The Miami Heat may have found their productive second unit

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30: Dion Waiters
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30: Dion Waiters /

With another heartbreaking loss added to the column, the Miami Heat came out with a great discovery about their second unit.

The Miami Heat have experimented with various rotations as they continue to intrigue Heat fans everywhere. Their first couple of games had so many lineup changes that confusion swarmed fans with uncertainty over their starters, as well as the second unit.

One rotation switch that eventually led to an unexpected lineup change, did completely the opposite of what everyone was expecting. It produced a pretty solid net rating, resulting in a respectable defensive rating, fixing what Miami had desperately tried and failed to maintain.

Without their defensive minded stars in both Rodney McGruder and Hassan Whiteside, head coach Erik Spoelstra has been tasked with an extremely difficult, and at times exhausting, situation. That is, to figure out which rotation is the most useful to relieve the starters, without losing traction and defense.

And they might have finally found that right combination for the time being: James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Dion Waiters, and Justise Winslow.

Now that’s a lineup I can get on board with.

This is something that truly works for various reasons, the first one being the potential to keep up with the transition game while playing small ball. And with this lineup, defense won’t be much of an issue. Of course, Miami still ranks No. 23 overall in the league in defensive rating, while allowing an average of 109 points per game. But despite that, this lineup has found a way to maintain a solid average both offensively and defensively.

On the defensive side, Olynyk and Winslow have stood their ground while pressuring their opponents into contested points in the paint. Combined collectively with this lineup, they are averaging 77.3 percent defensive rating with an overall net rating of 96.3 percent. Now granted, this isn’t the best lineup offensively, since that consists of inserting Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson instead of Winslow and James Johnson. But the former lineup has a better overall balance, that keeps up with both sides of the court.

It can and will continue to stay that way, only if Waiters maintains that explosiveness that he showed in Miami’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. As it currently stands, Waiters is averaging 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. Last game he blew up for 33 points on 14-of-28 shooting. He needs to keep that aggression going. That’s what leads this improved second unit.

We still lack a big man when going one-on-one with today’s elite bigs, and that’s where Bam Adebayo comes in. Against experienced fast big men like that, Olynyk can still try to hold his own. But if unsuccessful, Bam has started to show spurts of athleticism defensively that can become a threat with enough patience and time. It’s honestly something to get excited about.

With Miami struggling defensively and sitting No. 13 in the Eastern Conference, these second unit lineups are going to continue to change while Spoelstra finds that right relief for the starters. With Whiteside out, it’s going to need to happen sooner rather than later.

Next: There were plenty of positives in the Miami Heat's loss to the Timberwolves

Let’s just hope we see more of this lineup moving forward, to try to balance out their game until Miami is back to 100 percent.