The Launching Pad: Getting Killed on the Glass, A Whole Bunch of Zone, Herro Back to the Bench?

Insightlast month7 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.

The Stats & Weekly Thoughts

Sigh. The week started off so well with a convincing win against the Portland Trail Blazers who were undefeated at the time. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.

There was no shame in losing to the Golden State Warriors, but the way they did hurt. Let’s not even talk about the loss to the win-less Sacramento Kings. That was also another winnable game that just got away.

The Heat haven’t had the perfect start to the season, but it’s still early on and all of the issues are ones they can fix. It’s clear even after only seven games, however, that there must be a move made. It may be a week into the season, but it’s obvious this team needs some move to address its issues.

There are things they can do right now to improve, but certain issues can only be fixed by a trade.

They do have an easier upcoming schedule soon — six of the next seven games at home and that includes the Indiana Pacers and twice against the Charlotte Hornets.

Looking at some stats (10/25/22-10/31/22)

  • Record: 1-2
  • Net Rating: +1.8 (Per Cleaning the Glass)
  • Offensive Rating: 117.7
  • Defensive Rating: 115.9
  • Opponent Rim FG%: 75.0% (27th in the league)
  • Opponent Rim Frequency: 22.7% (3rd)
  • Starting 5: +11.7 in 42 minutes

Should Herro be Benched?

Woah, Woah, Woah! Benching a sixth man of the year that just got paid over 100 million? That’s a bold question to even ask, but I do think there are valid reasons why it would make sense and be better for him and the team. Now, I should also say him coming off the bench is less of the idea itself, but because it will stagger the minutes with him and Butler.

One key reason is he fits better that way. His role and the rotation coming off the bench suited him, Butler, and Adebayo more. Per PBP, last year, with all three on, the Heat had a 110 offensive rating — that number is better when one of Butler or Herro sits.

  • Herro/Adebayo without Butler: 121 offensive rating(Off Rtg) in 428 minutes
  • Butler/Adebayo without Herro: 114 Off Rtg in 793 minutes

When you add Kyle Lowry to the mix, the numbers differ even more:

  • Herro/Lowry/Adebayo without Butler: 125 Off Rtg
  • Lowry/Butler/Adebayo without Herro: 115 Off Rtg

This was more emphasized with the change in the rotation later on in the year. Once they made the change where Butler subs out first, their offense peaked. Although it’s a smaller sample, that trio without Butler from March 20th had a 131 Off Rtg. This was also similar without Herro where that trio had a 126 Off Rtg.

This year, these minutes have completely flipped. Whatever combination of a trio from those four players you choose, they all play around 20 minutes per game together. Last year, that number was around 10.

That’s a big change for a player and for the team. And it could have worked — it still may work, if there are changes to offense and players play their role. But even then I think the individual players and teams are more maximized then.

Is Herro a Creator?

Staying on the Herro topic, the last game against the Kings made me think about what kind of player Herro is on offense. He scored 32 points and they didn’t seem to impact the offense — not blaming him for the loss, though.

When looking around the league and seeing other on-ball creators that can have an offense run around them, I don’t see Herro near that tier at the moment. He’s closer to an off-ball play finisher with small bursts of on-ball creation. He’s a guy that is a sparkplug and can get you a bucket, make tough shots, and have flashes of creation.

The players that have offenses built around them, can create consistently for themselves, punish various schemes successfully, and create good looks for others.

Right now, he’s scoring 1.30 points per possession as the ball handler off a pick-and-roll. That’s elite, and yet I don’t see that impact translate to the offense. The defense will gladly let those shots go off and live with the result.

That’s what happened against the Celtics where he was making those tough shots and they let him. And if the defense does adjust, I don’t see him then continuing to punish the defense by creating looks for others.

Zone Defense & Rebounding Issues

The Heat against the Warriors went to a lot of zone. That’s been known with Erik Spoelstra, but it’s kind of surprising to see that much this early on.

The zone worked so well for the most part. They played 29 possessions in a zone and allowed 0.79 points per possession, according to Couper Moorhead.

You can see in all of the clips, they didn’t allow a single soul inside the arc to get into the paint. The Heat allowed only 15 attempts at the rim (that’s a rim frequency of 16.3, which would be the second-lowest of the season).

The main issue was unable to secure the rebound. The Heat may have played elite defense for most of the shot clock, prevent inside shots and force tough outside shots, but all of that was negated because of an offensive rebound.

Take this play:

The Heat again do a good job rotating and Max Strus contests the shot from Andrew Wiggins. But then you have one guy completely not boxed out and even with Duncan Robinson trying to box out, JaMychal Green goes around with ease.

There was also one other play against the zone that the Warriors managed to beat:

At first, everything looks solid. Everyone is doing what they’re supposed to and it’s working like the previous possessions. You have players staying put against the shooters, Adebayo covering James Wiseman in the paint, and Gabe Vincent helping on the flash from Green in the middle.

But here, you have Jordan Poole relocating from one corner to the other. Ideally, you don’t want Adebayo stepping out from covering the paint. That’s why when Poole cut on the first time, Caleb Martin went with him. And as Poole is cutting across, Andrew Wiggins goes to set a pindown for an open 3.

Finally, as mentioned above, the offensive rebounding killed the Heat this game. The Warriors’ offensive rebounding percentage(the percentage of their own misses that they rebounded) was 44.7 percent.

And the majority of these rebounds weren’t because of a size advantage. On some, it wasn’t even because of hustle. It was lazy defense, missed rotations, leaving guys open under the basket, and ball-watching that allows cutters to come swooping in. There were too many times with guys simply watching the ball.