The Miami Heat finished the 2020-2021 regular season with a record of 40-32. At one point early in the season, Miami sat seven games below .500 but found itself eight games above .500 at the season’s end.
It was a difficult season for every team and the Heat certainly had their fair share of COVID-19 related issues and injuries. Multiple players being out caused Miami to never find its rhythm until the very end of the season.
The Heat ended their season with the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, which could be disappointing depending on the expectations some brought into it. Here are some takeaways from Miami’s regular season.
Duncan Robinson will be able to improve drastically
Duncan Robinson went into this year coming off one of the best shooting seasons in NBA history. Robinson didn’t shoot as well, but other areas of his game showed drastic improvement from the first game on.
By the eye test, it is easy to tell that the 27-year-old sharpshooter has started to improve on the defensive end of the floor. He is no longer a huge liability on defense and has shown the ability to secure stops and make winning plays.
Robinson tied for 14th in the NBA for most charges drawn and was third on the Miami Heat in loose balls recovered behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Robinson showed hustle throughout the whole season, which wasn’t as prominent last year.
He also showed improvement on the offensive end despite that his field goal percentage was down from 47.0% to 43.9% this season. Robinson showed an ability to create his own shot and was more willing to attack the basket.
Such as the play below, Robinson was willing to attack instead of settling for a shot outside or passing out.
Beyond that, Robinson will be a restricted free agent this season and should be paid handsomely. Miami needs to make sure that Robinson doesn’t leave its organization because there’s more potential to unlock in him.
Kendrick Nunn has proven his worth to the Miami Heat
Kendrick Nunn didn’t show much in the NBA’s Bubble after suffering from symptoms due to COVID-19. Nunn was thrown out of his rhythm and wasn’t like himself during last year’s playoffs
But, that was out of the way by the time the 2020-2021 regular season began. Nunn finished the regular season averaging 14.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while averaging 29.5 minutes in 56 games.
Nunn’s numbers were very similar to his 2020 totals, but he did improve his field goal percentage from 43.9% to 48.5%. The 25-year-old guard showed more consistency, especially down the stretch with Jimmy Butler.
He averaged just above 18 points per game in the last 10 games when Miami started to turn the corner. Nunn should be in the rotation when the playoffs begin on Saturday/Sunday, so he will be seeing playoff basketball.
Last season, this was not the case due to COVID-19, but he has proven that the Heat will need him for another NBA Finals run. Unless the Heat go another route, like starting Goran Dragic in the playoffs, he should be in the opening five.
Nunn will be a free agent this offseason and will definitely be seeing a huge pay raise. Whether that’s from the Miami Heat is unknown. But he has certainly bounced back after a disappointing end to last season.
Bam Adebayo’s shooting will only get better for the Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo has no ceiling. That’s the cold hard truth for Miami’s young star. Adebayo should be the Defensive Player of the Year and should have been an All-Star. But that just adds more gasoline to the 23-year-old’s fire.
Adebayo averaged an outstanding 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists while playing more than 33 minutes per game in 64 outings. The points and assists numbers are career-high’s and the rebounds were down by 1.2 per game.
However, those numbers may not be the most notable for Adebayo. The number of shots he attempted by a longer distance increased while the number of shots from a closer distance decreased.
Adebayo attempted 22.5% of his shots from 10-16 feet and 11.0% of his shots from 16 feet to the three-point line. Both of those numbers are up last year from 14.4% and 5.6%, respectively.
In doing so, Adebayo’s field goal from those distances also showed a major increase. Adebayo saw his 40.4% field goal percentage from 10-16 feet rise to 45.6%. He also saw his field goal percentage from 16 feet to the three-point line jump from 22.7% to 38.6%.
Those numbers are eye-opening since Adebayo has gone from not being able to stretch the floor on offense to almost being able to shoot three-pointers. There is no reason why he can’t eventually let it fly from beyond the arc, too.
Adebayo has proven that he can shoot the ball. And if he continues to develop at the rate he is right now, there is no limit to how good he can become. It won’t come this year, but Adebayo’s rise will be very noticeable next season.
The Miami Heat need to find Jimmy Butler more help
The Miami Heat have been committed to bringing another title back to the city ever since LeBron James decided to go home to Cleveland. They brought in Goran Dragic the next season to help Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
They brought Joe Johnson aboard to see if they could rekindle the magic he once possessed. Then, Pat Riley went bargain hunting for the likes of Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters — moves that resulted in an 11-30 start to the 2016-17 season.
They brought Jimmy Butler to Miami, completely revamped the roster, and are now trying to figure out how to return to the NBA Finals for a second straight year. All of this happened in the time span of six years.
Riley tried to work his magic again by trading for former All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, but he only lasted four games until he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Miami now sits with a roster with none of its 2020 free-agent pickups still in South Beach.
The Heat pursued Kyle Lowry, who might still end up with the team during this offseason. They couldn’t get it done. The common denominator of all of this is how Miami is desperately looking for ways to improve.
This regular season showed why they need help. The non-Butler minutes have not been great and Miami currently lacks a third star who would put this team over the top. Oladipo was supposed to be that guy and he looked good, which shows that it would work.
Adebayo should improve, but the Heat need to go on Butler’s timeline. They can’t waste the prime years of their star player and he surely can’t do everything by himself. Butler needs another body to relieve him when he’s on the bench.
No matter what happens in the NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat need to do this in the offseason. Even if they win the NBA Finals, they still need to do to make a move. Do they have enough to get it done this year? I think they have enough, but it’s going to be difficult while going against the three-headed scoring machine in Brooklyn.
Other teams will improve. And if there’s anything that Miami should’ve learned from last season, it’s to not become content and to push for the guys that will change your team.
We will push this aside until the buzzer sounds on the last game of the Miami Heat’s season, but it’s something to keep in mind when Butler is putting the team on his shoulders and trying his best to lead them to the promised land.