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Erik Spoelstra: “Different Group, Same Goal”

Erik Spoelstra discussed a lot of things in his press conference this afternoon, as they get ready for the start of the season.

One of the first things that stood out was when he mentioned the veterans and youth heading into the season.

He started off talking about the veterans may need a bit more rest due to the quick turnaround, but the young guys are definitely ready. He said jokingly, “Our guys like Tyler, Duncan, K-Nunn were ready three months ago.”

He then threw Bam Adebayo into that discussion, mentioning that people need to remember how young Bam still is.

Bam Adebayo’s name seems to come up quite a lot in these zoom calls, but Coach Spoelstra elaborated on his extension a bit. He said, “I’m really happy for Bam and his family. He’s worked for this in the right way. He’s all about Heat culture and winning. In many ways, he’s like Jimmy…As I said a few years ago, my nickname for him is no ceiling.”

Coaches always seem to gas up their young players, especially ones who are the centerpiece of the team. But when Erik Spoelstra or anyone on the Heat team talk about Bam, it’s truly real and authentic. And that speaks volume.

This season will clearly be a unique one, which means a lot of things are up in the air. That includes Jimmy Butler’s exact minutes, since Spoelstra said “He’s not going to be playing the kind of minutes regardless, like he was in his early twenties.” Especially with the quick off-season, this will be the case, but ultimately it is Jimmy’s decision. And he’s going to push to be on the floor as much as possible.

And speaking of things being up in the air, the rotation is definitely an uncertainty right now. I’ve been saying that training camp will hold high value for the players to crack the rotation, but it’ll also be decision time for Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff.

He said, “It can be different a week from now, two weeks from now, two months from now.” And Miami has the luxury of looking at it that way because of their depth.

One of Miami’s interesting depth pieces is rookie Precious Achiuwa. When Coach Spo was asked about him, he said “His athleticism, quickness, fluidity, ability to play multiple positions on defense all jumped off the screem.” He also mentioned that he texted Mike Miller about him, who was on Memphis’ coaching staff, and he told him Precious would translate perfectly.

Erik finished off the media session saying that the first team practice will be on Sunday, and it seems as if he’s ready to get the season going. He said, “Different group, same goal.”

That has been his motto entering every season.

Many coaches can say it. But only few truly mean it.

Duncan Robinson: “Motivation is at an All-Time High”

Duncan Robinson mostly spoke about the improvements he is looking to make in his presser this afternoon.

He started off by saying, “I definitely have some areas of focus in my mind.”

He then elaborated mentioning that his body is the primary focus, especially when playing for the Miami Heat. Duncan also mentioned the defensive improvements that need to be made, which he’s been working on with Heat trainers.

And most importantly, he discussed adding a mid-range game to his offensive package. This is something that I’ve mentioned all off-season, since it was obvious he would work on a one-dribble pull-up all off-season. That one addition opens up his entire offensive game, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

He also talked about his poor performance in the first two finals games, which he said he wished he could get those two games back. But, he mentioned you just have to move forward, and “Motivation is at an all-time high.”

It seems as if motivation is high for everybody in that locker room, since it’s clear that they’ve seen the “fluke” comments. Duncan Robinson addressed it saying, “The chip with our group is as big as ever after hearing rumors that it was a fluke.”

Finally, he ended off mentioning that he’s thankful for the group he has around him, saying “One thing I love is that people are always in my ear encouraging.”

Duncan seems focused on yet another break-out season, since he said “I always feel like the percentages can go up.”

And with all of the improvements that Duncan is mentioning, it will make for an intriguing start of the season for the Miami Heat.

Goran Dragic: “I’m Here to Help”

Goran Dragic made it clear that he is not worried about his role heading into next season, when speaking with media.

He said, “I’m here to help, whatever coach needs.”

Another reason that he will most likely come off the bench next season, is so he can preserve himself for the playoffs once again.

He mentioned that the depth of this team helps that even more, saying “The depth is crazy. We have eleven guys on the roster who can play.” And even before that when assessing the idea of a shorter off-season, he said “I’m not worried about that because we have so many players that can step up.”

Goran also elaborated on some of the young guys going into next season, saying “I can’t wait for them to take the next step. They’re a big part of this team.”

He also talked about his excitement for the Bam Adebayo extension, saying “I’m very happy for Bam. He deserves every dollar, every penny…I saw him when he was a rookie, and now he’s developed into a superstar in this league.”

And of course Goran had to bring up the idea of getting back to the Finals, which it seems as if it’s been weighing on his mind. He said, “I’m dreaming about that, every night when I go to bed.”

Lastly, Goran just began talking about his gratitude for staying with this Miami Heat team and organization. He mentioned their culture, while wearing the culture T-shirt, and said “I feel amazing. Miami Heat culture. I’m happy to be a part of this team.”

