5-on-5: Dion, Okaro White, the Streak and Trades

Commentary5 years ago12 min readMiami Heat Beat Staff

We’ve reached the midway point of the season. Our expert staff at Miami Heat Beat is here to tell you how to think! Exciting right? We’re borrowing on ESPN’s 5-on-5 idea where we take five of our staff writers (against their will)—sometimes a special guest columnist—asking them all the same questions to hear their differentiating opinions (hot takes) on what’s going on with the HEAT. So without further ado, let’s get started.

1. What is your favorite part of the win streak?

Leif: The obvious answer is the Dion Waiters game winner vs Golden State. Although my personal favorite is a play late in the win at Brooklyn where Okaro White was off the ball, directing traffic ON OFFENSE during the ninth day of his NBA career. The play ultimately resulted in a Wayne Ellington trey. The little things. That kid gets it. Honorable mention to Hassan Whiteside’s response late in the win at home vs Detroit. Progress.

Harrison Cytryn: It’s always about that handsome devil, Erik Spoelstra. Basketball is the favorite sport of the Cytryn Clan, and I deal with a lot of Spo hate. My mom, my dad and my brother all usually have something negative to say about him. But for this HEAT team to win 8 games in a row, with some big wins over the Rockets and the Warriors, Spo is really working his wizardry. He’s the best active coach in the league whose nickname is not Pop. Argue at your own risk, but just know, you are wrong.

Alex Toledo: Outside of Dion having Dionions against the Warriors and Nets, (they are so good at being bad), the Bulls game on Friday night was an insanely fun watch for me. Although has mostly died out, I felt some of that same tasty vindication watching the Bulls’ civil war unravel to the tune of a HEAT blowout win on the road. Also, D-Wade left the best point guard he ever played with.

Nekias Duncan: My favorite part has been the sheer randomness of it all. It doesn’t make sense, but it makes all the sense in the world when you consider the organization and the head coach.

If you want a more specific answer, I’ve enjoyed watching Rodney McGruder find his groove offensively. His shooting stroke is there — he’s hit about 47 percent of his threes during the streak — and his instincts as a cutter impress me

Giancarlo Navas: The fact that Tyler Johnson has been either bad or absent during this streak. I will be validated.

2. If Dion Waiters finishes the season on a high note, would you be fine with him returning long-term?

Leif: If Waiters could continue this level of play, or even close to it, with the key being his improving efficiency, I would be very open to re-signing him. He has moments where he can carry an offense, and at worst, he can be a sixth man who gets big buckets. But it’s going to take more than eight games to sell me on the idea.

Harrison: No thanks! I love that Dion has bought in and sounds like Spo in all his post-game press conferences, but his game is so inconsistent. I still see him as a better Chalmers: He has a great skill set, but has the basketball IQ of a third grader. Also, there’s no way this streak continues for much longer. Congrats on his Player of the Week honor, but he’ll start missing those long twos and off-balance threes soon.

Alternative facts: If for some reason the HEAT completely strike out in free agency, I could be talked into a short term deal (1-2 years) to retain Dion.

Alex: Not really. In my ideal world, the HEAT trade Dion right now while his trade value is at the highest it’s going to be this season. Don’t get me wrong, it has been incredibly fun watching him turn into a good version of himself for a little while, but the HEAT should not be going into the $10+ million range to re-sign Dion. At least not for the long-term. This is gonna become more obvious as he regresses back to a slightly better (?) mean.

Nekias: If Waiters settles around something like 18-4-4 to finish out the year (he’s averaging 22-4-5 during the streak), I would be fine with something like 3/36. Anything more than that would make me a bit uneasy. His effort has never been a question, and he’s scoring the ball efficiently. I can take the occasional bonehead shot as long as the good outweighs the bad.

Giancarlo: I think like anything there are degrees to it. If Dion finishes the year with this type of efficiency/productivity, I think Miami should find ways to keep him. It all depends on what the asking price is. He is good ball handler who plays defense. There is a lot of value in that.

3. Who do you trust more going forward: Hassan Whiteside or Willie Reed?

Leif: I trust Hassan Whiteside more because he is considerably more talented and proven. As much as I can be critical of Hassan, his elite talent cannot be ignored when comparing him to Willie Reed. Now if we want to discuss who I rather have, cost considered, that’s a different conversation.

Harrison: I trust Hassan because of how dominant he can be on the defensive end. I love Willie’s energy, but I’m not sure he’s close to the player Hassan has the potential to be. I know people like to dog on Hassan, and I could even see him being traded at some point, but I trust his game going forward on this team.

Alex: Hassan. He has been slumping for a little while and hasn’t look as engaged at times on the court, but he’s absolutely more dominant and more productive than Willie Reed. Reed is a nice energy big off the bench who can finish, but he’s kinda clumsy and not a great defensive anchor. So no, I wouldn’t take him over the team’s highest paid [active] player.

