Luke Babbitt has not provided the Heat with what they expected when he was acquired from New Orleans last summer for a second-round draft pick.
Babbitt, a career 40 percent shooter from the field and three-point range with a 7.0 scoring average entering the season. was expected to spread the floor and be a scoring threat off the bench for a young, developing team.
But those nights have been rare. Although he has been forced to start more often than not (19 starts in 32 games), Babbitt has had an inconsistent season, especially from beyond the arc. Babbitt is shooting .359 on three pointers (.371 overall), but Friday’s 116-108 loss in Milwaukee was more of what the Heat expected. Babbitt made 6-of-9 shots from the floor, 4-of-7 on threes, and scored his season and Heat high of 16 points. It was the most threes he has made this season and just his fourth double-digit scoring game. He also had four rebounds, two assists and two blocks and played a season-high 31 minutes.
In the last two games, Babbitt had missed all but one of his nine attempts, including all five three-pointers.
Babbitt’s story this season is a snapshot of the entire team’s – a player who has not seen the results but continues to work hard hoping for that breakthrough.
Miami is 11-30, the second worst record in the league.
“He’s really been purposeful in his work, I really commend him for that,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Instead of getting frustrated, instead of getting overwhelmed with result, it’s so easy to do that in this league, all he’s doing is trying to work and see how he can help the team get better.
“This is what we planned with him, not necessarily this many minutes or starting, but have that kind of role where he can space the floor, where he can guard multiple positions and help us run offense and he showed that (Friday).”
Babbitt acknowledged the difficulty of the moving parts and changing roles because of so many injuries. And Babbitt was part of that, missing five games in early December because of a hip flexor and another because of illness later this month.
“I’m just trying to come to work every day and just work, just listen to the coaching staff, just play hard, figuring out what my role will be,” he said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”