Christmas Day Match-Up: Miami vs. New Orleans
With Miami’s Christmas Day game vs. the Pelicans tomorrow (and let’s be honest, the unofficial, yet universally recognized real start of the NBA season), now seems like a good time to take stock of what may be addling this Heat team most.
It was no secret coming into this season that Miami’s biggest offensive question mark would be their three-point shooting, and now as it’s played out for all to see, it seems clear that the off-season doubts concerning the team’s perimeter shooting had been entirely warranted.
In their last outing against the Pistons, Miami shot just 4 of 18 from three, while Detroit converted on 15 of their 29 three point attempts, ultimately besting the Heat 93-92. It’s the second time in as many matchups against Detroit that Miami has been severely outmatched from long range, and it’s become an all too common trend for the team throughout the season.
In a new league landscape in which the three has become more important than ever, the Heat rank 25th in three-point percentage, and looking at the teams ranked below them, Miami can’t like the company they’re keeping. The five teams shooting worse than Miami from three have a combined record of 41-108, and of those five teams, only Memphis would currently make the playoffs.
With their best three-point shooter Tyler Johnson sidelined with a shoulder injury and players like Goran Dragic and Josh McRoberts (when he decides to shoot instead of throwing behind-the-back, through-the-legs bounce passes) shooting well below their career averages from deep, the team generally seems to lack a consistently dependable threat from deep.
So where in lies the solution to Miami’s three point woes? Well it might just be on the team Miami plays tomorrow afternoon.
A couple of weeks ago, reports surfaced saying Pelicans stretch four Ryan Anderson was available and on the trade block. Shooting 39% from three and converting two threes per game, Anderson would be a huge coup for Miami and their bench. However, it remains in question whether Miami has the assets to complete a trade for Anderson.
Unless New Orleans is willing to part with Anderson for the expiring contract of Miami’s Chris Andersen in addition to some trade exceptions (which they’re almost certainly not), any trade for the Pelicans forward would almost certainly have to involve Heat forward Luol Deng in order to work out salary-wise.
So let’s look at these two side-by-side to see if the swap would be worthwhile for either team.
It seems entirely unlikely that the Pelicans would be willing to make this trade straight up, and while Miami would bolster their perimeter shooting, the team would lose one of their better perimeter defenders in Deng, thrusting either rookie Justise Winslow (shooting just 25% from three) or Gerald Green into the starting lineup. There may be some other configurations the two teams could tool around with, but the two key cogs of the trade above don’t seem to make much sense, especially for New Orleans.
If Miami is to truly compete in The East, the team is going to have to find a remedy to their three point ailments. Whether that remedy currently lies on their roster or in the form of a trade remains to be seen, but an issue that may hamper any potential trade is the team’s dearth of tradeable assets.
It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which a team would be willing to part with a valuable three-point shooter in return for the expiring contracts of Chris Andersen and Luol Deng, and with last season’s deadline swap for Goran Dragic, Miami doesn’t have a first round draft pick until 2018.
photo via llananba