The Miami Heat scoured the free agent market for shooters, ending up with a remarkable haul in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
Miami’s new acquisitions will give them rotation flexibility for the coaching staff to play around with; this 2012-2013 squad could be otherworldly in defining how hybrid lineups are utilized in the NBA.
And yes, the revolution will be televised.
The “position-less” movement that I’m referring to gained the utmost credibility in June’s NBA Finals. The Heat disposed the Oklahoma City Thunder with a variety of small ball lineups and a rotation of shooters to go alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The results were staggering.
The Heat shot their best three-point percentage of the playoffs. Even Chris Bosh stroking threes from behind the arc became regular.
As good as the Heat's long range shooting was in the Finals, though, that 43 percent clip is not sustainable number that they can rely on. Not for 82 games, perhaps not for awhile in another playoff series.
They were the ninth-best three-point shooting team over the lockout-shortened season. Altogether they are a middle of the road jump shooting team, even with the plethora of open looks that come out of their offense.
So how did Pat Riley respond?
Ray Allen. Rashard Lewis. You can never have enough shooters.
Playing with LeBron James in particular, will open the floor for Miami two newest shooters like they have never seen.
What James has been able to do for Miami’s shooters has been career-altering.
Players such as Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Mike Miller have been able to make their living off open jumpers. This was before LeBron discovered his virtuoso talents in the post this postseason.
Adding that to the mix, Pat Riley saw bargains on the market he had to have.
Miami loves to get out in transition and that won't change with the addition of these two shooters.
Both Lewis and Allen will be used as trailing players when the Heat push the floor with their athleticism. The trailers are the second wave of offensive options that the initiators of the fast break can look to pass to if a fast break is defended well.
Allen had a ton of these looks with Rondo in transition while in Boston. Alongside Wade and James? Forget about it.
Those two will always know they have the all-time leader in three pointers trailing behind the fast break. Now that's a luxury.
Allen's role in the rotation will not differ too much from what he did in Boston. His lack of defensive capabilities render him a wing defender only—you won't be seeing the 35-year-old on Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo.
The Heat have had a void behind Dwyane Wade since the Big Three arrived in Miami, so Allen will be handling the backup duty defensively on 2-guards while taking on some shooters as well.
On offense, though, don't expect this transition for Allen not to be without growing pains.
The Heat offense will likely not have him running around a ton of screens for jumpers, much like he's done for the bulk of his career as a star in Milwaukee and Seattle.
With the Miami offensive going through how Wade and James attack the rim and open up the floor, it would be a sideshow and a waste of energy for the top three-point shooter of all-time.
Therefore, Allen will hang around the three-point arc for open threes, including a lot of corner opportunities that are generated through the offense.
For the first time in Miami's history with the Big Three, they have a shooter that defenses will have to account for. Before defenses would sag off on Chalmers or whichever big man Miami employed on the floor to assist defending a Big Three member.
Now spacing is guaranteed when Allen takes the floor.
That's why when a supporting cast of Allen, Chris Bosh, Chalmers or Battier is on the floor, the efficiency numbers could be staggering. Allen is a virtual lock to go one-for-three at worst from behind the arc—he's been averaging 44 percent on those attempts the last two season.
As for Lewis, there’s a reason that Miami was able to sign the former All-Star at such a discounted price: he’s only played in 57 percent of games the last two years.
In that time his scoring has dipped from 17 to 11 ppg, while his three-point percentage sunk so low he was almost in Andrew Bynum territory.
In addition, even with his 6”10’ frame, he has never been an willing rebounder. In 14 NBA seasons, he’s averaged seven rebounds or more only once.
By all accounts, the dollar bills affected Lewis’s work ethic and his team’s morale went down with him.
What Miami saw in Lewis, though, was a ton of untapped potential.
Even when Lewis he was shooting some of his worst percentages last season, he managed to shoot 48 percent between 16 feet and the three-point line. In 2010-11, a heftier sample size, he went 45 percent between 10 feet and the arc and 39 percent on jumpers altogether.
That range will be some of Lewis’s bread and butter within the Heat offense, similar to the long twos Udonis Haslem puts up regularly.
If Haslem goes cold, Spoelstra can insert Lewis to hit those same jumpers, and vice versa.
The Heat won’t be asking Lewis to do much more offensively than to hit those deep looks from 10 feet and out. Getting to the gym and hoisting up 10,000 shots will be easier knowing he doesn’t have to carry his team inside.
He won’t need to carry his team at all, for that matter.
When much of the burden to succeed was placed on Lewis, it equaled mixed results.
When his Magic snagged championship berth in 2009, he was the third or fourth option in crunch time. Those are the situations the Heat will put him in on the floor.
All this Miami nucleus has done without Allen and Lewis is make the NBA Finals. An influx of talent has arrived and its NBA Finals or bust from here on out.
Boy, the newest members of the Miami Heat are sitting pretty.