Ray Allen of the Miami Heat donning his new colors.
After storming through the 2012 NBA playoffs and winning their first title of the LeBron James era, the Miami Heat's offseason addition of Ray Allen sent shock waves throughout the entire league. Although Miami's philosophy has always been about putting James and Dwyane Wade in positions to drive to the basket, Allen will add a whole new dimension to an already potent offense.
Ray Allen's ability to score at any time and from any place on the court will force opposing coaches to radically change the methods in which they choose to defend the Miami Heat. With that, it will open up a whole new playbook for head coach Eric Spoelstra to experiment with.
To say Ray Allen is an ideal fit for the Miami Heat's offense would be an understatement.
He is one of those rare talents that does not need the ball in his hands to be successful. His presence alone will force opposing defenses to extend themselves, which will create even more space for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to operate. So while James and Wade will remain the Heat's primary ball-handlers, the threat of Allen on the perimeter will make the Heat's offense run more efficiently.
That being said, it's not likely that Pat Riley signed Ray Allen to become a three million dollar per year decoy, either. In fact, Allen shot a career-high 45.3 percent from three-point range last season, which was 11 percentage points above the Miami Heat's team average. If he remains healthy, he undoubtedly has the ability to contribute significantly to Miami's upcoming title defense.
Throughout the season, there will be several plays that Eric Spoelstra will call specifically for Ray Allen, and look for him to wreak havoc on opposing defenses when given the opportunity. In particular, these are four plays that you should look for Ray Allen to be most effectively utilized with.
Ray Allen has been in the NBA for 17 seasons. During that time he has acquired an elite, uncanny ability to read a defense and take what it gives him.
In the video above, you see Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O'Niel set up on either side of the offense as Allen pretends he's going to run off a double-screen to the left side. As the defense reacts, Allen reverses direction and flashes to the right corner off yet another screen set by Kevin Garnett. Rajon Rondo gets Allen the ball, and he drains it from three-point range.
The scary part about this play is that the Kings defended this play about as well as anybody possibly could. By the time Allen gets the ball, the shot is immediately contested. There is not much else a defense can do at that point.
However, now that Ray Allen is a member of the Miami Heat, the scenario gets even more dire for opposing defenses. On top of having to deal with Allen running off of several screens along the baseline, you have the most lethal, athletic, versatile player in the NBA in LeBron James handling the ball.
This is basically a case of pick your poison. Either extend your defense to stop Allen from hitting the three and invite LeBron James drive towards a poorly defended basket, or leave Ray Allen open for a corner three. In all likelihood, Allen will find himself open several times per game coming off screens similar to the video above.
The Miami Heat have three elite NBA superstars on their roster in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Over the past two seasons, James and Wade have primarily specialized in driving to the basket and forcing opposing defenses to either let them score, or put them on the foul line. The matchup nightmares that these three players alone can cause are impossible for almost any team to compensate for.
However, with the addition of Ray Allen, these mismatches will be magnified. In the video above, LeBron James drives to the basket and makes an incredible pass through a mind-numbingly tight space to Dwyane Wade for an easy layup. However, if you notice, the defense is about as packed in as you can get. By the time James makes his move to the basket, there are four Indiana Pacers standing in the key ready to defend the hoop. James still found a way to make the pass through the immense traffic.
With Ray Allen on the roster, this play is going to be much more routine. As you can see in the video, there was no attention paid to Mario Chalmers (#15) who was standing wide open from three-point range. Next season, that's going to be Ray Allen standing there, and he is about as close as you can get to being automatic from that range with that much space. So teams are either going to have to defend LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with one less player, or leave Ray Allen wide open from three-point range. Either way, it's a lose-lose scenario.
Although Ray Allen does not create much for himself at this late stage of his career, he is still an underrated ball-handler. His ability to score from anywhere on the court often forces defenders to overplay him, which enables him to make some plays with the ball in his hand.
In the video above, you'll see Allen and Kevin Garnett run a conventional pick-and-roll. As Allen comes off the screen from KG, it creates an easy mid-range jump shot.
This season, we will see Allen run the pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh. If there is one thing everyone knows about Ray Allen, it's that he does not need much space to get off a high percentage shot. If Chris Bosh can create just a smidgeon of extra space off the screen for Allen to operate, we will see Allen score some pretty easy buckets.
With the addition of Ray Allen, the long standing debate on who should take the last shot at the end of a game for the Miami Heat just got a little more interesting.
Although either LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would surely be better candidates if the team only needed two points, Ray Allen is currently the best three-point shooter on the roster.
In the past, the Heat have turned to Mario Chalmers and James Jones to take three-point buzzer beaters at the end of games. While both are serviceable shooters from long distance, Ray Allen is possibly the best ever. With his vast big game experience, the Heat will surely turn to him to make some clutch shots throughout the course of the season.