The Miami Heat are clearly representing in this year’s Olympics, and it isn’t headlined on a Team USA roster. It’s actually with Team Nigeria, as three of the Heat’s young projects, Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, and Gabe Vincent, are getting some extra reps.
The main focus seems to be on both of Miami’s recent draft picks, in Achiuwa and Okpala, since experience and playing time is all they really need to make some small leaps in their game. The issue is that there’s some question marks next to their future with the team.
On a team that is going to be fully invested in the trade market, with things such as sign-and-trades, two young and promising assets will come up frequently. As Miami has their eyes on Kyle Lowry, would they have to part ways with somebody like Achiuwa, who they have strong interest in?
It’s definitely a possibility, which leaves us shifting some attention that may continue to go under the radar: Gabe Vincent. He’s had a strong start to these Olympic games in some of the exhibitions in Las Vegas, and that isn’t temporary.
He was placed into an unfamiliar role this past season with the Heat, after playing much more of an off-ball, spot-up type of role in the past. They basically inserted him into starting point guard when some of the unfortunate Covid stuff occurred, which left him adjusting on the fly.
While the on-ball duties were new for him a bit, he ran the offense pretty effectively, and that will look to improve in this Olympic setting. Some extra facilitating and play-making spots in the offense will make him much more prepared for a possible Miami Heat insertion in the future, but when might that occur?
Many have harped on the need of a point guard on this team with Kendrick Nunn most likely taking the best deal this off-season and Goran Dragic possibly being used as a salary filler if a trade deal is going to be made. So yes, a starting point guard is needed with some decent veteran options available, but who will be the back-up point guard?
There are plenty of holes that will need to be filled this off-season, such as a front-court pairing, extra depth, a point guard, and of course the continued search of a consistent three-level scorer. But as time passes, it would not surprise me if Vincent was given a much bigger role to begin the season.
A bench spark who also brings a good amount of defensive physicality is the type of guy they’ve always liked in that role, and it’s obviously a guy that they trust. His development is far from over as well, since he has a full off-season ahead of him, including the Olympics and summer training, to improve some of the things that can get him to that point.
In my opinion, I think a major focus for the Heat will be getting back to the basics, and placing him into his area of strength. If shooting consistency from deep comes back the way I expect it to, he could definitely be utilized regularly as a Miami Heat reserve.
This is a time for all of their young guys to grow as basketball players so they can find their way into the rotation, but the guy that hasn’t been the center of attention for some time, may be the one to come out the true winner of the off-season among that grouping.
And there’s just something about those gritty undrafted guys that the Heat find a major liking for, and Vincent falls right under that category. They have loved his work ethic behind the scenes, and combining some more development with a Heat possible position of need could result in a solution that is right in front of their eyes.
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