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Gabe Vincent is the True Heat-Olympian to Keep an Eye On

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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The Season Evaluation of Miami’s Two-Way Guys

If there was ever a year to have a two-way contract in the NBA, the 2020-2021 season was the one. It was clearly unlike any other, meaning the unknown factor of Covid implications meant you didn’t know who you would have out there on any given night.

Due to that point, the league expanded rosters to allow two-way guys to be a part of the team for all 72 games and playoffs, which is quite the experience. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus took advantage of that opportunity, since Miami dealt with those implications all year.

Not only did that mean they got to see the floor a lot of the time, but even got some starting opportunities.

We had a good idea of who Vincent was as a player, which ended up being completely wrong, while there was not a true definition of who Strus was. But well, we got to see exactly what they were made of, so let’s dive right into their play this season.

Shooting:

Instead of highlighting strengths and weaknesses with these two guys, it feels necessary to group them together into the main categories, while shooting is the most interesting, in my opinion, for a couple reasons.

Before comparing them, the job that Strus did as a movement shooter was truly unexpected. Having to fill the shoes of one of the best movement shooters in the league, in Duncan Robinson, is quite the task, but he seemed to do so after a rough start.

To be honest, the shooting did not look like a strength in his first few games with the Heat. An 0 for 8 night from three against the Los Angeles Lakers is a main one that comes to mind, since they just were not dropping, but he refused to stop shooting. And that’s a tendency that Erik Spoelstra loves.

Taking a look at the clip above, he slips the screen and spots up at the wing, immediately pulling with zero hesitation. That was a sticking point with Sturs when looking back at his shooting, due to the fact that every shot looks the same, forgetting about the result.

If I was to point out a weakness in that area, it’s that there was limited side-steps, pump-fakes, and things like that, which meant he trusted his jumper so much no matter the contest he was getting. That’s a positive thing, but only to a certain extent.

Anyway, he played his role to perfection whenever he was thrown in off the bench ice cold. Anre Iguodala joked around earlier in the season that he’s never seen a player make his first shot every single night in any circumstance. The key with that statement is that he was always ready, and that’s something the Miami Heat look for.

To cut over to Gabe Vincent as a shooter, it’s been an interesting ride for him. Everybody remembers from the year prior that his biggest strength was shooting from the outside, with an inability to do anything other than spotting up. But well, the shooting consistency was clearly an issue this season, and there were reasons for it.

For one, he mentioned after the season when speaking with media that he changed his shot a bit mid-way through the season, which clearly takes some getting used to. The natural perception from people observing this Heat team is that Vincent shot the ball poorly this season, while Strus shot it well from deep, and that doesn’t really translate to the numbers.

Strus shot 50 of 148 from deep this season, while Vincent shot 46 of 149 from three. Yes, sometimes numbers can be misconstrued, such as some of Vincent’s coming late in games or Strus’ early struggles plummeted percentages, but either way, the way Vincent has been viewed just isn’t accurate.

He really struggled as a catch and shoot guy, shooting slightly under 30% as a spot-up guy. But lucky for him, he wasn’t in an off-ball role much this season, which I will discuss a little bit more down the line.

Vincent really showed most of his shooting flashes off the dribble, as seen in this clip. He pulls up off the high pick and roll and knocks it down, mostly since momentum pushing him forward leads to a certain rhythm that he’s comfortable with. Spot-up shots play much more into the mental game, and it’s a main reason he adjusted his shot to expand range and make it a bit quicker.

He is very aware that the consistency must get a lot better if he wants a role in this league, and the best thing for it is what he will get this off-season: playing time. With both the Olympics and Summer League approaching, he will get plenty of floor time.

Defense:

There hasn’t been much discussion about the defensive attributes of Strus, but it feels like it must be touched on before diving into the scrappy Vincent.

Strus has the ability to play physical on that end of the floor due to his stocky build, but post defense wasn’t his only area of strength. He surprisingly had some good defensive possessions in the pick and roll, fitting the switching scheme perfectly whenever he was inserted.

Young guys, as well as two-way guys, are always energetic when entering the game on the defensive end, especially on a Heat team that takes pride in it. I remember the first thing that stuck out about Strus when he played early on was his eagerness to eliminate soft switching, which was an issue at the time.

When he knew that he could make it over the screen, he’d fight through so Bam Adebayo didn’t just pick him up effortlessly. As times expanded, there was a realization that it wasn’t the worst thing in the world for him to switch onto the big and bang around in the paint.

Take a look at the clip above as an example, since he stays complacent to eliminate the lob, leading to a missed layup and perfect box-out for a rebound over Jarrett Allen. The shooting is obviously his strength, but the ability to fight on the defensive end kept him on the floor in many of these games.

