Hot: Haywood Highsmith is a confident shooter ⬆️
Coming into the season, internal expectations for Haywood Highsmith were high. His performance last postseason buoyed the organization’s confidence that Highsmith could be the next in line of development success stories like Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. All of those players went undrafted, found a home in Miami, and became not just important regular-season role players, but also guys Erik Spoelstra could trust in high-leverage moments in the playoffs.
Highsmith last postseason might have been Miami’s best option to guard Boston’s Jayson Tatum in the Eastern Conference finals, and logged meaningful minutes against the Nuggets in the NBA Finals. Highsmith’s defensive ability, at that point, had been solidified. He just needed to round out his offensive game and develop a reliable jumper and, maybe more importantly, confidence on that side of the court.
Over the summer, the Heat gave Highsmith, a career 33% 3-point shooter, an assignment: Work out with Robinson.
Robinson is one of the truly elite shooters in the NBA. He studies 3-point shooting and understands how to build an offensive game around it. If Highsmith picked any of that up even through osmosis, the Heat thought, it would be a win.
It’s early, but Highsmith through the preseason and three regular-season games has made 15 of his 27 3-pointers (55.6%). A majority of those 3s are coming from the corners – the spot from which role model PJ Tucker has carved a career – but every once in a while Highsmith will be feeling himself enough to launch from other spots, early in the shot clock. Again, confidence is important.
Although there are plenty of makes, I’m choosing to highlight this miss because it might be my favorite of Highsmith’s 3-point attempts this season. In semi-transition, LeBron James daring him with space, and Highsmith doesn’t blink. He goes right into his jump step and hoists an above-the-break 3 in front of the GOAT. That’s chutzpah, baby.
It’s a long season. Highsmith will have peaks and valleys. The Heat are hoping after the work he put in that the confidence never waivers.