From the Miami Heat’s list of offseason requirements, shooting was a no-go for a team that finished the regular season with a league-best .379 3-point percentage.
Then came the season after, when only three of the 16 playoff teams did worse than the heat’s arc beyond .313.
Now, with the prospect of an off-season trade involving Duncan Robinson’s contract, this one aspect is front and center as the Heat prepare for the NBA draft at Barclays Center on Thursday.
What makes it all the more challenging is that several options in the range of Heat’s No. 27 slot in the first round are listed as solid prospects with the exception of his shooting.
And for every Kavi Leonard who went from a 25% 3-point shooter at San Diego State to his 38.4% NBA career accuracy, those who couldn’t shoot in college rarely make it to the NBA.
In it Adam Simon, the Heat’s vice president of basketball operations, and his scouting staff study the strokes of potential draft additions as much as their college statistics.
“It’s not always the case,” Simon said of players like Leonard, who shot .443 at 3-pointers after a season at San Diego State shooting .205 during a season with the Spurs. “So that’s a lot. It’s just the challenging thing, even among us, in our own rooms, to say, ‘Okay, we think he might be a better shooter.’
“It’s very hard for people to go from below average shooters to very good shooters.”
While Robinson and Max Strauss have carried that element to the Heat in recent seasons, it has come while weighing such contributions against some of their game’s flaws.
In this year’s draft, the Heat may have to weigh in on the opposite, all-round games, lacking in quality shooting percentages, from prospects in the No. 27 range like Jaden Hardy, Marjon Beauchamp, Trevor Kielce and Blake Wesley.
“Anyone can improve by developing their technique and reps,” Simon said. “But I think there are people who are born to shoot, that defines those people. The guy who can’t shoot, I think it’s not that easy.
“But I think that’s why you go to these workouts and you go to these pro days to see what his stroke looks like and if he can work on it.”
So the video continues to be evaluated whenever the workout stops and as the judgment time approaches. No matter what the statistics say, does the technique give indications of shooting success?
“Over the years,” Simon said, “we’ve sent him to our shooting coach to see what he thought about the shot. And that’s a big part of the evaluation process.”
For all of the Heat’s 3-point successes during the regular season, 57 NBA players scored a higher percentage than Strauss, 76 percent more than Tyler Harrow, 128 percent more than Kyle Lowry, 146 more than Robinson. percent and got 152 more percentiles. Compared to Gabe Vincent.
But waiting in the wings are two-way prospects Mychal Mulder and Javonte Smart, as well as development prospect Heywood Highsmith, all of which could mute the draft’s need for a shooter.
The Heat closed out the season and made the playoffs 3-2-34 when shooting a combined 32-2, and worse, shooting 40 percent or better at 3-pointers.
So when it comes to the draft, if the Heat look in the direction of a long-range contribution, it may not be so much who has the shot, who can give the Heat the best shot.
“I just look at it to see who can help the summer,” Simon said, “whether it’s in the near future or down the road.”