Whilst Richardson’s absence probably hasn’t been a major factor in the Heat’s winning run, it is clear that upon his return, he will have to fight for a spot in the Heat rotation, and this could create a problem for Erik Spoelstra.
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Over the course of the winning run, Miami have evolved from a team using a nine-man rotation into a team using a 10-man rotation.
His role was largely increased after the injury to Dion Waiters in late November, but his production wasn’t as impressive as it probably should have been as he shot 39 percent from the field and 31 percent from three overall.
Spoelstra is now presented with a dilemma, because the Heat have shot better than 40 percent from three during their incredible spell and the players in the wing positions have all shot incredibly well.
McGruder appears to be the weakest link of these four on the surface, but he has performed admirably since he was made a starter and he has shot 39 percent from downtown during the Heat’s last 15 games.
While McGruder isn’t a terrific defender, his offensive value is higher than Josh Richardson’s because of his versatility. He was described as a “scavenger” by Goran Dragic and this style of play is a huge reason why he needs to remain a big part of the rotation.
Richardson, on the whole, is a poor shooter who has very little driving ability and this is why the Heat are six points better off per 100 possessions when he is on the bench.
He is a terrific defender as shown by the fact he only allows his opponent to shoot 39 percent from the field, but the Heat are a good defensive team whether he is on the floor or on the bench.
While I expect Spoelstra to try and get Richardson back into the rotation, the consequences of him doing this could be disastrous. The Heat have played good defense all year and it is the offense that has drastically improved in their winning run.
Spoelstra is a loyal coach who has consistently spoken highly of Richardson, but this is an issue he will have to tackle carefully. Regardless, this is a nice dilemma for Spoelstra, as his team was 11-30 just a month ago and was in the running to win the draft lottery.