12 Nov What’s “Left” With The Miami Heat
It is estimated that 12% of the total population in the world is left-handed. So it’s kind of a surprise that for the Miami Heat, one-thirds of their roster is left handed.
The history of the lefty can be traced to between 20,000 to 100,000 years ago when, according to neuropsychologist Chris McManus of University College of London (UCL) “a second mutation entered the human gene pool that canceled out the brain’s natural bias towards right-handedness.”
The NBA has seen a list of great left-handed players. Gail Goodrich, Bob Lanier, Chris Mullin, Tiny Archibald, Billy Cunningham, Artis Gilmore, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens, David Robinson and of course Bill Russell. The likes of James Harden, Manu Ginobili, Zach Randolph, Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings, Mike Conley lead the NBA’s current crop of left handed superstars.
The Lefty Team
Happy Left Handers Day to all the lefties out there! We've got a few of our own… pic.twitter.com/IabS3OJScH
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 13, 2015
Even before the season began, the Miami Heat made it known that they were loaded with left handed players.
Leading the pack is Chris Bosh, one of the best left-handed big men to ever play the game. The 31 year old Georgia Tech Product left Toronto as the Raptors’ All-time leading scorer after averaging 20.2 points per game in his first seven NBA seasons. His scoring average has dropped since coming to Miami but in the first post-LeBron season in 2015, Bosh averaged 21.5 points per game.
The there is Slovenian Goran Dragic, the NBA’s 2014 Most Improved Player award winner after averaging 20.3 points per game with the Suns during the 2013-14 season. Dragic landed in Miami at last season’s trade deadline and although his average dropped to 16.3 points per game last season, Dragic has shown flashes of brilliance that will make this 29 year old PG the future of the Heat franchise.
The Heat were targeting bigger free agents in 2014 but ended up getting Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts. Before coming to Miami, the former Duke Blue Devil was coming into his own in Charlotte, averaging 8.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game from 2013 to 2014. He’s still adjusting to his new role with the Heat, but has shown he still has what it takes to be special.
Tyler Johnson was undrafted in 2014 and after a pair of 10 day contracts with the Heat in January 2015, he was signed for the remainder of the season. The bigger surprise however is that Johnson has become the spark off the Heat bench in their first six games of the 2015-16 NBA season. Averaging 6.5 points per game and shooting .588 from the field in just 17.3 minutes of action, Johnson’s brought a new flare to the Miami bench.
2015 first round pick Justise Winslow is the final lefty on the Heat squad. The 10th overall pick from Duke has been a bundle of energy showing a lot of potential. He’s playing 26.6 minutes per game and contributing 5.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest. For a 19 year old kid, that is impressive considering he is playing in a veteran team like the Heat.
These five lefties combine for 40.2% of the Heat’s current points total per game. Now that’s significant. But what if they played together at the same time?
“We actually have one at every position, so it works out perfectly,” once said Tyler Johnson. “I’d like to see it,” Bosh said during the offseason. “Why not? Just to do it, at least in preseason, just to say we did it.”
They didn’t just settle for the pre-season.
Confirmed: Heat having five left-handed shooters on the floor at one time is an NBA record that will never be broken.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) November 6, 2015
The vision of playing all five left handed players at the same time in an actual NBA regular season game became a reality on November 5, 2015 when the Heat played the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Heat won the game 96-84 but the bigger victory was the confirmation that it was the first time in NBA history that five lefties played together on the same team at the same time. As reported, it could be a record that will never be broken and a moment that will never be forgotten.
“I think it’s unique and it’s something we really want to leverage.” Said Coach Erik Spoelstra.
Left handers are awkward, tough to read and naturally good shooters. So more than just for nostalgia, Spoelstra wants this line-up to help the Heat compete for a playoff spot. Miami is 6-3 in the young season and with still 73 games left to play, the Heat have the right lineup or should we say the “left” one to succeed this season.
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