After 53 games, the Miami Heat is still consistently inconsistent. There are times that the Heat looks like they could beat any team in the NBA, and there are times that Miami looks like a lottery team. While they are still involved in a tightly contested playoff race in the Eastern Conference, it is clear that they could use reinforcements, especially in their offense. That said, here are two players that could help the Heat in their hunt for a playoff berth: CJ McCollum of the Portland Trailblazers and Rodney Hood of the Utah Jazz.
After three straight losses, and with the trade deadline fast approaching, a decision from the Miami Heat front office must soon be made. They could either stay put and risk not making the playoffs, or they could re-tool while shedding their bad contracts. The Heat top brass has maintained that Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside will not be moved this season but the way things are going at the moment, the Heat would likely reconsider their stand.
Just over a week ago, the Miami Heat was clinging to the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Heat are currently on a losing streak that dropped them to seventh place and in danger of missing the top eight entirely. In those losses, one thing has become apparent: the Miami Heat needs more offensive options, specifically a go-to-guy in clutch situations. This is where someone like McCollum and Hood would come in handy.
McCollum is probably the better fit for the Heat. McCollum is averaging 21.9 points, four rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while playing alongside Damian Lillard. McCollum is shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 42.5 percent from the deep, and 86.9 percent from the free throw line. McCollum has developed into one of the most potent scorers in the league and if the Heat can acquire this 6’3 combo-guard, he will probably be the team’s number one option in the Heat offense. Despite his size, McCollum is also an underrated defender and can hold his own against taller and more athletic guards. However, according to a proposed trade scenario reported by Sportsrageous, the Heat must be willing to let Whiteside go for them to acquire McCollum and a number of other assets.
Meanwhile, Rodney Hood continues to impress a lot of NBA fans. The 6’8 guard is averaging 16.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per contest. The 25-year-old Hood is shooting 41.3 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from behind the arc, and 86.2 percent from the foul line. The former Duke standout is also a solid defensive player, a trait that would endear him to the Miami Heat coaching staff and the fanbase itself.
The Miami Heat is a team full of contradictions. The Heat has seven players who are averaging in double figures. But as a team, Miami is ranked 28th in scoring. Perhaps a testament to the system run by head coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat has a number of players who are capable of carrying the scoring load on any given night. And perhaps because of this same system, no Heat player is averaging more than 15 points, with the exception of All-Star guard Goran Dragic (17 ppg). And while they are ranked near the bottom in scoring, the Heat still owns the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference and has the 13th best winning percentage in the NBA.
And this is the conundrum that Miami is facing. They are winning games even without Dion Waiters, their number two leading scorer. The Miami Heat are winning games even with inconsistent production from both their starters and their bench. Now, most of these wins can be attributed to their defense – after all, Miami is known as a defense-first team. But basketball is played on both sides of the floor and to win consistently, it is not enough to just stop the opposing team from scoring. They need to be able to out-score them too. And in their most recent loses, it is clear that Miami is at a loss during clutch situations.
Just being in playoff contention is already an achievement especially since Miami hasn’t been healthy all season. But for the long-time Miami Heat fans so accustomed to winning, just making the playoffs isn’t good enough. The team needs to make a splash in the post-season if they want to be relevant again. But in order to make a splash in the post-season, they have to make it there first. Adding CJ McCollum or Rodney Hood would be a step in the right direction.
The Miami Heat remains an outstanding defensive squad but the team has to be able to score come playoff time. And it is plain that they just don’t have that consistent second and third options. It is unclear if the Heat wants to wait or can afford for their young guns to mature, or they want to acquire a star and go into win-now mode. And landing Hood or McCollum via a trade would tremendously help this Heat team in the playoffs. And if they could snag one of these stars, maybe, just maybe, other stars would follow next season.