It is not a coincidence that there’s a similar process that the Miami Heat put certain players through to make sure they’re ready.
Playing in the G-League throughout their rookie year, going back and forth from the Heat roster to G-League, uncertainty if they will crack the rotation, and then as Duncan Robinson did it, starting by opening night.
If we just saw this play out last season, what makes you think the same thing won’t happen again?
For starters, there is clearly not a lock at that power forward position, especially with the questions regarding Moe Harkless.
As of right now, Moe is interchangeable, and as some have mentioned, he’s a place holder. And even if Moe does get the starting spot, he probably won’t be on the floor for long after a few reach in fouls.
But even forgetting the role of Harkless, KZ looked to prove himself and more in last night’s preseason performance against the Raptors.
One thing I mentioned all week regarding KZ is that he just needed confidence. He seemed a bit scared on Monday and passed up a ton of good looks, which is why I said he’d come out with a purpose last night after watching film.
Scoring 24 points and knocking down 6 threes on 60% shooting from beyond the arc should not be taken lightly. That is an incredible stat line, especially for someone who hasn’t seen much floor time at the NBA level.
And as much as everybody will continue to harp on his offensive play, his defensive presence should not be overlooked.
He clearly doesn’t back down from a challenge, as Erik Spoelstra said, since he started the game guarding Paschal Siakam, and even switched over to Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet at times.
There were nonstop discussions last season about finding that perimeter defender to plug some holes, and he was at the end of their bench the whole time. The scouting department knew he had it in him for quite some time, which is why they should get a ton of credit once again following that performance.
But was that performance good enough to propel him to the starting power forward position?
Well, just remember, Moe Harkless was completely healthy last night. I know it is preseason but there’s a reason he got plugged in there yesterday.
Duncan Robinson jumped into the starting lineup when there wasn’t even a clear opening.
And it seems as if things are opening perfectly for KZ Okpala right now.
The starting position is up in the air, so don’t be surprised if he’s starting in the season opener on Wednesday.