As I mentioned earlier, we all believed shooting was the primary aspect of Vincent’s game, but it ended up being on the exact opposite end of the floor. Taking charges, hitting passing lanes, and well, finding a scheme that fit him perfectly.

There was a point early in the season where the 2-2-1 press could’ve been called the “Vincent and Iguodala chamber.” They basically waited for those two guys to check in before throwing it at opposing teams, and it worked perfectly.

As seen on this play, they thrived whenever a team didn’t have a true ball-handler in the game. They knew when to contain, then pounce on a certain guy for a double, leading into transition offense. The interesting thing about that statement is that we’re bundling up a guy who got a Finals MVP for basically handling LeBron James, and a two-way player with zero experience. That’s a pretty big compliment.

The reason I think the next step in his offensive game is so important is due to their being so much potential as a defender. Toning down some of the fouls and unnecessary reaches must come next, but once again, that comes with experience at this level.

Attacking:

If you asked me the one thing that surprised me most about Strus this season, my answer would be that he’s sneaky athletic. That didn’t seem to be listed on the player profile before the season, but his Heat teammates learned quickly whenever he got on the floor: he wasn’t afraid to go up and try to dunk on somebody.

When I mentioned previously that side-steps and pump-fakes weren’t included in his offensive package, catch-and-gos definitely were, which is important when a shooter gets going as he did in Houston during this game.

It’s not just about the highlight throw downs, since he’s actually proved to be decently methodical when flowing into a pick and roll to get to the rim. The ball handling factor isn’t his best attribute, but he definitely knows what to do once he gets to the rim.

To be completely honest, picking out clear weaknesses from his game this season would not be easy to do. He did just what he was asked to do, and much more. When discussing his future with the team, it’s pretty clear that he will be back next season, especially with the Duncan Robinson situation.

That doesn’t mean he can replace what he does or that Robinson is gone, but in Miami’s win now shoes, you never know if a trigger could be pulled on a deal, leading to that next man up mentality for Strus. When he was asked about his potential after the season, he responded, “Just look at Duncan. I feel I can be like him.”

That’s far from an easy task, but he’s shown some clear signs that Robinson didn’t even show in his first year.

Whenever Strus entered the game this season, his role was clear: DHO’s, catch and shoot, etc. But Vincent, on the other hand, had a much more complex role that he had to adjust to.

He has played most of his life as an off-ball guy, but was basically handed the keys to the offense when he was inserted. Not only when coming in off the bench, but even starting seven games this season to run their offensive sets with the starters.

Once again, that’s not his comfort area, but he had to adjust quickly after given the opportunity. It’s another reason I believe that he struggled at times from deep. Most young guys, or two-way players, have a specific job and role to fill, while Vincent’s job was to basically make sure everybody else was in their spots, while also checking on his own offensive play-style.

The attacking jumped off the screen in those minutes, as seen above. He’s running double drag with a scoring mindset from the beginning of the play, sprinting right at Joel Embiid for a score at the basket. That wasn’t ever Vincent’s game, but it became his game.

I asked Vincent about having to work on his on-ball attributes this Summer after being put into that spot this season, which he responded, “That part of my game will definitely need to grow, and it will grow. It’ll be very important, most of my career I’ve been off the ball, and now I’ve gone higher and higher throughout basketball, and the more on the ball I am.”

That will be the focus this off-season, since even though many may believe another two-way guy could step in, they trust Vincent’s play and that development will force the Heat to have no other choice but to give him another shot.

 

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at EverythingTradeShows or call 954-791-8882

A Breakdown of Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent

Duncan Robinson and Gabe Vincent are two interesting players to look at following the two match-ups against the Philadelphia 76ers. Duncan had an increased role in the offense, since he was forced to put the ball on the floor more than usual. And Gabe just had a huge increase in playing time, and it allowed him to showcase his overall game.

Here’s a look at the parts of their game that shined…

Duncan Robinson:

– One Dribble Pull-Up

Now, this is the one attribute in Duncan Robinson’s game that I’ve been discussing since the beginning of the off-season. It’s known that Duncan is on the top of scouting reports now, which leads to defenses chasing him off the three. But to open up the perimeter for him, the mid-range will need to be utilized. It doesn’t need to be a huge change though, as seen here, a one dribble pull-up seems to be in his offensive package. And that one move can change his entire game.

– Confident Attacker

Duncan doesn’t get associated with the word attacker much, but it was needed in a game with no Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. On this play, Robinson gave a quick jab step and attacked right off the dribble. Dwight Howard came down to help, but Duncan gave a quick scoop layup with the off-hand. He may not take others off the dribble much, but he seems to be creative at the basket when he does.

