MIAMI – Wayne Ellington remembers one of his early practices with the Miami Heat, when he made the mistake of a pump faking on a 3-point shot.
And paid the price.
“I didn’t know exactly what to expect from that standpoint,” Ellington said. “I just know when I got here (coach Erik Spoelstra) said ‘Let it fly.’ The first time I pumped fake he made me run up and back in practice. I said, ‘All right I won’t be doing that any more, I won’t pump fake.’ And that’s the result.”
The result is Ellington is on the verge of the most prolific season from long range in Heat history. The Heat’s mad bomber became the third player in team history to surpass 200 threes during Miami’s 119-98 victory over the Knicks on Wednesday, his four threes giving him 201 on the season.
Ellington needs just three to pass Tim Hardaway, whose 203 threes in 1996-97 is second on the all-time list before aiming for Damon Jones’ franchise record of 225 threes from 2004-05.
Ellington needs to average 2.4 on the Heat’s final 10 games to catch Jones. He is averaging 3.0 per game for the season.
“It’s a testament of the coaches here, testament of the work I put in,” said Ellington, who previous high was 149, which he made last season, his first in Miami.
“It feels good, it feels really good. Like I always say, I credit my teammates, coaches. My teammates for setting screens for me, getting me open and finding me. Coaches for believing in me. But at the same time, I got a long way to go. I’m not satisfied at all with 200 threes.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is not surprised with Ellington’s success, not after watching his work habits the last two seasons. Ellington’s motor never stops. And Spoelstra has started comparing those workouts to a wide receiver running routes.
“He never stops running,” Spoelstra said. “He’s the ultimate wide receiver. He’ll run 20 routs, knowing 15 of them are going to be decoys, but every single one of them looks like the real deal. And as soon as you relax for one count, that’s when he gets you. The overwhelming majority of, particularly young players, simply won’t put in that type of work to become that type of movement, catch-and-shoot player. It takes too much effort, takes way too much conditioning for most people.”
Ellington like the comparison.
“It’s very accurate just in terms of how I run routes over and over, just the reps I put in, same routes, same screens I come off of,” he said. “Since last season and last off season I’ve probably done it more than 10,000 times so now it becomes muscle memory.”
Ellington is seventh in the league in 3-pointers made and attempted. He has made 39.2 percent of this threes (201 of 513), which is ninth among players with at least 400 attempts.
“You do it enough, you have floor presence and you can do things without even looking down to find out where your feet are,” Spoelstra said. “Wayne trains like that. And it isn’t an accident but it takes a Jerry Rice-type maniacal, obsessive compulsive work ethic to get it right every single time and to run patterns full speed. You just don’t see players – mostly young players, but even older players – that will make that kind of effort, commitment and consistency commitment every single day to train like that. It’s much easier to do other things than train how to learn how to run a pick and roll with a ball in your hands.”