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Miami Has a Plan: Unknown Development

The Miami Heat made two decent signings in free agency thus far after retaining Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard. They brought in Avery Bradley and Moe Harkless on very good contracts.

This meant that they lost Jae Crowder to the Phoenix Suns. Although they made two big time acquisitions, that Crowder role will need to be filled, and I think it’ll be an in-house move.

Moe Harkless, in my opinion, is the replacement of Derrick Jones Jr, while Avery Bradley is the big time point of attack defender that Miami has needed. Now that the power forward position needs to be filled, there are two 21 year olds waiting to make that jump.

If Miami doesn’t go after a Jae Crowder replacement, it’s a clear indication that they believe in KZ Okpala or Precious Achiuwa to make that jump, or maybe even both.

It’s basically the Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro situation from this past season. A rookie immediately having a role, while a second year player who spent his rookie year in the G-League makes a big impact. We’ve seen this play out before, so what makes you think Pat Riley won’t do it again?

There’s a reason that Miami is reluctant to include KZ Okpala in any deals. It’s because they see something special in him, which isn’t a term that’s handed out freely from the Miami Heat’s organization. And Precious Achiuwa seems to be getting a lot of love too, since Pat Riley doesn’t always show that same excitement for an incoming rookie every year.

Since there’s less time for an incoming rookie to prepare, I believe KZ Okpala would probably be the more likely option that Miami’s waiting to let free. But once again, Precious could possibly be that guy as well.

As I said at the start of free agency, Miami will have a plan if Jae Crowder walks. Although that plan was to sign Avery Bradley, that is not a Crowder filler. And the reason they didn’t try and fill Crowder’s shoes in free agency, is because they already have two young wings ready to make that jump.

KZ Okpala. Precious Achiuwa. Your time is now. Go earn your spot.

#BugBrady: Taking Your Miami Heat Questions #4

Well, Miami definitely views KZ Okpala as apart of their young core for the future.

The reason that is so clear is because they are very reluctant to include KZ in possible trades for a star. They’ve seen his potential since the NBA draft, since they were set to pick KZ with the 13th overall pick if Tyler Herro was already taken.

I believe he has a role in Miami’s rotation this next season, basically replacing what Derrick Jones Jr was asked to do.

And as I’ve mentioned before, he’s going through a similar process that Duncan Robinson went through, by going back and forth between the G-League and Heat team in his rookie year while flying under the radar. I don’t think it’ll be exactly like Duncan, since he went immediately into the starting lineup, but he definitely will have a role.

Miami has high hopes for his future and Heat fans should too.

Well, these are definitely two separate questions.

I believe that Tyler Herro should be included in a possible deal for Giannis Antetokounmpo if needed, but I definitely don’t feel the same way about Jrue Holiday.

The only way Pat Riley and Miami’s front office will send away Tyler Herro is for a generational talent like Giannis. Jrue Holiday is a solid player, and I believe he’d fit tremendously on this Heat team, but it’s not a clear upgrade in Miami’s eyes.

Obviously Jrue is a better player than Tyler, especially on the defensive end, but he is also 10 years older than Herro. And it’s also been reported that Miami would not include Tyler Herro in any possible trade for Jrue.

But once again, if the only way to get Giannis is via trade, Miami definitely would think about trading Herro away to get the whale.

De’Aaron Fox’s three point shooting actually wouldn’t concern me at all.

For one, he’s the number one option on the Sacramento Kings, which means efficiency is not always his worry. Instead, he just makes sure to get a bunch of shots up, even if shooting isn’t his best attribute.

But if he was the third option on this Heat team, his shot selection would change dramatically, including a lot more open corner threes.

And by the way, when you have Duncan Robinson on the floor, shooting should never be a worry.

Adding De’Aaron Fox to Miami’s offense would not hurt them, instead their offense would be even more fluid and it would improve their offensive speed. It’s also clear what he would do to Miami’s defense, since he can lock up any opposing guards.

If Miami can reunite this Kentucky duo, it would be pretty ideal.

KZ Okpala Is Up Next For Miami

It was no coincidence that Miami’s second round draft pick KZ Okpala went through a similar rookie season as second year player Duncan Robinson.

Duncan went through his rookie year with a two-way contract, spending most of his time getting ready for the Sioux Falls Skyforce team. He put up an intriguing stat line of 21 points a game, along with close to 5 threes per game as well.

Chet Kammerer even told the Sun Sentinel, “We purposely didn’t bring him in,” which is exactly what I’ve been saying Miami has been doing with KZ Okpala all along.

