3 Reasons why Haywood Highsmith must be in Heat's playoff rotation

Haywood Highsmith is shooting 45% on corner threes. Is his volume too low to consider or does he deserve to be in the Miami Heat's playoff rotation?
Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Playing both sides of the ball is essential in winning basketball. But two-way players garner respect around the league because some players don't bring it defensively. Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith has been getting it done on both ends.

Highsmith's intensity turns heads. Night after night, he's at the top of the key in the Heats complex zone, working harder than anyone on the floor. Even when he transitions to offense, he outworks 99% of players. 

Even in Thursday night's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Highsmith showed why he belongs in Erik Spoelstra's playoff rotation. Here are three things Highsmith is doing to make himself invaluable.

1. Highsmith hustles all over the floor

Highsmith's motor is neverending. Baseline to baseline, even in the backcourt, one must stay alert and aware of Highsmith's presence.

During the tough loss against the 76ers, Buddy Hield fell victim to Highsmith's 94-feet coverage of the court. Highsmith's relentless energy is evident in the four steals he recorded, blowing up the 76ers' offense leading to Heat offense.

He must play in the Heat's playoff rotation if his exceptional energy and needed shooting contributions continue. 

2. Shooting the ball will keep Haywood in the rotation

Highsmith doesn't let the exhaustion of playing both sides affect him on the court. He is a cutter, a deadly knockdown corner shooter, and crashes the offensive glass with a determination that shows he's willing to do whatever it takes for the team. 

Make sure you're scanning the floor when you're playing with Highsmith. He cuts to the basket with purpose. His hands are always ready, and he's always looking back at the ball, looking to rack up easy baskets.

Tyrese Maxey briefly closed his eyes for a brief second, and Highsmith was gone. 

His cutting has never been the issue; he's been played off the floor in the past due to his lack of shooting. After shooting 34% on corner threes last season, he's up to a blazing 45% this season. When a team's game plan is to leave you open, you must make them pay. Over the last nine games, he's shooting roughly 60% on four three-point attempts per game. This could be a hot stretch, but these attempts are wide open. And on the season, Highsmith is shooting 40% on low volume.

But again, Highsmith can get these shots off whenever a drive and kick occur. His B-plus openness rating, according to BBallIndex, suggests that he usually has enough time to tie up those Kobe 6s he sports, considering how long it takes for defenders to close out (if they do). He has to have some role in the rotation if he's hitting open shots from the shortest deep shot in basketball.

3. Creating extra possesions is neccasary for Miami to succeed

Highsmith crashes the glass like he's possessed. He's not the biggest player on the floor, especially compared to centers with whom he battles for rebounds, but he backs down from nobody, and that heart showed up in his boarding number last night. 

Despite the tough loss to the 76ers last night, Highsmith had nine rebounds. He was battling in the trenches, boxing out to grab offensive rebounds. With the Heat's offense still looking mediocre as we approach winning time, Miami needs all the extra possessions we can get. 

Highsmith won't be a 20-point player, a dynamic playmaker, or a Rodman-like rebounder. But his scrappiness, willingness to take tough matchups, newly found shooting stroke, and energy all warrant series playoff minutes.