Analysts implore Heat to make changes, say team is ‘stale.’ And exploring team regression
The Heat won’t consider what to do with its roster until the concluding of this disappointing season, which has further deteriorated amid an ongoing three-game losing streak.
But several former players say it’s already clear what must happen this offseason.
Months after TNT’s Charles Barkley implored the Heat to “break the team up and start over,” several former players with TNT microphones also encouraged change.
Former All-Star Tracy McGrady said this week that the Heat (40-37) must “revamp” its roster.
“If you look at this team, they don’t have an option that creates a lot of attention [beyond Jimmy Butler],” McGrady said. “They don’t have great athleticism on their team. They’re a slow team. For the players they have, they need someone to get them shots.
“They don’t have many 1-on-1 players that a lot of these other teams have to create shots and create for others. There’s a lack of aggression on the offensive end. This is how you all are going to do my guy UD [Udonis Haslem] going out!?”
The Heat is expected to make roster changes this summer, but discussions have not begun on the extent of those changes. The Heat wants to see the entirety of the season before making any decisions.
“This team feels a bit stale,” TNT and NBA TV analyst Channing Frye said. “They have to work so hard” to create shots.
During the TNT-televised Heat loss to Toronto on Tuesday — a game Butler missed — Frye noticed that “any time” anyone besides Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro “got the ball, [Toronto defenders] were just sitting down on those 1-on-1 moves. They can’t get past their guy. In today’s game, everything now is drive, kick, open threes, layups, get to the free-throw line. They had to work so hard every single time.”
Former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, now an analyst for TNT, has been saying for a year that the Heat lacks enough offensive weapons.
“They’re working that hard to get shots in the regular season!” he said. “Imagine what it’s like in the playoffs to get those shots. That’s where Jimmy feels that pressure and he rises to the occasion. They need another guy, another two guys to be able to generate offense for everybody else when the offense bogs down.”
One development that the Heat never expected this season was regression by the majority of its players. Except for Butler, newcomer Cody Zeller and seldom-used Haslem, every veteran player on the team has experienced a statistical decline in at least one area:
▪ Adebayo’s field-goal percentage has dropped from 55.7 last season to 53.9, worst in his career since his rookie season in 2017-18. He’s 11 for his last 28 from the field and has 33 turnovers in his past 11 games.
Though his midrange shooting has improved the past two years, he’s shooting just 29.4 percent (15 for 51) from 16 feet to the three-point line.
His rebounds have dropped from 10.1 to 9.3, including just 7.4 per game since the All-Star break.
▪ Herro’s three-point percentage has dipped from 39.9 to 37.8. Because he’s playing more minutes in lineups with more established scorers, his points per game have dropped from 22.9 to 20.8 per 36 minutes.
▪ Kyle Lowry is on pace to post his lowest scoring average (11.5) since 2009-10, his worst field goal percentage (40.4) since 2012-13 and his worst three-point percentage (34.6) since 2014-15.
Lowry turned 37 last week, but a few All-Star point guards — including Steve Nash — have put up big numbers and remained All-Stars at that age.
Lowry’s statistical decline from his final season in Toronto (2020-21) has been steep, from 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 39.6 percent on threes to 11.5 points, 5.1 assists and 34.6 percent on threes this season.
Lowry, in the second year of a three-year, $85 million contract, is playing about two minutes less per game than his final season with the Raptors.
▪ Three-point shooting percentages have dropped significantly, from last season, for Caleb Martin (41.3 percent to 36.4), Max Strus (41 to 34.3), Gabe Vincent (36.8 to 33.2), Duncan Robinson (37.2 to 33.7) and Victor Oladipo (41.7 to 30.9).
Kevin Love shot 35.4 percent on threes in 41 games for Cleveland this season but just 28 percent in 17 games for Miami.
With the Heat’s defensive and rebounding problems since the All-Star break, Miami has even less chance of surviving that type of across-the-board decline in distance shooting.
▪ The Dallas Mavericks, who play the Heat on Saturday at Miami-Dade County Arena (7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Sun), are just 4-9 when Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving play together. Like the Heat, Dallas has been off since a loss on Wednesday.