Can Dedmon Shore Up South Beach’s Big-Man Woes?


A new era of Miami Heat basketball is dawning with the addition of Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo seems to fill many of Miami’s holes so far this season. A versatile shot creator, lockdown perimeter defender, ball-dominant distributor and efficient scorer, there isn’t much Dipo can’t do. Pair that with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and maybe the deepest rotation in the NBA, and the potential is through the ceiling.

However, one glaring issue has remained– an extreme lack of big-man depth.

It isn’t like Miami is unaware of this issue. The Heat acquired Nemanja Bjelica at the deadline to upgrade from Kelly Olynyk. A week prior, they acquired their Moe Harkless replacement in 3-and-D stretch-four Trevor Ariza. Miami even drafted Precious Achiuwa over top guard prospects to get bigger and better on the boards back in November.

But with what we’ve seen so far this season, it simply hasn’t been enough.

Rebounding Woes

Miami sits 26th in rebounds at 42.5 per game. They hardly get any second-chance opportunities, as their 7.9 offensive rebounds per game places them dead last.

Games are proving to be too difficult to win with just one shot per possession, coupled with surrendering multiple attempts on the other side of the floor. The Heat have no individual rebounder averaging in double digits, with Bam leading the team at 9.6 per game. Tyler Herro, a reserve shooting guard, is third on the team after Olynyk’s departure.

Following the deadline, Miami improved in many facets of the game, but rebounding was not one of them. Oladipo brings above-average rebounding numbers for a guard and Bjelica will rebound about as well as Olynyk, but that isn’t enough to turn the tide.

Miami’s most natural rebounder might be Achiuwa (3.5 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game), but his lack of an offensive game makes him a liability on that end. While the Heat have certainly made it work in the past without strong rebounding, 26th in the league is a cause for concern particularly down the line against top rebounding teams in Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

Bam Can Only Do So Much

Miami’s bigs struggle more than nearly any other team on the defensive end aside from Adebayo, as the Heat sit 29th in blocks right now (Bam is the only player on the roster averaging more than one block per game). Bam is an elite-rim protector and switch defender, but he has no one next to him to carry that same defensive intensity. When Bam rests, Achiuwa is being asked to carry that same load, a tall task for a first-year player still finding his role on this team.

Miami has needed to find someone who can defend seven-foot bigs and secure rebounds to avoid opposing second-chance opportunities. While Erik Spoelstra’s position-less basketball certainly fits the modern NBA, the lack of a secondary big has been too much to ignore this far into the season.

A New Dewayne In South Beach

The solution: Dewayne Dedmon. The 31-year-old even has some experience in Miami as a member of the 2013 Heat Summer League squad. Dedmon last averaged 8.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in his 10-game stint for the Kings last year. In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons with Atlanta, Dedmon scored in double figures and averaged 7.5+ rebounds/game across 122 contests.

Dedmon fits everything Miami is missing. He can provide fantastic reserve minutes behind Bam — and maybe play alongside him! — and rebound the ball at a high rate. Most importantly, he can defend the paint and block shots at a high clip. Dewayne is a unique breed of a 3-and-D big man, connecting on 33% of his shots from beyond the arc.

Look for Dewayne to find a home in Miami’s rotation very quickly, most likely taking some minutes away from Achiuwa and Bjelica. Dedmon has been rehabbing an injury, but seems to be in great shape and ready to compete with a contender in South Beach.

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About Conor Fagan

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