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Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat Summer League Diary: Game 1

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Summer League basketball is finally back, and the Miami Heat picked up where they left off last season. After a back-and-forth first quarter (Heat led 25-23 after one), the Heat were able to pull away in the second quarter, outscoring the Clippers 23-12, and never looked back, netting themselves a wire-to-wire, 91-71 victory.

It was a dominant defensive effort for the Juwan Howard-led Heat, who held the Clippers to 35.6 percent shooting from the field (21-59 FG) and 23.1 percent shooting from deep (3-13) while also forcing 18 turnovers.

The air-tight ball pressure, combined with crisp rotations on the back end stifled the Clippers’ offense; they struggled to get clean looks off of high pick-and-rolls and proved to not have any sort of consistent fallback plan outside of crashing the offensive glass (10 offensive rebounds).

As aggressive as the Heat were on defense, they were just as aggressive on offense, constantly attacking the rack and getting to the rim. The Heat generated plenty of open looks due to their insistence to get to the rim, which led to great success in two of the Morey Zones; they shot 37 percent (10-27) from three and 93.8 percent (15-16) from the free throw line.

For these posts, I’ll be breaking the player sections down into two parts: Miami’s “Big Three” of players on their actual roster — Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Briante Weber — and an “Others” section, looking at who stood out (good or bad)  among the other players on the roster.


JUSTISE WINSLOW: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 2 fouls, +25

  • Winslow popped off my TV screen before the game even started. He’s noticeably bigger and stronger, which is smart for a few reasons. He only made 53.8 percent of his layups last year, which ranked 92nd among the 134 players — and 18th among small/hybrid forwards — that attempted at least 150 layups. He missed bunnies last year, and did so in this game, but overall, the increased strength should help him finish through contact — something he also did in this game with some and-ones.
  • He was in attack mode from the jump, forcing his way to the rim and to the free throw line, where he converted seven of his eight attempts.
  • The jumper looks smoother! He only went 2-6 (33.3 percent) from beyond the arc, but that puts him right on track with how he finished his rookie campaign. Over the last 30 games of his season (regular season + postseason), He shot 33.3 percent (12-36) from deep. In a vacuum, that percentage isn’t great by any means, but him becoming even respectable from out there will open up the rest of his game
  • As usual, he was active defensively and was disruptive without getting himself into foul trouble
  • Much like last year in Summer League, Miami let him run a lot of high pick-and-rolls. Just like last year, he made nice reads, but also got himself in trouble trying to force some passes. His assist-to-turnover ratio was yucky, but at this time of year, it’s more about reps and comfort anyway.

JOSH RICHARDSON: 17 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, +17

  • Richardson was on one *Drake voice*. He finished the game poorly, making one of his last five shots after starting the game 6-9 from the field, but he made his presence felt on both ends.
  • His patience in the pick-and-roll game was encouraging. He took what the defense gave him and worked the in-between game.
  • He went 0-3 from three, but drained four shots from 20 feet, with three of them going down with his foot on the line. It was weird.
  • The blocked shot was awesome, but the way he fought over the screen and stayed connected to his man before getting the block was the most impressive thing to me. He took a lot of bad angles last year and made up for it with his length and athleticism. Becoming a smarter defender in addition to his physical gifts could make him downright scary

BRIANTE WEBER: 4 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls, +26

  • Weber’s stat line wasn’t one of a superstar, but he was a game-high +26 for a reason. He. Was. Everywhere.
  • Within the first 57 seconds of the freaking game, he racked up a steal, missed a pull-up jumper, grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end, finished a tough layup in traffic, then forced another turnover thanks to his full court pressure.
  • About that full court pressure: that was a thing throughout the game. He was in the jersey, flashing his hands and throwing his (miniature) body into whoever he guarded. You never want to make premature declarations on guys, but based on what I’ve seen of him in Sioux Falls, Miami’s D-League affiliate, and what he showcased in the first game, it’s hard not to see Patrick Beverley all over this guy.
  • He didn’t take a three. He stayed mostly within himself—and it wasn’t needed anyway—but it’d be nice to see him take some in rhythm moving forward. He drained 20 of his 49 attempts (40.8 percent) in Sioux Falls last year (28 games), which is a relatively small sample. He’ll need to prove he can knock those down in the NBA and defend in more difficult pick-and-roll situations.


STEFAN JANKOVIC: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover, 3 fouls, -2

  • He was an eye-opener. He did work in pick-and-pop situations, drained a pair of threes, drained some shots out of the post, put the ball on the floor, set solid screens, and ran the floor well. He seems to be an intelligent player, understanding the nuances of spacing. The only thing that really concerned me was his mobility; he’s nimble on his feet, but speed and lateral quickness are an issue. Before his blocked shot, he had to hedge high on a pick-and-roll, and it was dreadfully slow. Regardless, it was a pretty good showing for him.

NORVEL PELLE: 4 points, 7 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 5 fouls, +18

  • Listed at 6’11 and 215 pounds, Pelle brought some “OOMPH” to the Heat. One of his five fouls was a bone-shattering pick in the first quarter that had the NBA TV announcing crew hyped up. Belle wasn’t efficient (1-3 FG), but his physicality and activity on the glass (four offensive boards) help set the tone. He’ll need to put on a good deal of weight moving forward, but his mentality and play style seem translatable anywhere.

DAMION LEE: 5 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assist, +5

He didn’t do much, but he gave us this bomb of a highlight:

Miami Heat Summer League Diary: Game 1

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