The Miami Heat are expected to pursue Atlanta Hawks’ forward, John Collins, in free agency this offseason. Shams Charania of The Athletic ($$$) stated, on July 13th, that Miami, along with Dallas and Minnesota, are expected to show interest in the services of Collins once free agency opens on August 1st.
But does it make sense for the Heat to pursue John Collins? Yes, and no. Head Coach, Erik Spoelstra, uses forwards as floor spacers in his offense as they primarily feature dribble handoffs and pick and rolls.
Let’s take a look at whether restricted free agent John Collins has the skill set to excel in the Miami Heat offensive system.
Miami averaged 8.3 dribble handoffs per game during the regular season: 2nd in the NBA. 42.2 percent of the team’s dribble handoffs went to Duncan Robinson and Jimmy Butler as they combined to average 3.5 per game.
If the Heat weren’t running dribble handoffs, they would go to pick and rolls as they averaged 17.9 per game: 22nd in the NBA. Jimmy Butler led the team in pick and rolls as he accounted for 36.9 percent of the possessions, averaging 6.6 per game.
The structure of the Miami Heat offense led forwards to spend a significant amount of time as floor spacers. For instance, Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza took more than 59 percent of their shots from behind the arc last season, averaging 2.9 and 4.8 per game, respectively.
More than 83 percent of their attempts were catch and shoots as they averaged 2.4 and 4 per game, respectively. Some of those catch and shoots came from above the break as Iguodala and Ariza averaged 1.3 and 2.6 attempts, respectively.
Collins has the tools to succeed in this role as he has made 39.6 percent of his catch and shoot threes throughout his career on 2.4 attempts. Collins has also succeeded at shooting threes from above the break as he has converted 38.4 percent of his field goals on 1.8 shots per game.
Potential pitfalls with signing John Collins for the Miami Heat
Although Collins is an ideal fit for the team on the court, the problem with signing John Collins is how much the team would have to pay him. Collins declined a $90 million extension from the Atlanta Hawks last December as he wanted a more significant contract.
Collins is reportedly looking for a near-max extension. Collins’ asking price is too high for him to be a floor spacer. Therefore, the Miami Heat would have to give him a more prominent role in the offense.
For instance, Collins excels as a roll man, shooting 57.6 percent from the field on 2.8 shots per game since 2017. The shooting percentage allowed him to average 4.1 points per game as a roll man: 24.7 percent of his scoring output.
Unfortunately, if the Heat were to utilize Collins as a roll man, it would put the primary big man, Bam Adebayo, in unfamiliar territory. Adebayo spends a significant amount of time as a roll man.
The roll man position accounts for 19.2 percent of his possessions as he has averaged 2.3 per game since 2017. He has shot 62 percent from the field as a roll man on 1.8 shots per game, creating 2.7 points: 21.8 percent of his scoring output.
Bam Adebayo would have to become a floor spacer for the Miami Heat to feature John Collins. Adebayo has had success in practice being a floor spacer, as he made 52 percent of his threes during a draft workout with the Charlotte Hornets on 25 attempts.
Furthermore, the team has confidence that Bam Adebayo will be able to hit threes as Adebayo had a $500 bet with his teammate, Butler, last season, contingent upon him shooting a three in a game versus Washington.
Unfortunately, Adebayo hasn’t transferred his shooting skills onto the court as he refused to shoot a three in that game against Washington, losing the $500 bet. More importantly, he has only attempted 44 threes in his four-year career, only converting 7 attempts.
Therefore, opposing defenders will leave Adebayo open until he can show that he is willing to shoot the three in games. Consequently, it increases the likelihood that Collins will take a contested shot.
As a result, the team would be better off looking at cheaper options, which they don’t have to feature in the offense. For instance, Otto Porter Jr. has made 41.8 percent of his catch and shoots on three attempts per game since 2013.
He has also thrived from above the break, converting 39.8 percent of his field goals on 2.3 attempts per game. More importantly, Porter Jr. is expected to make less than $15 million on his next contract.
In conclusion, Collins would be an excellent fit for the Heat on the court, but his asking price suggests that the team should look at other options.