The Launching Pad: Bam Controling the Paint, Hunting Porzingis, 2 Sides of Herro’s PnR

Insight2 months ago8 min readJohn Jablonka

Hi, and welcome back to our Miami Heat weekly round-up: The Launching Pad! Each week, I’ll be going over key observations and trends, breaking down some film, and giving my overall thoughts on the week. You can find all of it here, every Monday.

Quick side note, because of the difference in time zones, I’ve written this yesterday before the Atlanta Hawks game. All stats and topics are written before the game yesterday.

The Stats & Weekly Thoughts

Things are looking better! After dealing with so many players being out, playing Kyle Lowry for over 50 minutes, and way too many minutes to G-League guys, the Miami Heat are finally getting closer to full health. That’s the main thing.

It’s hard to win when you’re playing borderline NBA players starter minutes. Fortunately, that’s all behind us for now.

They didn’t start the week great, though. Losing a winnable game on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The ending of the game was tough. There was no one that could generate any kind of offense. Per Cleaning the Glass, they had a 95.2 offensive rating, which would be the second-worst this season.

Soon after that, Tyler Herro came back and immediately helped the team. Having him play makes a huge difference to the team, especially when it comes to setting up Bam Adebayo. Although the games were much closer than they needed to be, they were still able to close the games out and cap off the week on a two-game winning streak.

Looking at some stats(11/21/22-11/27/22):

  • Record: (L vs MIN, W vs WAS, W vs WAS)
  • Net Rating: +0.2 (per Cleaning the Glass)
  • Offensive Rating: 107.0
  • Defensive Rating: 106.7

Bam Controlling the Paint vs Minnesota

Adebayo had a not-so-good offensive game against the Timberwolves. He finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists on 7-for-18 shooting. And yet, he still found a way to impact the game that doesn’t quite show up in your box-score stats.

Adebayo was making perfect rotations to stopping cutters, stopping drives, and preventing shots from being taken. He was controlling the paint simply because of being at the correct place early.

In the first clip, Lowry calls out a switch and he’s there early to stop Jaden McDaniels on the cut, which completely stops him. If he reacts a second late, that’s most likely a bucket.

The third clip at the 13-second mark was the most impressive. Caleb Martin gets beat by Karl-Anthony Towns and he’s already waiting to stop that drive. Him being early and meeting him outside of the paint discouraged any kind of shot being taken.

That led to a kick out to Taurean Prince, who then beats Max Strus on the closeout. But that again doesn’t matter because Adebayo makes a second rotation that forces a turnover.

From just that 25-second highlight, Adebayo’s rotations prevented seven shots at the rim.

Hunting Porzingis

At the end of the first game against the Washington Wizards, there was a clear plan on offense. Get Kristaps Porzingis involved in a pick-and-roll. So, in the last few possessions of the game, it was a double screen for Tyler Herro set by Martin and Lowry.

The reason for those two being the screeners instead of Adebayo was that Porzingis guarding Martin. The reason for it being a double screen is to force the second defender to go over the screen. Having the second screen makes it more difficult for the defender to go under, as they always switched the initial screen.

That’s what happens here. With Lowry being the first screener, Corey Kispert can easily switch that. But then on the second screen, you’re not going to get Porzingis switched on Herro, so the defense is forced to do something else.

Good decision from Herro to quickly drive at kind of an angle after using the screen, which makes the recovery route longer for Kispert, and therefore Porzingis has to also stay attached.

But with both Adebayo and Haywood Highsmith around that strongside corner, there isn’t any room to drive, as Will Barton completely helps off Highsmith to prevent the drive.

This then opens up the pass back out to a wide-open Martin. And he’s able to beat Porzingis on the closeout easily.

Same exact play here, except I think Porzingis did a better job at not giving up the straight-line drive. This time, Herro still dribbled it out further but used his threat from deep to draw both defenders to him.

This again opened up a kick to Martin and it was an open 3. That’s a decent look for the offense.

I didn’t like this possession as much as the first two. Not sure what the thought process was from Herro after the first screen. Maybe, he was hoping to reject the screen and get downhill?

It still ended up the same with Herro bursting through after using the screen, which took both defenders to stay with him at the elbow. That opened up the kick to Martin, and that’s where I didn’t like what happened next.

There was no need for that hesitation from Martin(I feel like he often makes the decision to attack a closeout too late). He had Porzingis almost flying trying to recover. He could have attacked right away and Porzingis wouldn’t have had the chance to block his drive.

2 Sides of Herro’s PnR

In these two games against the Wizards, Herro had a lot of screens set for him, which resulted in one of two ways, and that depended on what type of coverage the Wizards threw at him.

If he was met with a switch or some form of an aggressive defense, there was no advantage created and it lead to some questionable shot selection.

The Wizards have plenty of solid wing defenders that can easily switch all of these actions.

When the defense switches, Herro is unable to create any separation for himself to get a shot off or get to the rim. All it happens is a few dribbles here and there, then passing it off. The ball sticks then and kills any ball movement offense.

And it’s these possessions that won’t show up on the isolation stats. He currently ranks in the 8th percentile in isolation, scoring 0.58 points per possession. What that number doesn’t factor in are those possessions where he passes it off.

And the times he does he does end up taking a shot off a switch:

You get possessions like this. And you get quite a few of them, too. It’s these shots that take the rest of the team out of rhythm and stall the ball movement.

If the defense chooses to show or blitz aggressively, that’s also another area where he struggled this game. He was unable to beat that pressure. He picked up the dribble too early, made a bad pass, or made a simple one-pass to the next closest player. That completely negates any advantage the offense had when there were two on the ball.

On the other hand, when he’s met with a drop, ICE, or even a soft blitz, he’s able to make the right read consistently.

He had 10 assists in the last game and all of those were great passes. If you give him a conservative defense, he can pick it apart, especially if his PnR partner is Adebayo.

Those coverages also allow him to pull up from 3(where he’s been torching the defenses with), get to the rim, or collapse the defense for a kick out.

This is the next step for his growth. He needs to improve the way he plays against various coverages. The offense can’t be built around that action if he can’t be stopped with a blitz or a switch.

Sure, these actions work now but come playoff time, these looks won’t be there. I remember Bob Myers discussing the difference between the regular season and the playoffs. And I love how he said whatever your first move is, whatever you’re best at, that’s gone. Your first move is gone.

That’s where I need to see how Herro can develop into punishing all kinds of coverages through his scoring and creating for others.