The Launching Pad: We Got Shooters?, “Herro” Shots, Transition Defense Woes

Insight3 weeks ago6 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

The Miami Heat have a winning record for this week! Finally. For the first time this season, they’ve been able to have a two-game win streak. They kicked it off with a solid win against the Golden State Warriors and it took a game-winner from Tyler Herro to beat the Sacramento Kings.

Unfortunately, the streak didn’t last long, as they lost to the Indiana Pacers. What made this loss frustrating is the fact that the Heat had a 96.1 offensive rating and a 45.1 percent effective field goal (eFG) percentage against a team that ranks 25th on defense and allows a 55.7 percent eFG percentage. Despite going against one of the worst defensive teams, they weren’t able to crack 100 points.

Though, this week has still been trending upward. There are still some of the same questions being an issue each week, but some are beginning to resolve themselves.

For one, their defense has been looking much better since the start of the season. They’re also not only surviving Dewayne Dedmon’s minutes but actually winning them!

But, let’s go over the remaining questions from the week:

Looking at Some Stats (11/1/22-11/7/22):

  • Record: 2-1
  • Net Rating: 2.1 (Per Cleaning the Glass)
  • Offensive Rating: 109.9
  • Defensive Rating: 107.8 (down from 115.9 last week)
  • Starting 5 in the last 2 games: 28 min (+18.5, 123.7 offensive rating, 105.1 defensive rating)

“Herro” Shots

This week, Tyler Herro had two chances at a game-winning basket. One went in and one didn’t — both were bad shots. I don’t understand the decision to go for these types of shots when there’s plenty of time left on the clock.

These types of shots that Herro took are bail-out shots. They are the ones you take when there are under 3-4 seconds on the clock. They are the ones you take where you simply don’t have any other option.

I also understand that Erik Spoelstra most likely drew up the last play for Herro. I agree that in most cases, your best decision-maker or shot-maker on the floor should have the ball in their hands. There are only a handful of situations where I’d hope some specific play would get drawn up.

But I also believe that Spoelstra ended his play calling with Herro having the ball. I don’t think he specifically instructed him to wave off a screen and take a contested step back. That is on the player.

There was plenty of time left for Bam Adebayo to set a screen and make a decision on that. That was just poor judgment to wave off the screen. A player should also know their weaknesses. One of Herro’s main weaknesses is that he can’t create without a screen in isolation.

This year, he has had 18 isolation possessions that have ended in a shot, turnover, or a foul. He’s scoring 0.61 points per possession (PPP). He’s 3-for-12 on those shots.

Now, I don’t have an issue with Herro taking the shot or having the ball in his hands. The issue is with these types of shots and that applies to any player.

This Team Needs Shooters

When looking at this team in general, there aren’t significant differences in their 3pt attempts per 100 possessions or their 3pt rate.

Here are their 3pt attempts per 100 possessions and their 3pt rate over the past four seasons:

  • 3-point attempts: 35.7 → 37.5 → 37.2 → 35.0
  • 3-point rate: 41.9 percent → 43.2 percent → 42.2 percent → 40.0 percent

You can see there’s a slight decrease in both numbers, but not something significant or glaring. The difference, however, comes from the starters. For the first time in the Jimmy Butler era, they are without a high-volume movement shooter in the lineup.

On paper, that should be good. They are, after all, replacing a specialist with Herro. But teams aren’t built on paper or just who’s the better talent — we’d have the Brooklyn Nets winning more games then.

The starting lineup this season is shooting 43.7 percent from deep, which is elite. The issue is they’re attempting 27.2 3s per 100 possessions and their 3-point rate is 30.0 percent, which would both rank last. That’s a significant difference compared to last year’s starters, which attempted 35.9 3s and had a 3-point rate of 40.1.

As currently constructed, with both Butler and Adebayo on this team, this team can’t afford to have this low 3-point volume.

There are two solutions for this, though. Either Herro turns into a high-volume shooter, running around screens, and being a dribble-hand-off merchant — essentially replacing Duncan Robinsons or Max Strus’ role. Or one of those two must start.

This year, with one of Robinson or Strus on, the Heat are attempting 35.2 3s per 100 possessions and have a 3-point rate of 40.5 percent, but are shooting a mere 29.3 percent. With both on, they are attempting 42.3 3s and have a 3-point rate of 49.4 percent.

I think one way of trying to show some impact of having a movement shooter is through the team’s rim frequency and their rim field goal percentage:

A two-year sample is significant and it’s clear that the team shoots better at the rim with one of them on the court. This has also been the case when it comes to individual player’s stats at the rim:

All three of them get to the rim significantly more when at least one shooter is on.

I don’t know who needs to be replaced but one of them must start.

Interesting Tidbits

  • The Heat had 17 assists against the Pacers. But there has been a clear trend for the Heat (and the league) that a team is likely to lose if they have lower than 20 assists. More ball movement = better offense.
  • Per PBP Stats, they allow 1.01 (3rd) PPP off a made field goal but allow 1.18 PPP off a miss. Seems that transition defense is still hurting them.
  • They allow 1.35 PPP off a 3-point miss and 24-for-27 at the rim. Their lack of shooting is killing their defense with those long rebounds leading to easier shots in transition.
  • In the last two games, the Heat have an 82.9 offensive rating without Herro on the court.