– Creative Play-Making off the Drive

After Duncan got to the basket a few times, as seen in the last clip, it causes the defense to collapse down low. On this play, three Philly defenders crash once Duncan gets to the basket, and he seems to get caught in the air. He then has to make a quick decision to pass the ball to the corner or the wing, since there was only one defender on the perimeter. Robinson looked at the corner which caused Mike Scott to drop down, and he threw it out to an open Kelly Olynyk for a three.

– Great Feel Leads to Separation 

Once again, Duncan doesn’t get discussed from these perspectives on offense due to his elite shooting, but it needs to be acknowledged. Here, Duncan comes off of a curl to cause a 2 on 1 with Precious Achiuwa. He has Danny Green right on his hip, which is exactly where he wants him. He sees Joel Embiid on his heels, so it’s obvious he’s taking the shot. But instead of shooting it as a jumper, with the chance of it getting blocker since Green is on his left, he puts up a one-hand floater. This mirrors his overall offensive feel in spots other than the catch and shoot.

Gabe Vincent:

– Pull-Up Three in Transition

This attribute of Gabe Vincent can be displayed all day due to the amount of times he shoots on the move in transition. As seen here, he is very comfortable when shooting a pull-up three, mostly since he can shoot over the top of people, even at 6’3. This was an example of the catch and shoot, but he also pulls up in transition off the dribble. This is very hard for a defense to maintain, especially since he continues to showcase his ability to attack. The reason he is able to shoot this way while running up, is because of his lower body frame. He is one of the most balanced shooters you can watch, since he can stop on an absolute dime to get into his normal shooting motion.

– Off-Hand at the Rim

I’ve alluded to Gabe’s ability to score at the rim lately, but what stands out more is the way he scores at the rim. He’s very comfortable using his off-hand on layups, and even floaters. As shown here, he drives to the basket and kisses it off the top of the backboard with his left hand. A few minutes later, he goes right at Joel Embiid to lay it in with a left handed finger role. People describe Tyler Herro with the word confidence frequently, but Gabe fits that description just as well.

– Reading what the Defense Gives Him

One of the biggest things that stands out to me when watching Gabe Vincent is his ability to read a defense, which is even more intriguing when facing a top defender in Ben Simmons. There are four minutes left in the 4th quarter, and Simmons is guarding Vincent. Gabe gives him a pump-fake which freezes him, and drives right to the basket for a layup. And yes, it was another off-hand layup. Shortly after, he comes off of a screen with Joel Embiid in front of him and Ben Simmons trailing, so he stops on a dime knowing Ben will run right into him. It’s the small things that are seen in Gabe’s offensive game that are so intriguing.

– Fundamental Offensive Game

One of the areas that Gabe has surprised me the most was his passing. He seems to know the offense very well, which has a lot to do with the absence of the G-League, since he’s been in every practice with this Heat team. On this play, he notices Joel Embiid sliding over to him, which puts him out of position to stop Kelly Olynyk. He throws a perfect bounce pass for an easy layup. This has a lot to do with the previous clip about reading a defense. He can see the court very well, which is impressive considering the fact that he hasn’t had major floor time.

Who Is Gabe Vincent Trying to Learn From?

Gabe Vincent is one of the more interesting names on this Heat team right now, since they’re currently down to eight players due to the Covid protocols.

And he had a very promising performance on Tuesday night, scoring 24 points while showcasing his overall offensive package.

But who has been the biggest contributor to the development of Gabe Vincent on this Heat team?

Well, that would be Heat’s veteran guard Goran Dragic.

Before the season started, Gabe said, “I’ve learned a lot from Goran…I hang out with Goran off the court at times and I look up to him.”

A couple days later, Goran discussed his time spent with Vincent, saying “He’s a great player…I’m expecting good things from him.”

Now, Goran taking Gabe under his wing speaks major volume. That’s because Goran would not just mentor a random G-League player if he didn’t actually see something in him.

I asked Gabe Vincent following Tuesday’s game about Goran’s message to him heading into this match-up where he would be seeing the floor a lot.

He mentioned that he had a text from him on his phone that he hadn’t checked yet. He followed that saying “Me and Goran have gotten really close. I’m picking his brain any chance I can get.”

The main takeaway from Vincent’s performance was that he’s not just the typical shooter. He had a chance to showcase his defensive abilities, as well as an advanced way to navigate to the basket. And when discussing creativity when attacking the rim, it almost seems as if Goran could’ve played a role in that development.

Gabe also said that he was looking forward to talking to Goran after the game, so he can get his opinion on the things he saw, and things he can get better at.

I think everybody is aware that the consensus of this team is accountability. And that begins with relationships in the locker room with mentor-ship.

