The Heat open their Eastern Conference title defense with a sloppy cross-state contest and a loss. Here’s the good news.
Five Stars is a series where each of the players in a given contest are graded based on a number of factors.
Mostly, I use John Hollinger’s formula for “Gamescore,” with the key addition of plus-minus. Of the 20 players involved in the Miami Heat’s opening day 113-107 loss to the Orlando Magic, these were the five who stood out.
First Star: Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
Nine-year veteran Evan Fournier, now starting his seventh season with the Orlando Magic, was a clear standout in the Magic victory. Starting at shooting guard, Fournier shot nine-for-13 from the field, including three-for-five from long-distance. He added three points on as many foul shots, totaling a game-high 24 in the process. He also added four assists and three steals for good measure, finishing the contest with a plus-1 rating.
Second Star: Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Starting Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, now in his seventh season both in the NBA and with Orlando, nailed down the second star in only 25 minutes of work. He made eight field goals in 11 attempts for a team-best 73 percent make-rate. He hurt himself a little by making just one-of-four foul shots, duplicating that success rate from three-point range. He pulled down seven boards, including three on the offensive side of the glass, collecting four steals and ending the night with 18 points.
Third Star: Goran Dragić, Miami Heat
Aside from a little sloppy play at the end of the fourth quarter, we got a good look at “vintage” Goran Dragić. Pro-tip: He looks a lot like regular Goran Dragić. Now in his 13th NBA season, and seventh with the Heat, he played 25 minutes off the bench at point guard for the good guys. He drained seven-of-12 from the field, including one-of-four from deep, and added three free throws on as many attempts. He pulled down four rebounds, dished out seven dimes, collected one steal, and finished with 18 points. He was also one of only two Miami players to finish with a positive plus-minus, at plus-6.
Fourth Star: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Five-time All Star Jimmy Butler is now starting his 10th NBA season, and his second with the Miami Heat. In the action early in the evening on December 23, the starting small forward logged a career-high seven steals in 35 minutes on the floor. He went six-for-14 from the field, and did not attempt a three-pointer. Butler made five-of-five from the stripe, adding seven assists and three rebounds in total. He finished with 17 points, and would have ranked higher if:
- the Heat won, or
- he hadn’t turned the ball over six times, all but negating his career-steal night.
Fifth Star: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo, Miami’s starter in the middle, is starting his fourth season in the NBA, all with Miami. In 34 minutes, he led the Heat with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, adding a three-for-four performance from the foul line. He was also the only Heat player to finish with double digit rebounds, totaling 11 (three offensive). He had four assists and a block, but also finished with a team-worst seven turnovers.
Honorable Mention: Precious Achiuwa, Miami Heat
On a per-minute scale, rookie Precious Achiuwa would have just missed the top five. In only 13 minutes and change, he scored eight points on three-of-four shooting, with three boards and a plus-six rating. The announcer for Fox Sports mentioned that Achiuwa had a “high motor,” which normally applies to smaller players. Achiuwa is six-foot-eight, and he was playing in his first NBA game. Ever.
Dishonorable Mention: Andre Igoudala, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala is now entering his 17th NBA season, and put up a pretty forgettable stat-line. He played nearly 17 minutes, did not score, and pulled down four rebounds. He also stole one and blocked another, but turned the ball over three times, matching it with three personal fouls.