Miami Heat: How will the young guys look next season?

Bam Adebayo, Derrick Jones Jr, and Tyler Herro of Miami Heat( Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Bam Adebayo, Derrick Jones Jr, and Tyler Herro of Miami Heat( Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Miami Heat’s young guys took a leap during hiatus and with another break awaiting, they can take another. If that happens, this young core will be scary.

The Miami Heat are in a good place. They have veterans that still produce at a high level, they have players they brought in like Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala who have added to the team.

On top of that, they have a slew of young guys that have all had major roles on this team as well. That isn’t a random phenomenon either. We’ll come back to that though.

After listening to the latest episode of The Athletic associated podcast, The Nerdles, where they discussed rookies in the bubble, Ben Taylor made me think about something. Does the Miami Heat actually have any rookies?

You may think the answer is obvious and that is, of course, they do. But when you think about it, they don’t have rookies anymore.

171 days is the number between the exact end of the 2018-19 season and the first day of training camp.

140 days is the number between the day the NBA got suspended and the day it resumed.

Minus 31 days, the hiatus was almost the same length as the entire off-season for teams that didn’t make the playoffs. This means players had basically an off-season to just keep on working out and improving their game.

It’s clearly showing who was in the lab during the hiatus. That is what Heat Culture is built upon though, doing the work when no one is looking. Let’s get specific though.

Tyler Herro is not a rookie anymore. He isn’t and his game in the bubble has shown that every time he laces them up.

The Miami Heat got primetime production from their young guys all season, including the bubble. Were they the same players before and after the initial hiatus though?

Herro is not the same player he was in February, as he seems like he’s a different guy in almost every aspect of his game. If you look at his stats before the restart and after the start including the playoffs, you may wonder if they’re the same person, as he improved in every major statistic.

He improved his scoring while shooting more efficiently. He improved his playmaking, decision making, ball handling, and defense. He even increased his usage while not having a significant increase in his turnovers.

Plus, you don’t even have to see the stats. All you need to do is watch the games, you will see that this is not the same player and that he isn’t playing like an ordinary rookie.

An ordinary rookie wouldn’t be playing the most minutes, 24 ahead of second place in the category, especially when he was fourth in the regular season. Most importantly, an ordinary rookie doesn’t score 37 points in a must-win game in his first conference finals.

This is what Herro did in 140 days. And now you want to give him, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and Bam Adebayo yet another break? With a team like the Miami Heat and obviously, their Heat Culture, you can expect another leap from these young players.

But the question is this, how much can they improve? So, let’s see how these players could look in the 2020-21 season, whenever it starts.

Let’s continue with Herro. He already made leaps in almost every aspect of his game as I mentioned above. It wouldn’t be surprising or even unrealistic for him to do it again during this break. Because he’s such a young player and still technically just a rookie, any improvements would just jump out immediately.

If he improves mainly on his ball-handling and being able to control the offense without getting stripped or throwing careless passes, it is not unreasonable to think he could be their leading scorer at around 20 points per game in the coming season.

Now, let’s get to Adebayo because what he can improve on would take his game to a whole other level. He improved his shooting quite significantly in the playoffs.

First, his free throw shooting went from 69.1 percent on 5.3 attempts to 81.4 percent on 6.1 attempts, meaning he’s no longer a liability on the line. He also improved in his mid-range shooting.

In the regular season, he shot 22.3 percent on 94 attempts from mid-range and increased this to 42.4 percent on 33 attempts. Once he improves his ability to stretch the floor completely and with greater regularity, then it’s really over.

Finally, we get to Robinson and Nunn. Now I don’t see their improvements being as significant as Bam’s or Herro’s, but they will still make this team more deadly with improvements that I think they will make.

Robinson could further improve his ability to keep the defense on their toes by being able to get to the rim efficiently or incorporate some shot creation of his own. As for Nunn, I’m still a believer – he just needs to get his confidence back, go back to what he was, and take it from there.

So, Taylor is right. These aren’t rookies anymore.

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They had a whole off-season to work on their games. It has definitely shown and paid off.

Now, they’ll get another off-season to improve and soon the Miami Heat won’t have young guys. But, they will have established stars quite sooner than anyone might think.