What the Miami Heat have to focus on going into training camp

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 21: Josh Richardson
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 21: Josh Richardson /

The Miami Heat have a tough road ahead of them, and it all starts with key points they need to address during training camp.

Last year, fans saw a Miami Heat team struggling to crack their identity in the Eastern Conference, with the end result being a tight squeeze into the playoffs, with a quick first-round exit.

Not the ideal spot for a team fighting to remain a contender in the Eastern race.  

Their first stepping stone to a revitalized bounce-back season is training camp. The focal point, however, will be a combination of various aspects, both offensively and defensively.  

Despite being a playoff team and securing the sixth seed last season, the Heat have fallen drastically statistically, compared to the rest of the league.

While they remain a great team defensively, ranking in the top 10 in blocks per game (sixth overall in the league with 5.3 blocks per game), they lack defensive rim protection and aren’t as efficient in rebounding (43.5 rebounds per game, ranking 18th overall).

A trait that doesn’t exactly mesh well after being a top leader in blocks in the NBA.

In the top six categories ranked by NBA stats.com, they only crack two categories in the top 15.

The rest, they fall to the bottom half of the league.

That’s what separates the contenders from the lottery teams. Regardless of their playoff aspirations, they can not just settle for a lower seed, grasping at the eighth spot. They desperately need to address their central problems.   

They had a productive season behind the arc, but while their 3-point shots matched a season high with 903 made (notching the 11th spot overall), they still dropped to 16th in the league with a struggling 36.0 percentage.

It’s not bad, but compared to the top dogs, it doesn’t come close.

They need to work on their distribution behind the arc, as well as within the perimeter. Their offense needs to find a pattern that runs through those spots. This is fundamental, since they ranked again in the bottom half in points per game, as well as field goal percentage: 23rd with an average of 103.4 points per game, 17th with an average of 45.5 field goal percentage and 17th with an average of 22.7 assists per game.

They have flaws both offensively and defensively, but to be struggling on both ends statistically and drop year after year, is something that can’t continue if they want to take advantage of a LeBron James-less Eastern Conference.  

Breaking it down, these points are what the team must prioritize during training camp this month…

  • Pick and rolls, to find spot-up positions for 3-pointers
  • Defensive schemes that protect the perimeter under the rim 
  • Continual assists to define who has the clear shot
  • Breaking down offensive plays in transition, with a different ball general.  

The final exercise there can finally determine which rotation is the best fit moving forward.

Of course, no rotation will ever be set in stone, but it’s a smart move knowing at least which one will be the most effective and who complements who better, within the second unit.  

If all these areas are detailed and worked on, the Heat might have a better chance at surprising the league come October.

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Or at the very least, they can return their form to being a contender, instead of a team that the East should take lightly.