The Miami Heat wrapped up a week’s worth of training camp practices at FAU on Saturday morning with its annual Red, White and Pink scrimmage to raise money for the Miami Cancer Institute.
With 11 players back from last year’s team, coach Erik Spoelstra was able to fast-track a lot of his practices this week while getting a few new pieces acclimated to the Heat’s culture.
Saturday, two of those new additions — Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo — impressed on both ends of the court. Dion Waiters (ankle) and Justise Winslow (shoulder) also looked good in coming back from injury.
Here are some notes and observations on the Heat’s 19 players as the team heads into Sunday’s preseason opener at home against the Atlanta Hawks:
▪ For all the questions about his left ankle coming into the season, Waiters didn’t show any signs of pain or discomfort on Saturday. He actually took over the game in the third quarter, leading the White Squad to an impressive 27-5 victory in the quarter with 12 points. Waiters, who finished with 16 points (6-11 FG, 2-3 3FG, 2-3 FT) in the game, displayed his range hitting a pair of threes and a couple of pull-up jumpers.
Waiters, 25, also showed off his ability to get to the basket with a few nasty crossover moves. Late in the third quarter he actually blew past the Heat’s defense in transition and hung on the rim after a dunk. He finished with a team-high five assists and added two rebounds.
“That’s what we’ve seen [in practice],” Spoelstra said. “He’s been moving well. He’s in good condition and he’s been showing that burst of speed. I mentioned it the other day, it’s equal to what he had last year if not better because of the shape that he’s in.”
Waiters said earlier this week he came into camp weighing 219 pounds — more than 15 pounds lighter than he came into training camp last year.
“I told you I’ve been working,” Waiters said. “Even though I was limited to what I normally would do during the summer [because of the badly sprained ankle] I made sure I ate right and I made sure I ran. Once it started feeling better that’s when I started easing myself into doing a lot of things I normally would do.”
That process, Waiters said, began about six weeks before the start of camp. Now that he’s with the team, Waiters said, he’s getting a lot of treatment before and after practices to make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks with the ankle.
“I got the coaches, I got everyone who believes in me, who trusts me, who knows what I can do,” Waiters said. “It’s strictly just about staying focused and having that mindset night in and night out. Like I said, it comes easier once you know where you’re going to be. You know the system, you know the players, you’re just comfortable. Basketball is the easy part.”
▪ Like Waiters, Winslow, 21, focused on losing weight this summer as he recovered from shoulder surgery. He said his goal this season is to play between 215-220 pounds.
He’s already lost between 10 to 15 pounds and it showed in Saturday’s scrimmage with his ability to get up and down the court faster. Although he airballed the only three-point shot he took, Winslow finished with 13 points (6-10 FGs, 1-1 FT), nine rebounds, an assist and two steals.
“I was telling the coaches on the bench I feel great,” said Winslow, who spent the majority of his time Saturday at power forward. “You have those points where you jump and you’re knee hurts a little bit that sort of thing throughout the year but at this point I feel great. I’m not sure if I jumped that high on a dunk in a while. It just felt good to be out there with the guys, that was a big step for me just being out there more of a competition and tomorrow will be a bigger step. It just was great for me and my journey over this past year.”
▪ Olynyk, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Heat this summer and who one Heat staffer said this week at camp is a 7-foot shooting guard, finished with 13 points (6-11 FG, 1-5 3FG), nine rebounds, three assists and a steal in Saturday’s scrimmage.
He played mostly at center opposite Hassan Whiteside and held his own defensively for the most part. That’s the part of his game most were worried about upon signing with the Heat.
“He’s big. He’s 7-feet. He’s a smart, intelligent player,” Spoelstra said. “So I think he’s going to fast-track in our defensive system. I think he’ll find ways to factor. We’ll have to get him comfortable at both, playing fours and fives, which is nothing new to him. He’s done that so far in his career.”
▪ Adebayo came off the bench in Saturday’s scrimmage and made an immediate impact with a tip-in basket.
