MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Suddenly it appears that the NBA’s All-Star weekend is being invaded by the Miami Heat.
Wayne Ellington’s primary role with Miami is clear: He’s supposed to attempt a 3-pointer whenever possible.
That’s a winning formula for the Heat.
And it got Ellington to All-Star weekend.
Ellington is one of the eight players picked to compete in the 3-point contest on All-Star Saturday Night, set for Feb. 18 in Los Angeles. Ellington has already set a career-high with 153 3-pointers this season, with nearly half the season still to play.
“I wouldn’t have been mad or upset if I didn’t get the call,” Ellington said. “But it felt great to get it, for sure. I’ve put a lot of work in and it’s always been one of my individual goals.”
Here’s how important Ellington’s shooting from long range has been for Miami: The Heat are 0-7 when he doesn’t make a 3-pointer, and 29-15 when he makes one or more. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has given Ellington the ultimate green light — in his parts of two seasons with Miami, 77 percent of Ellington’s field-goal attempts have come from beyond the arc.
He has become a true 3-point specialist, one who arrives early on practice days and stays late and has blown the Heat away with his work ethic.
“He’s a supremely conditioned athlete in the National Basketball Association,” Spoelstra said. “He’s the top tier. … Wayne plays his games now, catch-and-shoot style, in the red zone all game long. That’s just a testament to the work he’s put into his body.”
Ellington has become one of Miami’s most important players.
That means the Heat will have some things to decide this summer.
Ellington is a journeyman who doesn’t want to be on more journeys. He’s been traded four times and joined four teams as a free agent, moving to a new NBA city on almost an annual basis. And he’ll be a free agent again in July — but has made no secret of the fact that, if he got a vote, would prefer to stay in Miami for the long haul. He’s getting married this summer, he and his fiancée recently had their first child, and Miami feels like home.
“I think everybody knows that,” Ellington said. “I don’t hide it. I come in every day and I feel like I show it. This is where I want to be at the end of the day. Since I came to Miami, life’s been amazing for me. I’ve got my son, I’ve got my fiancee and my basketball life has done a complete 180. I feel so grateful just for the opportunity, and I’m so appreciative.”
The uncertainty about his future hasn’t seemed to bother him.
Ellington is averaging career-highs in points (11.2) and minutes (26.2) per game. And put simply, when he’s involved, the Heat win. In the 24 games where Ellington has scored more than 10 points, the Heat are 18-6.
“Every year’s a contract year for me, pretty much,” Ellington said. “So I’ve learned to just play basketball. You can’t think about down the road or what’s going to happen next. You’ve just got to think about what’s going on right now. That’s really what I’ve been trying to do throughout my career. I’ve been on a lot of one-year deals and when you have to play like that, you kind of get accustomed to it.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)