Miami Heat: Max Strus Should Start Seeking Out Smaller Mismatches

Max Strus #31 of the Miami Heat dribbles against Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Max Strus #31 of the Miami Heat dribbles against Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
Miami Heat
Miami Heat guard Max Strus (31) passes the ball around Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (7)(Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports) /

Miami Heat: Max Should Be Punishing Tiny Defenders And Teams That Go There

In this example from, P.J. Tucker initiates for Miami, as Strus is being closely defended by Trae Young. Tucker performs a screen-handoff, which forces Onyeka Okongwu to switch with Young.

After Strus receives the handoff, he pivots and then proceeds to size up his defender.

Max then forces a well-contested layup, for which he was in pursuit of a possible foul call. The Hawks come away with the rebound helping along what would amount to a very slow start for the Miami Heat.

In situations like these, you would prefer for the Heat to explore a Trae Young mismatch — as the Atlanta star guard is 6’1” and 180 pounds in soaking wet clothes. Most of all, he’s a below-average defender, which makes this an easy post-up opportunity for Strus.

For Strus to add this kind of perspective into his game, giving him the ability to use it at his disposal, it would really dictate more movement in the offense around him. Most specifically, that would especially be the case when he’s running with the second unit.

The objective wouldn’t always be for him to score on smaller defenders, but to enable the chances to draw potential double-teams, thus creating an opening for cutters and shooters.

As of this season, Strus has accumulated zero post touches and a total of just 10 elbow touches, which ranks among the lowest of all Miami Heat players. While it’s currently not within his current outlook to provide much outside of shooting, because he already greatly excels in that category, Max still has that opening at age 25.

It does appear that coach Eric Spoelstra has fully embraced a mismatch-hunting perspective and he has the personnel to lean in that direction. Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Bam Adebayo, who returned on Monday against Toronto, have all greatly embraced this approach.

We’ve even seen it with Tucker, who spent most of his career as a corner specialist and is now one of the better operators in the post. This only proves that nothing is beyond limits for players to search for new elements, continue growing, and Strus should be next in line for it.

While he, realistically, won’t have enough chances to experiment with it, especially if all three of the Miami Heat’s stars are healthy for the latter half of this season, adding those skills fo his general future and down the line should allow Strus to continue to make a massive impact, while also extending his career.

Next. Fate And Injury Clears The Way For A Miami Heat Top Seed. dark

It’ll also enlarge the success story within the Heat’s development pipeline, as worthy prospects continue to evolve from the core. You just love to see it (though the rest of the league hates it).