embiid told ESPN’s The Jump that he wishes Philadelphia had been able to re-sign Butler.
“We lost a big piece in Jimmy; he did a lot of great things for us,” Embiid said.. “It was a big loss because me and him, we got to the point where we were really close. We’re still close. We talk a lot, that’s my guy, that’s my brother forever.
“I wish he was still on the team, because I feel like the relationship that I built with him could have gone a long way. When it was the fourth quarter, we knew the ball would either be in me or Jimmy’s hands. I knew I could count on him. This year it kind of changes around. Now other guys have to step up and I have to do more.”
Butler’s response Friday: “We do talk all the time. Even when I was traded here, I told him, ‘Continue to dominate. Continue to prove why you’re the best player in this effing league.’ I have a lot of respect for him and I hear he’s in shape. I’m excited to compete against him.”
▪ Derrick Jones Jr. said it meant a lot to him that Miami refused to acquiesce to Dallas’ request for Jones and Kelly Olynyk in a proposed trade when Miami was seeking to achieve cap room to sign Butler.
“They said they didn’t want to let me go and that was the end of it,” Jones said. “It made me feel like I was wanted. My first years in the league I didn’t feel that way when I was in Phoenix. Now I feel wanted. I’m happy.”
▪ After practicing with him for several days at training camp, Heat players say Butler has come fully as advertised.
“He’s exactly what I expected,” Adebayo said. “His work ethic is through the roof and he talks a lot of trash. I like to back mine up. When we’re on different teams, we go at it. Jimmy came here to be pushed.”
Winslow spoke of Butler’s “intensity, his competitiveness, his work ethic, his IQ. He’s bringing that every day at a high level and that’s just contagious for the rest of us. He’s always talking, whether it’s trash talking or talking something [constructive to] a teammate. He’s always vocal and that’s something you want out of a leader of the team.”
Said Dragic: “He talks a lot. He’s backing up that talk and it’s fun because he’s challenging different guys and guys want to compete.”
▪ Chris Bosh was at AmericanAirlines on Heat Media Day on Monday, but he’s not working for the team. Instead, he was there because he likes to use the facility to work out, and the Heat is happy to accommodate.
Kyle Alexander, the Tennessee rookie center/power forward hoping to land one of the team’s open two-way contracts, met him “and I tried to stay composed” because Bosh is “one of my favorite all time players.”
At Tennessee, Rick Barnes had Alexander study tape of Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge. Rookies Chris Silva and Alexander are similar in their willingness to rebound and defend. Before he left for training camp, Silva’s college coach - South Carolina and former Miami High coach Frank Martin - told Silva “to do what I do and everything will be all right.”
Please check back Monday for Heat, Dolphins and Canes pieces.