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Passing of the guard by the Miami Heat may happen sooner rather than later

The Miami Heat may have lost the battle against the Lakers in Los Angeles, but won the war of developing their young talent that evening.

The same night in Sioux Falls Duncan Robinson made 10 treys on the way to 32 points, while Yante Maten almost garnered his 6th consecutive 30 point game with a 29 point effort.

Maten at 22 years of age adds another potential layer to the Heat’s outstanding efforts by their 22 and under players, who have impressed fans in Miami’s last six games.

The table below shows the young ones exceeded the efforts of their more experienced teammates in +/- numbers per 100 possessions in the last six games.

Miami Heat Last Six Games

PLAYER AGE GP +/- NETRTG DEFRTG
PLAYER AGE GP +/- NETRTG DEFRTG
Derrick Jones Jr. 21 3 16.5 15.1 97.7
Bam Adebayo 21 6 16.1 15.6 94.1
Justise Winslow 22 6 13.6 14.1 93.1
Kelly Olynyk 27 6 13.5 14.6 93.9
Dwyane Wade 36 6 12.3 13.4 96.0
Tyler Johnson 26 3 8.9 7.8 95.5
Josh Richardson 25 5 0.6 0.3 106.4
Rodney McGruder 27 6 0.0 1.6 101.5
Wayne Ellington 31 3 -14.4 -13.8 114.9
James Johnson 31 6 -14.7 -13.8 116.9
Hassan Whiteside 29 3 -15.0 -15.5 112.4

While Derrick Jones Jr., Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow are under 23 years of age, don’t let that number fool you since they aren’t rookies.

Winslow has 3 seasons in the pros under his belt, Jones Jr 2 seasons, and Adebayo 1 season, i.e. they’ve competed against grown men in the NBA.

Meanwhile over the last six games Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson and Wayne Ellington, whose ages average over 30, all have +/- of -14 points per 100 possessions.

The net ratings give a very similar picture compared to the +/- rankings in favoring the bearly legal talents.

Putting Goran Dragic in the mix with Ellington, Whiteside and J. Johnson gives the Heat four players 29 years and older, not named LeBron James, sharing the court in the new fast-paced game.

While Adebayo, Jones Jr. and Winslow aren’t All-NBA talents individually, their combined length and motor disrupt the opposition’s flow on offense.

In this sequence Lance Stephenson blows by Josh Richardson and Winslow to meet Jones Jr. at the rim for a rejection.

Maybe one or two defenders won’t get the stop, but when Miami has multiple players ready and able to protect the rim a kickstart campaign may do the trick.

The next stage in the evolution of Winslow, et al lies in shutting down other team’s starters, instead of the bench players the rotation players have faced thus far.

Much as a Whiteside and four munchkins lineup fits the current small-ball blueprint, a ”Big Five” lineup of 6’6” and over players may present a path to beautiful basketball for the Heat in Miami going forward.

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