Breaking Down How Miami Heat Offense Will Change with Ray Allen on the Court

Zach Harper@talkhoopsContributor IIISeptember 5, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11:  (L to R)  Miami Heat President Pat Riley, Ray Allen  and head coach Erik Spoelstra announce the signing of Allen at AmericanAirlines Arena on July 11, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ray Allen is the greatest three-point shooter of all time, and he’s going to make the Miami Heat even more of a juggernaut.

Maybe you disagree and believe that there have been better shooters. There are certainly guys that have made a higher percentage than Ray. But considering he’s made the most threes in NBA history while still clocking in at 40 percent for his career, I think it’s safe to say Allen is the best three-point shooter ever.

When LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade and Joel Anthony in Miami, the immediate question that popped up was, “which role players are they going to surround themselves with?” Mike Miller signed to help out with shooting, and the next year, Shane Battier joined the band.

The idea was that if you surround Miami with role players that could also shoot the three, you’d have to think twice about helping off of any of the three All-Stars. And if you have to think twice or hesitate when rotating against LeBron, Wade or Bosh, then you probably have no chance of getting there in time to actually defend.

With Mike Miller’s body turning on him like a secret agent going rogue and James Jones’ refusal to dribble more than 37 times in a season (seriously, when’s the last time you saw him take two dribbles in a row?), the Miami Heat went after the best role player you can imagine for their system: Ray Allen. 

There are four ways in which Ray Allen just annihilates you with his outside shooting.


Spot-Up Shooting

I hope you’re sitting down for this, but Ray Allen is one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA. In fact, since he’s become more of a role player and less of a star with a higher usage rate, Ray Allen has become one of the most economical scorers in the league.

Last season, mySynergy Sports had Ray Allen as the 23rd-most efficient scorer when going by points per possession. This is because the majority of his shots come from spotting up, coming off of screens and spotting up in transition. When he’s spotting up from downtown, he’s at his absolute deadliest.


In this clip, try to forget about the insane pass from Rajon Rondo for just a moment. OK, never mind. Go ahead and freak out about that. I’ll wait for you to come back from the wormhole that is YouTube’ing ridiculous passes by Rondo.

OK, I assume you’re back by now. What makes Ray so fantastic is the way he moves without the ball while still keeping himself square to the basket. He’s rarely off-balance when receiving a pass. It’s part of the reason Allen was able to shoot 47.1 percent from three-point range on spot-up jumpers. He finds a way to get open.

When playing with Rondo (or now guys like LeBron and Wade), he waits for the defense to suck into the penetrator and then he goes the other way. It makes the help defender have to cover more ground. It sounds like very basic stuff, and it is. However, it’s enough to bring out an advantage for Ray when creating space from a defender that will be closing out on him.

Mike Miller is also good at this, but he’s primarily a guy that just waits for the defense to leave him and then makes them pay. He doesn’t move around a lot on the perimeter when he’s waiting for Bosh, Wade or LeBron to kick it out.

Miami shot the eighth best percentage on spot-up three-pointers in the NBA last season with 37.5 percent. The main shooter they just acquired shoots 10 percentage points higher than that. That aspect of their game could just become unfair.


Coming Off of Screens

There probably isn’t a shooter in the league right now that is better at coming off of screens for jumpers than Ray Allen. He curls off the screen perfectly and knows how to adjust his spacing coming off of those screens to get away from the screener’s defender.

In that quick hitter play from the Celtics last season, Allen adjusts his path off of the screen from going toward the wing to fading back into the corner. It makes his defender fighting through the screen completely unable to affect Ray’s shot. It’s that adjustment that turns these 23-foot launches into layups for a guy with his release.

Of the 793 possessions that ended in a field-goal attempt, free-throw attempt or turnover last season for Allen, 283 of them came with him coming off of screens. That’s how the Celtics used him 35.7 percent of the time on the floor because there isn’t anybody better at it. He also shot 42.3 percent from three on those possessions.

