The Miami Heat are having a rough season. While it’s not fair to compare this year’s squad with the successful ones from the past four years, there is still a lot of underachieving going on with the Heat. There is plenty of talent and experience on this team on paper, but for some reason that isn’t translating to the hardwood.READ MORE: Orange County Officials Searching For 19-Year-Old Miya Marcano
Recently Miami has shown some signs of life but the inability to string consecutive solid efforts together, whether it be a few possessions, quarters or games, has left many Heat fans scratching their heads. That being said, the team does have all the components needed to have a successful year…they just have to start playing like it. Here are the top things Miami must do to turn their season around.
IMPROVED POINT GUARD PLAY
You can make an argument for any of the five starting positions to be the most important one, but for the Heat the team seems to trend in the direction that their point guards take them. In years past Miami has gotten by with marginal-to-good play from their two main players at the position, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, but both have seemed to regress so far this season. The Heat can survive without getting double digit points from either of them but when poor shooting is combined with lazy turnovers and a lack of defensive intensity, that creates a huge hole in production from the position that Miami needs it the most.
BETTER OUTSIDE SHOOTING
One area that the Heat has struggled a lot this year has been with their outside shooting. Aside from the aforementioned point guards, who have issues scoring from anywhere on the floor, Miami hasn’t gotten the kind of shooting you’d come to expect from guys like Luol Deng, Danny Granger and even Dwyane Wade. As a team the Heat rank 17th in the league in 3-point shooting, hitting just 34.6 percent of their shots from downtown. The only respectable long-range shooter on the Heat is Chris Bosh, who has made 39.0 percent from beyond the arc.
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The sample size is small, but 25-year-old Hassan Whiteside is turning a lot of heads with his recent play in Miami. He started logging double-digit minutes in late December and has now earned an important role in the Heat’s rotation. In the six games played so far in January, Whiteside is averaging 24.2 minutes per game. He’s put up 13.8 points per game during that span, shooting a ridiculous 71.7 percent from the field. Aside from his offensive prowess, Whiteside is excelling in the ‘big guy’ categories, averaging 10.2 rebounds this month while blocking 3.5 shots per game and turning the ball over just 1.3 times.
YOUNG GUYS NEED TO DEVELOP
Aside from Whiteside, Miami hasn’t gotten a lot of help from its younger players. There was a reasonable amount of hype surrounding rookies Shabazz Napier and James Ennis, but neither has stepped up as a main contributor for the Heat. Napier has bounced back and forth between Miami and it’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but hasn’t made much of the playing time awarded to him by Erik Spoelstra. The same can be said for Ennis, who impressed during the Heat’s Summer League contests but hasn’t done much to build on his success during the NBA season.
CLEAN UP TURNOVERS
While as a team the Heat are tied for 11th in the league in turnovers, giving the ball away an average of 13.6 times per game, the timeliness and nature of their missteps has been a major hindrance. The main culprits are the guards, which makes since as they are the ones handling the ball the most. Dwyane Wade leads the team with 97 turnovers but Chalmers is right behind him with 91. Again, it’s not necessarily the amount of turnovers that is the problem, but more the ‘when’ and ‘why’ they happen. Cleaning up this aspect of the game will go a long way for the Heat during the remainder of the season.
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