Ever since LeBron James & Chris Bosh migrated down to Miami, it was assumed that it was only a matter of time before Erik Spoelstra was pushed to the side for Pat Riley’s return to the bench. Especially when the Heat started slow out the gate. How was Spoelstra going to get everyone on the same page? He went to the stats to devise a game plan:
As a Heat assistant in years’ past, Spoelstra did a lot of data grunt work (for instance charting every single Heat defensive possession with a 54-category system developed under Pat Riley). He is not afraid of data, so he dug into the numbers.
The coach found was that both Wade and James could score all kinds of ways, but leaned heavily on one type of play: The high screen and roll.
Once he had everything figured out, it was time to present his results to his star players and the method he chose was pie charts. Yep, pie charts, the go-to presentation of third grade science fairs the world over.
I used a pie chart at the beginning of December to show how each one of them were scoring. For both of them, their comfort level was at the top of the floor, high pick-and-roll with the ball in their hands. The problem with that is we can’t have both of them running a high pick-and-roll with the ball in their hands at the same time.
I had to find a way to explain that we need more balance and we need to find other ways to score. Each guy needs to get two or three layups or dunks or free throws in the open court, get two or three on cuts, get maybe one on an offensive rebound, get a couple on post-ups, get a couple of catch-and-shoots.
All of their pie charts have changed. Dwyane’s has probably changed the most, where now he gets a potpourri of different ways of scoring. He does it in all the ways I mentioned. Finally, at the end of games, we’ll get him in high pick-and-rolls, but he’s doing a lot of other things to be engaged and involved when it’s not a high pick-and-roll with the ball in his hands.
Sound’s pretty simple right? All of the hours breaking down film may have been tedious, but I don’t see handing players a spreadsheet having the same effect. If I remember correctly, they had a pretty good December too.