MINNEAPOLIS – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has settled into a nine-man rotation of late with James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Wayne Ellington receiving the majority of the minutes off the bench.
That leaves little floor time for rookie Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s first-round pick. Did Miami make a mistake selecting the 6-foot-10 big man from Kentucky? We answer that and more in our latest Heat mailbag.
If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpostcom.
From @AsherWildMan6: Looking back should the Heat have spent their first round pick on John Collins?
The Heat selected Adebayo with their first pick, 14th overall. Collins, the former Wake Forest star who played at Cardinal Newman High in West Palm Beach, was taken five spots later by the Hawks. Several mock drafts had the 6-10 Collins coming to Miami as many believed he’d be a nice fit for reasons that Asher mentioned: He is an above average scorer who could have filled a need with the Heat at power forward.
But it is easy this early to say that because Collins is averaging 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds and playing 23.1 minutes per game as opposed to Adebayo’s 3.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.3 minutes per game he would have been a better pick for Miami.
The Heat are overloaded with centers with Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, Adebayo and Jordan Mickey. And they have run through several starting power forwards before settling on Justise Winslow. And although it appears as if Adebayo has been slow to develop, I would give it time before saying the Heat made a mistake.
Adebayo, 20, has shown glimpses of what the Heat saw during his freshman year and workouts, especially during his season-high 31-minute outing against Minnesota when he had his only double-double with 13 and 13. Adebayo is as raw as any of the players taken in the top 20 of last year’s draft and when he’s on the court you can see the potential of someone who could be a solid NBA player for a long time. He is athletic, moves well around the basket and certainly knows how to finish when he receives a lob pass. And Adebayo is way ahead of Collins on the defensive end.
Even if Collins were drafted by the Heat, it doesn’t mean he’d be starting or playing nearly as much as he is with the Hawks, with one reason being his defense. But Collins is in a great situation as a young player on a team that is rebuilding and willing to play a rookie heavy minutes. I am not sure that Collins would be playing much more than 12 minutes a game if he were in Miami with Winslow and James Johnson receiving the bulk of the minutes at power forward.
From Jean, Boynton Beach: How big is this road trip coming up for the Heat? How important is it for them to stay around .500?
Before anything else, the Heat are searching for consistency and that is the reason this trip, which starts tonight in Minneapolis and continue with games in Chicago, Cleveland and New York, takes on additional meaning.
The Heat’s last four games are a snapshot of the season: Wins against the Wizards on the road and at home over the Celtics, who have the best record in the NBA; and home losses to Washington and by 25 points to the Pacers.
“Right now, it’s all behavior and habits,” Spoelstra said after the victory over Boston. “So, the test will be what we do for the next 48 hours. Guys really brought a purity to the work, a focus, a discipline the last two days and we got after it. It was training-camp level practices, but you’re not always able to do that during the course of the season, and snap into attention. So all those little things, that’s what I want to see. … It’s all about our behavior, our habits, our consistency, with all that before you even get to the final result.”
As long as Miami remains around .500 through a difficult month-long stretch of 14-of-19 games on the road – with three of those home games against Washington, Boston and Golden State – it should be OK. The Heat then have an opportunity to start pushing that record above .500 starting in the middle of December.