In the days leading up to the biggest news this NBA offseason, Miami Heat president Pat Riley announced that terms had been reached with a slick passing forward.
Let’s take a look at his career up to this point; he’s entering his eighth year in the NBA and will be playing for his sixth team. His previous spots include Portland (where he was drafted 37th overall in 2007), Indiana, Los Angeles (Lakers), Orlando and Charlotte.
Before he joined the Bobcats, his numbers were pretty pedestrian. He best year was in the 2010-11 season, when he played in 72 games for the Pacers and averaged 7.6 points per game. It didn’t help matters to play in L.A. and Orlando before being traded to Charlotte in a salary clearing move for Hakim Warrick.
And then new Bobcats coach Steve Clifford saw something in McRoberts and started him in 72 games last season. He gave Charlotte an added dimension to their offense that was missing with the man McRoberts supplanted, oft-injured forward Byron Mullens.
He connected on his 3-point shot attempt at an above-average clip, hitting on 36 percent of 291 attempts, almost double the total of his previous six seasons. That allowed the ‘Cats to space the floor reasonably well, despite an obvious lack of outside shooting.
But McRoberts was also able to help initiate the offense from the high post with some timely passes. Either feeding low-post machine Al Jefferson of finding cutting teammates along the baseline, McRoberts gave a team that relied on steady defense to win games a little showmanship on offense.
Given that McRoberts has basically been the same player throughout his career, expanding a reasonably versatile skill set in Miami seems unlikely. The challenge, therefore, is for Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to find a way to maximize what skills McRoberts has the same way Clifford did in Charlotte.
First up, recognizing what he doesn’t do well. For his size, McRoberts isn’t a terribly great rebounder, although that might be due to how his role on the offense keeps him away from the basket and missed shots.
He’s gritty enough to try and grab a board and he can swing his elbows around to clear space well but his numbers won’t blow your mind. Still, Miami has been a poor rebounding team for years now and have four straight trips to the Finals and two championships to help comfort them on those long nights when they don’t lose sleep thinking about this.
McRoberts passing can also be a little erratic. The Heat will have to live with the occasional turnover so long as he keeps finding the open teammate.
Also, while Bosh isn’t a low-post presence in the same mold as Jefferson (and who is, really?), the James/Bosh combo was extremely effective over the last few years, particularly as Bosh’s shooting range expanded more and more. This could be a serious weapon for Miami this season.
Overall, McRoberts is a solid complementary player that has a good understanding of the game and is just as capable of making a highlight pass or finishing one off at the rim for a dunk. Playing off more versatile and skilled teammates than those he left in Charlotte should emphasize what he brings to the table.
Expect McRoberts to be fan favorite in Miami by mid-season and for years to come.