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Daily Babble: Pure Point Not the Need in Miami

In a completely unexpected turn of events, the Miami Heat are reportedly looking for point guard help.

Or not.  Well, the Heat are looking for point guard help.  But the idea that this qualifies as an "unexpected" turn of events is highly doubtful, given that Miami entered the season with a heading-over-the-hill Jason Williams and reigning NBA LVP Smush Parker expected to be their leading floor generals.  Williams has endured a rough start to the season, falling into a major shooting slump both from the field and at the line, and Parker had been his usual unproductive self in the few spare minutes in which he played prior to an odd run-in with a parking attendant (reportedly over a sum total of $12) that got him suspended from the team indefinitely.  Not good times in South Beach.

Just a quick thought today on Miami's apparently ongoing search for help at the one: It isn't worth overpaying for someone who would traditionally be considered a true point guard; a great penetrate-and-kick guy or some sort of visionary distributor.  With Dwyane Wade and a going-over-the-hill-but-not-quite-there-yet Shaquille O'Neal on this team, that simply isn't the need.

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Wade sits at third in the NBA in usage rate, eating up 31.2 of every 40 Heat possessions.  As someone who isn't a great outsider shooter -- he sits at .091 from three this season and .242 for his career, in addition to the fact that his midrange game is at its best when he is creating off the dribble -- Wade doesn't necessarily benefit all that much from being able to hang out on the outside in anticipation of open looks thanks to great penetration from the point guard.  In fact, just the opposite is the case.  The Heat are at their best offensively when the ball is primarily in Wade's (and occasionally in Shaq's) hands, leaving him room to create off the dribble and get in the lane, as he can certainly score (22.7 points per game this year, and he is just starting to get hot) and create for his teammates (6.4 assists per) as well.  

Flash functions as a mix of both scorer extraordinaire and offensive commander for the Heat.  As such, what the Heat need more than anything else at the point is someone to fill the role Damon Jones did in 2004-05, when he shot career highs of 45.6 percent from the field and, more importantly, 43. 2 percent from the three-point line.  This was no coincidence, as having Wade and Shaq (both good passers at their positions) on the floor forced defenses to stay tightly packed inside, which left wide open shots for the supporting cast.  Jones was at the time a low-cost player who had the right skill to take advantage of this hole in opposing defenses, and it wound up opening the floor for all parties in Miami uniforms.

On the current squad, Williams is shooting a pedestrian 36.8 percent from deep and just 40.7 percent from the floor, and his career numbers in those areas are only 32.3 and 39.7 percent respectively.  Parker has long been known for his inability to shoot the rock from the outside.  That said, it should be no surprise that the offense has struggled mightily. Particularly with the onset of Shaq's decline, this team must shoot the ball well from deep to be effective and to allow for more space to be had by the head honchos.  Sitting at 14th in the league at 35.2 percent from the outside simply won't do it.  Staying frugal and bringing in a shooter rather than overpaying for a more traditional point would be the right start back in the other direction.

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