He also had a series of vicious dunks in the second half including one in which he blew by power forward Jordan Mickey on a spin move. He ended the game with a windmill dunk.
“Bam had his ‘mini breakthrough day’ [Friday] where he was really effective, impacting the game with his physicality,” Spoelstra said. “It just seems every time a shot goes up he’s around the ball. And has a great knack for offensive rebounding as well. So if you’re not hitting him early and maintaining that block out he’s putting a lot of pressure on you to keep you from coming out with that ball. He had a couple tip outs today in the possession. But you saw that relentlessness.”
At one point in the fourth Adebayo tried to dunk on Whiteside. He was challenged and just missed the dunk.
“Why not?,” Adebayo answered when asked if he knew he was attempting to dunk on one of the league’s leading shotblockers. “I’m athletic enough to try.”
Adebayo finished with 10 points (5-9 FG, 0-1 3FG), six rebounds and a turnover.
▪ Josh Richardson, who is competing to be a starter at small forward, left Saturday’s scrimmage early in the third quarter with a bloody nose after Olynyk hit him with the palm of his hand as Richardson was driving to the basket.
“It was bleeding a lot actually,” Richardson said. “But after that, I got it under control.”
Before he left the game, though, Richardson was impressive in the first half despite going 0-for-3 from three-point range.
He handled the ball well, created for others and defended, finishing with eight points (3-6 FG) three rebounds, a steal and a turnover.
“I feel great,” Richardson said. “Going from last year not being able to do anything in training camp, just watching these guys and not having a preseason and just trying to get myself into the rotation and into the flow of things in the middle of the year, it was tough. Just having a couple more practices under my belt and being able to bring myself along at my pace is helpful.”
▪ Whiteside wasn’t a central focus of the offense, but did score 15 points (7-9 FG, 1-1 FT). He hit a pair of long jumpers to show off some range. He also grabbed two rebound and two steals.
▪ With the Heat looking to get him rest after leading Slovenia to the gold medal in this summer’s EuroBasket tournament, point guard Goran Dragic didn’t play a lot. He scored just two points (1-6 FG) and had two rebounds, three assists, a steal and two turnovers.
▪ Wayne Ellington didn’t play a lot either. He finished with three points (1-4 FG, 1-3 3FG) and a turnover.
▪ Tyler Johnson hit a pair of early three-pointers and had 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field. He added five rebounds, three assists, a steal and seems content in his sixth-man type role.
▪ James Johnson, expected to be the starting power forward after signing a four-year, $60 million deal, did most of his work in the first half Saturday and was effective in getting the basket for easy buckets. He finished with eight points (4-of-5 field goals), two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
▪ Rodney McGruder, who started 65 games last season as an undrafted rookie for an injury-ravaged Heat team, led the team in scoring with 17 points (7-10 FG, 3-5 3FG) on Saturday. He added two rebounds and an assist.
▪ Okaro White, who helped the Heat by providing a lift on the bench during its 30-11 run in the second half of last season, had seven points (1-4 FG, 0-1 3FG, 5-6 FT), three rebounds and an assist Saturday. White said earlier this week he came in second place to McGruder in the Heat’s conditioning test.
▪ Captain Udonis Haslem received the loudest ovations from the sell-out crowd at FAU on Saturday. He drilled a three-pointer, too, finishing with five points (2-6 FG, 1-2 3FG), a rebound and a steal.
▪ Other stats from Saturday: A.J. Hammons six points (2-3 FG, 2-2 FT), rebounds rebounds; Matt Williams Jr. 5 points (2-7 FG, 1-5 3FG), rebound, two assists, two steals; Derrick Walton Jr. 5 points (2-5 FG, 1-3 3FG), two rebounds, five assists, two steals; Larry Drew II 5 points (2-2 FG, 1-1 3FG), three rebounds, two assists, three turnovers; Jordan Mickey 4 points (2-4 FG, 0-1 3 FG) two rebounds, one turnover; Erik McCree 2 points (1-5 FG, 0-3 3FG, 0-1 FT), two assists, one steal.