Meyers Leonard accepted his role as soon as he arrived in Miami.
A winning role.
He’s a player that compliments his fellow big, Bam Adebayo, perfectly. He spaces the floor due to his respected three point shooting, which leads to drawing the big man out of the paint for Bam and others. He also can take the defensive assignment of a true big, since Bam seems to thrive when playing perimeter defense due to his quickness.
Meyers played the first 49 games of the season with the Heat, but missed the next 16 due to an ankle injury. After Meyers went out with this injury, the Heat lost 7 of there next 9 games without him. Miami started the season 34-15 with Meyers, but went 7-9 in their last 16.
This is because Meyers is much more than a role player. When people talk about the reasons the Heat were so good this year, his name usually doesn’t come up.
But it should, especially after the Heat struggled to find consistency without him. They rotated several players next to Adebayo, from Derrick Jones Jr. to Jae Crowder to Kelly Olynyk, but none had the physical presence that allowed Adebayo to be his roaming, disruptive best. The difference was also seen during the season series against the rival Philadelphia 76ers — Miami turned that around when Erik Spoelstra chose to give him a second stint in each half, rather than shelving him after one.
He’s also a guy that makes teammates more comfortable on the floor with his willingness to communicate and direct, which is especially important in the postseason.
This is not only because the game slows down in the playoffs, but also with the many young guys in Miami’s rotation. Inexperienced performers such as Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro need their vocal leaders that they can look to in a tough playoff game.
And speaking of the postseason, Meyers definitely doesn’t shy away from big moments himself…
There are definitely many important pieces on this Heat team. But it seems as if one of those irreplaceable pieces — which is least spoke of — is indeed, The Hammer.
And now, after the extended break, he’s healthy. And in a contract year.
So it should be a solid finish.