The Miami Heat seem to be one of the teams with a more polarizing outcome than most headed into the 2021-22 NBA season. Their acquisition of Kyle Lowry for Goran Dragic is the headline, and one of the more significant moves of the recent offseason.
The defense will lead to offense each night, but the lack of traditional point guards behind Lowry will require some creativity from head coach Eric Spoelstra in the halfcourt. We've often seen plays run through Butler, Adebayo, or Tyler Herro - Victor Oladpio may fill this role as well.
Here are three sets the Miami Heat can run in the 2021-22 NBA season
#3 - Stack
The Miami Heat ran a handful of stack variations last season and throughout the playoffs. It initially functions similarly to a pick-and-roll, but then adds an extension after the ball handler drives to either free a shooter or allow a big to gain momentum by cutting to the basket.
To lay it out in a basic manner, one ball handler (Butler, Lowry) is at the top of the three-point line and waits for a stacked screen of two teammates. The two screeners typically include one elite shooter (Robinson, Lowry, or Herro) and a big man (Bam, Dedmon) in that order. Meanwhile, the other two on the floor are posted in opposite corners.
Let's say Butler is the initator, while Robinson and Adebayo function as screeners. Butler would attack downhill to his right off vertical screens, causing the opposing big man to stop his drive. That leaves a two-on-one involving Bam and Robinson.
Bam would then set up a flare screen for Robinson, who shoots well off movement and often leads to a catch-and-shoot three opportunity. If the defense keys in on Robinson, Bam then rolls hard to the basket as an option.
If either corner defender helps off at any time, both Bam and Jimmy can hit them on a dime from almost anywhere on the court.
#2 - Empty Side DHO
Dribble hand-offs (DHOs) are a staple for the Miami Heat, because they have found a near perfect pairing to execute this action. The most optimal version of a DHO includes a screener, most commonly a big, who can both dribble and pass at a high level.
Bam Adebayo is one of the best centers in the league at putting the ball on the floor and making reads from there or out of a standstill.
Meanwhile, his most common partner is Duncan Robinson. Robinson is a high-level movement three-point shooter on ridiculous volume. He has also become exceptional at passing after leaving the ground to shoot, particularly when dropping it back off to Bam to re-screen.
The "empty side" portion of this simply means that Bam and Duncan are the only two on that side of the floor supplying the maximum amount of space possible. Hammer action, a downscreen for the corner man, is often simultaneously run on the weakside to keep defenders engaged.
#1 - Spain Pick and Roll
Jimmy Butler seems like a guy who loves to vacation in Spain. We've seen his colorful t-shirt, fun hats, and loafers on occasions throughout the years. The closest thing available to him midseason would be a common set, the Spain pick-and-roll.
In similar aspects of the previously mentioned stack, a Spain pick-and-roll begins with a big man screening for the ball handler atop the three-point line. This time, the big man would roll hard to the basket right after the screen is used.
While that is taking place, a shooter comes behind the defending big and sets a pick with his back towards the basket.
Big men have a harder time navigating screens, and can often fail to see it being set in the first place. Kyle Lowry in particular should strive in that role with his outlier strength and physicality for a 6'1" guard.
If neither the screener nor ball handler are able to finish the play, Lowry could find himself with space on the perimeter while three defenders are focused on containing the penetration.
Running a Spain pick-and-roll with Bam as the roll man, Herro and Robinson in the corners, with Lowry and Butler interchangeable between the two remaining roles, could be notably successful for the Miami Heat in the 2021-22 NBA season.