It’s great that Vincent can use these games to continue to develop, since there’s a good chance he can end up playing a legitimate role on this Heat team going forward.

Gabe Vincent: Possibly The Next Man Up

One thing about the Miami Heat is that they don’t lack an ounce of shooting. But luckily in today’s NBA, there can never be too many shooters on a roster.

Something I’ve mentioned as of late is that depth will be huge this upcoming season, for many different reasons. And having Gabe Vincent at the end of the bench is more than ideal.

In the G-League this past year, Vincent averaged 23.7 points, while knocking down 4.4 threes a game.

Shooting is the first thing that sticks out in his game, since he’s not afraid to put shots up. His confidence is clear when on the floor, since he came out firing in the first game he played for the Miami Heat.

He checked in when Miami faced the Los Angeles Clippers back in February, and hit three triples right when he got out there. Although it can be streaky at times, it’s always good to have a shot maker like him on the roster.

He’s also an underrated attacker, which is what he showed in some of the regular season bubble games. Although he had limited minutes and didn’t jump out in the stat sheet, he made some intriguing plays offensively that showed he can get some bench minutes if need be.

He also won the G-League Most Improved Player Award this past season, and he seems eager to continue to improve and round out the rest of his game.

While I can point out some things that Gabe may need to tweak to get minutes in this league, there’s no way of actually knowing until he gets some minutes this next season. One of the reasons he didn’t stick out in most of the games he has played, seems to be due to a certain level of comfort. Some guys like Tyler Herro are able to blend in quick, while others need some time to get ready.

Duncan Robinson took a year to prepare in the G-League, and look where he is now. Vincent is also about the same age as Duncan was when he went through this process.

It’s definitely not insane to think that Vincent can potentially get playing time next season, especially since there’s a good chance Spo goes deeper into his bench. Some of it may be predicated on who Miami drafts, since if they draft a point guard, it’ll be clear they aren’t planning on his development.

Miami always enjoys grabbing un-drafted players who have something to prove, and it’s obvious that Gabe Vincent is determined to prove himself.

5 Key Moments from Interviews with Spoelstra, Vincent, Leonard

The Miami Heat had another intense practice in the Orlando bubble late Sunday night. They got to do a lot more 5 on 5 work tonight, since they’re getting closer and closer to the return of play. Well, here’s some things that were said after practice…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

There has been a lot of talk this week from Spoelstra about the different defenses that may be used heading into the postseason. Well, he took a different approach tonight saying that they “created an identity and found some success with that.” He’s not worried about forming new defensive schemes as much as he’s worried about improving the current ones. One of the main defensive changes we may see will be the different defensive lineups that Coach Spoelstra tends to lean to. Will it be a veteran in Andre Iguodala or a young guy in Derrick Jones Jr? Only time will tell.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

The Miami Heat’s first scrimmage game is this Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. Spoelstra seems to be very eager for this match-up saying, “I have to tell my staff to tell me to calm down.” He says before he jumps into it, he needs to see who will be available. Then adds, “Everyone available will probably play.” This game will be taken as a pre-season game, which is essentially what it is. But the Heat will be taking this game as serious as any other, since Spoelstra says he has a bunch of things to accomplish.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Gabe Vincent got to talk to some media after practice tonight and seemed pretty confident in his role with this team. He first discusses the amount of elite level shooting in the NBA, which lead to him watching a lot of film on some of the best spot up shooters. He also says that he thinks he can be utilized the same way that Duncan Robinson is now and Wayne Ellington in the past. He also considers himself a major threat to pull up or create on the perimeter. Be ready to see a lot of minutes from Gabe Vincent in both the scrimmages and regular season games, especially since he has the capability of getting hot. Very hot.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Meyers Leonard was asked how to define the Most Improved Player award. He responded, “It’s Bam.” He also adds, “You talk about a young guy developing into a superstar right before our eyes.” Meyers continues to rave about how great Bam is, but I’d like to think Meyers may have a little something to do with his improvement. The assistance of Meyers on and off the court this season for Bam has been absolutely tremendous. His ability to stretch the floor for Bam and give Bam the ball where he is most comfortable has been a huge part in the growth of this developing “superstar.”

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Meyers talks about the amount of versatility there is across the board on this team. He says, “Imagine a lineup of Jimmy-DJJ-Jae-Andre-Bam.” The pure excitement that Meyers shows when he talks about his teammates is absolutely unmatched. It shows the amount of confidence they have in each other every single night. This statement also refers back to the Erik Spoelstra comment on improving their current defensive schemes. Playing around with these types of lineups in a playoff setting will be key since there are some vulnerabilities on the floor at times on defense. Either way, this entire team will be ready for their name to be called on any given night.