The Morning After: Josh Richardson Makes His Debut
The Miami Heat finally got in the win column as they returned home for their first preseason game on Biscayne Blvd. It was a tightly-contested game that saw Miami and the Orlando Magic play their rotation players for just about the entire game. Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo made their preseason debuts, who were dealing with some minor injuries prior to Monday’s action.
Right from the jump, Miami got Richardson involved in a facilitating role as he assisted on an early pick-and-roll basket with Hassan Whiteside, and then found Kelly Olynyk in transition for any easy score.
Apart from it being great to see Richardson continuing to evolve his abilities as a playmaker, one cannot help but wonder if the large usage in the beginning of the game was a showcase of sorts given the Jimmy Butler trade talks.
Despite showing some rust, Richardson showed off his complete game in his limited action on Monday, finishing with five points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block while having a team-leading plus-minus (plus-12).
— NBA (@NBA) October 9, 2018
Another guy who really made his impact in this game was none other than PRESEASON RODNEY. McGruder was the statistical leader for the Heat on Monday as he led the team in points, assists, field-goal attempts, and 3-pointers made. He put his mark on the game in the second quarter with a flurry of crisp offensive play that brought Miami back from a seven-point deficit.
Watching McGruder continue to grow as a pick-and-roll handler was an unexpected development to say the least, but it really speaks to the Heat’s ability to get the most out of its players. As of this moment, McGruder is in the 83rd percentile this preseason in pick-and-rolls, including passes, which would be a stunning improvement if it translates to the regular season.
Rodney McGruder is going to need some quality minutes in the rotation if he keeps playing like this. His offensive game looks so much better. Confident and aggressive.
— Will Manso (@WillManso) October 9, 2018
McGruder played 27 minutes and helped Miami hold onto a lead that dwindled throughout much of the second half. When it came to winning time, McGruder showed his confidence as he hit the final two jumpers of the game for Miami to seal the win. It’s hard to forget sometimes that McGruder is already 27-years old, but if he stays healthy, he has a great chance to have a breakout season.
Heat Stats Leaders (min. 10 minutes played)
• Points: Rodney McGruder (19 points)
• Rebounds: Hassan Whiteside (13 rebounds)
• Assists: Dragic, T. Johnson, and McGruder (five assists)
• Steals: Five tied (one steal)
• Blocks: Hassan Whiteside (three blocks)
• Offensive Rating: Josh Richardson (93.2)
• Defensive Rating: Josh Richardson (72.9)
• Contested Shots: Hassan Whiteside (12)
• Screen Assists: Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo (two screen assists)
• Loose Balls Recovered: Tyler Johnson (3)
• Tyler Johnson continues to struggle on the offensive end, which is a sign of concern for a player that Miami has $19 million of their cap allocated to this season. Johnson has been trying to add on a season that saw him improve as a secondary facilitator in the offense, but so far he has especially struggled trying to operate in the pick-in-roll.
As a pick-and-roll handler, Johnson is 1-of-10 from the field and is only creating .542 points per possession (via Synergy Sports) when you include his passes. He remains a reliable spot-up threat, but Johnson must be more than that if he is going to see consistent minutes this season.
• Small Sample Size Theater: Hmmmm Club Edition
So far this preseason, Justise Winslow is holding opponents to a field-goal percentage of 28.6 and 0.63 points per possession, which ranks him in the 82nd percentile, via Synergy.
In their first games, Adebayo and Richardson showed off their defensive chops holding opponents to a combined 4-for-19 from the field.
Yeah, you can probably pencil JRich in for another 100+ steals. Has always had great anticipation. pic.twitter.com/VKZZEk74fJ
— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) October 9, 2018
It will be interesting to see how much more the Hmmmm Club is able develop their defensive prowess.
• Heat Synergy Leaders Offense (percentile)
Briante Weber – 1.12 PPP (82nd)
Rodney McGruder – 1.10 PPP (80th)
Jarnell Stokes – 1.10 PPP (79th)
Yante Maten – 1.08 PPP (76th)
Hassan Whiteside – 1.02 PPP (69th)
• Heat Synergy Leaders Defense (percentile)
Josh Richardson – 0.27 PPP (99th)
Jarnell Stokes – 0.50 PPP (93rd)
Justise Winslow – 0.63 PPP (82nd)
Bam Adebayo – 0.67 PPP (79th)
Goran Dragic – 0.70 PPP (74th)