A lot of Miami’s stuff on these types of plays took a little longer to execute. James Jones is mainly a spot-up guy that doesn’t do a whole lot of moving on the court (and remember, he never dribbles). Now, Miami can get into its halfcourt stuff a lot quicker to catch teams off guard.

Miami was 18th in the NBA last season with 33.8 percent from three-point range with guys coming off of screens. Adding Ray Allen to the mix here opens up room for the guy initiating the offense to drive to the basket or for the screener to slip to the basket when they’re worried about a sniper turning the corner off of the pick.


Offensive Rebounding

Here’s a quick little aspect of Ray’s game that could be underrated. One of the more chaotic moments for a defense is when the offensive team grabs a rebound. Guys just naturally begin to leak out and head the other way because the defense so often ends up with the rebound.

When you’re leaking out against an offensive team that has Ray Allen on the court, you immediately have to scramble to find him. But we’ve already seen that he moves so well to get away from defenders on the perimeter by just stepping to the open spots on the side.

When you give up an offensive rebound to Miami next year, you’ve got to be frightened when trying to locate Allen. He doesn’t need much time or space to get off a good shot. Swarming him can only open things up for other players on the floor.


Transition Shooting

This is probably the biggest thing that will affect the Miami Heat.

Erik Spoelstra told WQAM on Tuesday that he wanted the Heat to play faster last year.

"I hope to play faster," Spoelstra said. "We turned it up a gear last year and I think we have the personnel to hopefully go even faster. I think with a normal training camp and a normal season we can build up that habit even more." 

How does acquiring 37-year-old Ray Allen help this team play faster?

The Miami Heat had the fourth-highest points per possession in transition last season. As you can see from the article by Tom Haberstroh, the Heat started off the year on a tear for pace and tapered off as the season went along.

It makes perfect sense that because the Heat are so successful in transition, their coach would want to do that more often.

Adding Allen to the mix helps this because he spreads the floor and allows them to attack the basket more.

A lot of defenders have a habit of watching the guy attacking the basket in transition. With LeBron and Wade on your team, you probably assume as a defender that there’s going to be a play at the rim and you lose focus of the guys roaming around the outside.

Well, Ray loves to roam. Again, he’s so good moving without the ball that he just floats over to the open spots on the floor.

The Heat do love to find open shooters on the perimeter in transition too. They were just 17th in the league in three-point shooting in transition last year at 35.2 percent, but it was a big staple of their offense. If they weren’t attacking the rim in transition and trying to draw fouls, they were kicking it out to get guys jumpers.

How Ray helps them even more is he can leak out once a jumper goes up. Despite everyone assuming Miami is a team that lacks much-needed size inside, the Heat gave up the 10th-lowest offensive rebounding percentage to opponents last year. They also caused the third-highest turnover rate for their opponents.

Miami knows how to get the ball going the other way, and once that happens, Ray gets to find a spot on the floor and force the defense to be respectful of his jumper. If they let him shoot, he made 40 percent of his transition threes last season. If they keep a man out on him, that’s one less defender to keep the attackers from getting into the paint. 

One last thing to consider with Ray is also clutch shooting.

The NBA’s stats website (only open to media members right now, but will allegedly be open to fans this coming season) tracks clutch shooting breakdowns in the following ways:

- Last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime within +/- five points.
- Last three minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime within +/- five points.
- Last minute of the fourth quarter or overtime within +/- five points.
- Last 30 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime within +/- three points.
- Last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime within +/- three points.

When you combine all of those shooting numbers, the Miami Heat made 201-of-256 (78.5 percent) from the free-throw line and 32-of-116 (27.5 percent) from three-point range in clutch situations last year. Ray Allen made 28-of-30 (93.3 percent) on clutch free throws and 16-of-29 (55.1 percent) on clutch three-pointers.

It’s likely the Miami Heat will still do much of the same stuff they did last year. But now it’s a lot more potent with the addition of Ray Allen.

Good luck, everybody. Remember to communicate, rotate hard on defense and to bring your holy water when defending them.


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