Marcus Smart + TJ McConnell
António Dias: Sexton would be my choice, but Alex already did a great job of breaking down that option, so I would go for two names that may not be as sexy as the others, but would bring something the team needs. Marcus Smart has the point-of-attack defense and switching ability Erik Spoelstra would appreciate, with some all-around offensive punch (especially getting Bam involved), while McConnell is one of the best drivers and table-setters in the league and would bring a great offensive punch to the second unit.
The Heat’s backcourt can’t contain the ball. Herro is mercilessly attacked by opposing offenses and can’t keep up with the volume. Lowry can’t move his feet, so he has to guard off-ball players and look to use his IQ and grit to have an impact. Josh Richardson has struggled against ball-handlers all season, taking weird angles at the point of attack and not dealing well with size and/or strength. You can’t ask Butler to be that guy at this point in his career, which leaves you with Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith, two wings that come off the bench. So you have to go to the market and get that player for the starting lineup. And that player might as well be Smart, if the Grizzlies are selling low on his contract. Smart will be out for at least five more weeks with a finger injury, but should be healthy in time for the playoffs.
On the other end of the court, the Heat are one of the worst teams at getting to and finishing at the rim. They have been great from 3-point range, but are below average on 3-point attempts. And that’s because their shot creation (and their shot creators) will mainly get them mid-range shots. The Heat can’t get to the basket, they for sure can’t finish there and that makes them unable to bend defenses and get open 3s with ease.
Enter McConnell. At 12.1 drives a game (and he’s at 16.9 minutes per game), he would be second in drives on this Heat team. With 56.2% on field goals and 1.4 assists from those drives, he would rank first in both categories on this team. So he might not be what people want, but at $8.7 million and only $5 million guaranteed next season, he might be exactly what the second unit needs, with Smart taking that starting role.