Although KZ wasn’t putting up 21 a game in the G-League, he was filling up the stat sheet quite nicely. He averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists, but what jumped out most was his 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks a game.

Something I’ve noticed with the G-League is that it always seems to spotlight a player’s strength, like Duncan hitting 5 threes a game. And KZ’s spotlight has clearly been on the defensive side of the ball.

Obviously his length and quickness to guard guys out on the perimeter is just a God-given talent, but his tenacity and energy on defense just screams Heat culture.

And it’s hard to truly talk about a player’s defensive abilities until he’s guarding players in the actual league, but he seemed to showcase that talent when he got inserted into the game against Sacramento early in the season.

 

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The first thing that stood out from his defensive abilities that night was how quick he can move his feet. They played a lot of zone in that game with him at the top of it, and he just never stopped moving. And you may say that the word length is overstated at times with players, but KZ definitely used it to his advantage. Kings players had major trouble trying to get good shots off over his contests.

The only downfall that was shown in that game was foul trouble. He makes it such a priority to put as much effort as possible on that side of the ball, that he begins to reach which forces the whistle to get blown. Some of it may have had something to do with the fact that he had a small frame, but it’s clear he’s continued to add muscle and change his body.

With Derrick Jones Jr possibly leaving in free agency, it’s the perfect opportunity for KZ to step up into a new role in Miami’s rotation. Miami always seems to put the ultimate amount of trust in their players, which is why they started Duncan Robinson and Erik Spoelstra made comments prior to the season that he’s the best shooter in the NBA.

I believe they show KZ that same exact trust by giving him an increased amount of minutes on the first game of the season.

Once again, it’s not a coincidence that they gave KZ a year to work himself in like Duncan did, it’s just their process.

There’s also a reason that Miami seems reluctant to include KZ Okpala in trade packages for solid players. It’s because Pat Riley and the Heat front office see something in him, and that speaks major volume.

#BugBrady: Taking Your Miami Heat Questions #2

Honestly, if we’re talking about realistic possibilities, I would like to see a Jae Crowder re-signing more than anything. Obviously there is hope that Miami can throw him a big one year deal and try to get someone else, but in my opinion that should be priority.

We can discuss possible fits next to Bam Adebayo, mostly since there is a need for a rebounding big, but Jae had a pretty great run at the 4 next to Bam in the Bubble. If you take a look back, he had an amazing stretch shooting the ball, which was not something expected when Miami brought him here originally. He had some cold stretches towards the end of the run, but he kept that hot streak going longer than many expected.

His defensive presence was also known upon arrival, but he was given a much bigger defensive role throughout the playoffs. He had to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo for most of the Milwaukee series, and held his own against Jayson Tatum. And when he was asked to guard opposing bigs on the Lakers, he did that as well.

Miami could really use Jae Crowder next season, and it’s a pretty realistic signing.

You mentioned it right there, Serge Ibaka is the most ideal signing. I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t think there’s a better player to put next to Bam than Serge Ibaka. He’s everything you’d want, since he can rebound, protect the rim, and space the floor.

And when I say space the floor, I don’t just mean that he can shoot the three ball, which he can. I really mean that he has a great feel for the game, that he knows where to position himself offensively to find dead spots. It helps that he played with a dynamic Toronto Raptors team, so he had to get out of others way. He likes to position himself on the baseline right outside of the paint, since he can be a disruption on the glass. This would allow Bam to work in his favorite spots, mostly at the free throw line extended.

He also brings another element to their offense, which is a solid post-up game. Bam and Ibaka have such opposite playing styles, that I truly believe that big-man duo would work perfectly.

If Miami has a chance to grab Serge Ibaka, they will jump at it as fast as possible.

Well, I don’t know about significant, but I do believe that KZ Okpala could find himself a solid bench role.

Duncan Robinson bounced back and forth from the G-League to the Heat team all of his rookie year, much like KZ has. And look where he is now. This gave Duncan an entire season and off-season to be fully ready to make an immediate impact.

It seems like that’s the way they’re heading with KZ Okpala, especially since there’s a good chance Derrick Jones Jr won’t be in Miami next season. They are hoping he can take the role of DJJ, just younger and cheaper.

He showed during the season that he is an energetic defensive guy, and many believe his offensive package is evolving more and more.

Once again, I don’t know about significant impact, but I do believe he has a role next season off of Miami’s bench.