Nekias: I’m glad this question is as vague as it is. Willie Reed is intriguing to me. I’ve always been a fan of his (and spent all of last season complaining about him not being on the roster), but I’ve always seen him as a quality back-up. He isn’t super skilled, but has a soft enough touch at the rim, screens well, runs hard, and brings energy every second he’s on the floor. He’s played well during the streak, but he’s quietly improved every month of the year. He’s become a much better positional defender, and that’s the part that worried me the most about him. At this point, I probably trust him more to continue to improve to low-end starter status more than I trust Hassan Whiteside to become the bona fide two-way stud he has the potential to be.

Giancarlo: I think the reason why Hassan frustrates peoples so much is because we know how good he can be. So his lapses in judgment or effort drive people crazy and makes him untrustworthy, unlike Reed who always tries as hard as he can. But I trust Hassan more to make a play compared to Reed, despite the occasional differences in effort.

4. How much are you enjoying Okaro White, and who does he remind you of?

Leif: The emergence of Okaro White is one of the brightest spots of this recent streak. The HEAT coaching staff appear to have mined another gem. They are utilizing the developmental league better than anyone. As far as comparisons, White has moments that remind me of the type of impact James Posey once had in Miami. Maybe not as a deep threat, but as a player who converts good shots as a safety valve, makes smart passes on the move, defends with maximum effort and has a knack for winning 50/50 plays.

Harrison: How can you not like 8-Okaro?! He’s been a perfect role player for the HEAT, and Riley will re-sign him (for the rest of the season) when his second 10-day contract is up in a few days (Okaro’s contract will be similar to J-Rich’s and McGruder’s). Even as a new member of the HEAT, he’s so fundamentally sound. Okaro always boxes out, sets great screens, makes the extra pass, hustles all over the court, and can even stretch the floor with his three-point shot. He reminds me of former HEAT favorite Brian Grant, but with range. White even closed the game against the Nets on Monday, so Spo has all the faith in the world in him.

Alex: Okaro has replenished my soul and straight-up rejuvenated me. He plays so hard. And he’s shown visible improvement! His skill set/general stiffness is Millsap-esque, but he actually reminds me a lot of DeMarre Carroll in how much he hustles for loose balls and rebounds while quietly displaying basketball IQ.

Nekias: The Okaro White Era has been FLAMES. He’s such a smart player on the defensive end; it’s rare you see that from a rookie, especially an undrafted one. He reminds me a little of Robert Covington; isn’t fluid enough to create off the bounce, but can attack a closeout, doesn’t mind flinging threes all over the yard, and can defend either forward spot.

Giancarlo: I have loved what we have seen and I would also caution the fanbase to be weary. I don’t expect his 46 percent three point shooting to hold up, which is what mostly separates him from a lot of other guys who are available. If he can keep up a decent shooting percentage he will make a lot of money in this league because he is so smart, defends and is young.

5. Who’s most likely to be moved at or by the trade deadline?

Leif: The smart money remains on Goran Dragic. Miami has had plenty of conversations with teams about most of their players, but things have been quiet as the team went streaking. According to a source, the Charlotte Hornets recently inquired about Hassan Whiteside, however, talks didn’t go far. The HEAT are in position to be patient, and will only trade Goran Dragic, or any other key cog for a major haul. The thing is, they may just get it by February 23rd. Dragic has done wonders for his value & interest from prospective trade deadline buyers.

Harrison: Two weeks ago, I would have put my money on Goran. I love The Dragon, but think the HEAT should capitalize on his value and go for a full youth movement. But the win streak changes a few things. The HEAT might not necessarily get a PG in the draft now, and it doesn’t make sense to move Goran if you don’t have a replacement in mind. So to answer the question, I could see a guy on a one-year deal being moved. Even if the HEAT would like to re-sign Dion or James Johnson next season, it makes sense to try to get a pick for them (even a second rounder) in a deep draft. So I think one of those two would be most likely to be moved. I’m thinking Riley holds on to his big assets (Goran and Hassan) and might try to move them at the draft.

Alex: I still think Goran is the most likely HEAT player dealt by the trade deadline, especially if the Heat front office prefers to start losing games again. For one thing, Goran’s trade value is the highest it’s been in a while because of how good he’s been this season. He still doesn’t really fit the timeline of his teammates and could help get some back. Also, there aren’t many other players on the HEAT who other teams want that the HEAT actually wanna let go of. I wouldn’t be surprised either if the HEAT kept him with the rationale of having a great player on a valuable contract who potentially helps groom an elite point guard prospect.

Nekias: I don’t think Miami will make a trade unless someone blows them out of the water. It probably makes more sense to sense to wait until draft night to make a move. As far as overall moves, I’d be shocked if Derrick Williams is still on the roster by mid-February. He hasn’t really played much, and with White already on his second ten-day contract, Miami’s going to need a roster spot in order to sign White for the rest of the year.

Giancarlo: I really think Miami isn’t moving anyone. I don’t think anyone will truly offer equal value for Goran or Hassan and this front office hates being rock bottom. They wanna fight. Whether that’s right or wrong is irrelevant, it’s just how they are.

Want more Miami Heat Beat commentary and insight? Follow our writers and guest columnists on Twitter:

Giancarlo Navas (@gnavas103), Harrison Cytryn (@HotTakeHarry), Alex Toldeo (@TropicalBlanket), Nekias Duncan (@NekiasNBA)& (@Lefty_Leif).