And clearly his teammates are happy to have him back as well, especially the young guys after many of them discussed his mentorship for them as they developed.

Goran is back, and as he said, he is “ready to help.”

Tyler Herro: “Championship is Our Only Goal”

Tyler Herro got to speak with media on Wednesday afternoon, which he discussed both himself, and the rest of the team.

When discussing his improvements, he started off by saying, “I’m really just working on getting my handles tighter to be that primary ball-handler if needed.”

He also discussed the obvious defensive improvements that will need to be made, which he mentioned that is something he’s been working on.

When he was asked about his role for this upcoming season, he said “Everybody’s goal is to start….But whatever coach wants me to do I’m willing to do.” He reiterated that he was utilized in both roles in his rookie year, and he’s “ready to take it on” no matter the situation.

Tyler also began discussing a bunch of his teammates that have had an impact on him. When asked about Bam Adebayo he said, “I’m excited that Bam got his max. There’s nobody more deserving than him.”

He also gave some high praise for Duncan Robinson, saying “He’s really one of the best shooters in the world.”

The veterans on the team clearly had an impact on him as well, and he believes he still has much more to learn. He said, “I’m still 20. We still have amazing vets and I’m still young.”

Jimmy Butler took Tyler under his wing for his rookie season, and he even invited Tyler to go on vacation with him this off-season. Tyler mentioned that he declined since he told him “you need to go by yourself and enjoy it.”

And speaking of taking guys under their wing, Precious Achiuwa obviously got brought up. He immediately said that he doesn’t believe he’s taking him under his wing, which makes sense since Tyler is younger than Precious.

He did make sure to talk about all of Precious Achiuwa’s strengths, which he included “Miami’s going to fall in love with him.”

Tyler made sure to end it off with the primary focus of this team, saying “At the end of the day, the championship is our only goal.”

And if a bunch of Miami’s young guys make the leaps that many are expecting, that clearly is a valid goal.

KZ Okpala: “I Feel Good in my Development”

KZ Okpala got to speak with media this morning and it was clearly different from other players.

For one, there’s still uncertainty about his style of play or strengths since he hasn’t played much for Miami.

He did say though that he feels good in his development, and that he “learned a lot.”

When talking about his development, his body seems to be the thing that he is trying to take care of the most. After mentioning that he’s been gaining muscle and is at 5.5% body fat, he said “I think the main thing for me is to be in great shape.”

One of the main things that helped him learn was the young guys, including Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson. After he saw them get the opportunities that they got this past season, it gave him a different perspective, which he said, “Seeing how they work really inspired me.”

He has also taken a lot from Jimmy Butler, especially after his bubble run. KZ said, “It was nothing I’ve ever seen…I truly believe he’s the best.” He then elaborated about his leadership on the team, since Jimmy can yell at him and he doesn’t take offense.

When discussing his exact strengths on the court, he spoke about his defensive abilities mostly, since that is where he strives. But he also mentioned his offensive skill-set, which he said, “With the play-makers we have, I feel I can score off cuts.”

He doesn’t believe his offensive package ends there though, since he also said “I’m confident with my three ball.”

Most importantly, he just seems very ready to get out on that court and perform. The confidence the organization and team has given him has been essential, since he said, “The way they are pushing me means they care.”

And that is obvious, since they’ve been very reluctant to include him in any trade packages this off-season. It is going to be interesting to see how Erik Spoelstra utilizes him, since he has the attributes to make an immediate impact for this team.

Kendrick Nunn: “Putting in Non-Stop Work”

Kendrick Nunn spoke with media as well on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve been putting in non-stop work.”

The specific improvements that he’s been trying to make this off-season have been his catch and shoot game. He mentioned that he’s “trying to improve in areas that I will be needed most for my team.” And he’s of the mindset that will be off the ball.

He is still focused on his point guard qualities, since he said he’s “learning how to be a lead guard and a play-maker.” He followed that mentioning that the main job of a guard is to be an on-court leader.

He was very excited to have his mentor Goran Dragic return for this season, saying “He leads by example, that’s one thing I’ve learned from Goran, how hard he works.”

Another improvement that he’s been focused on is his body. He reiterated that staying in shape is the most important thing since you’re always playing at your highest level. He mentioned that he dropped 8 to 10 pounds, but “got that back once I started working out.”

Obviously he caught Covid before heading into the bubble, which can clearly take a toll on your body. When speaking about Covid, he said “Obviously it’s a contagious virus, and you can catch it again after catching it once.” He then follows that saying “I’ve had it previously but I’m scared to catch it again.”

The Covid precautions will clearly make this season very unique, but Kendrick Nunn and the rest of the team seem to be ready. As Kendrick said about going to the championship, “We’re just looking to do that again, and get better and win it all.”

Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, Kendrick Nunn mentioned the fact that “Guys are gonna be fighting for their spot come training camp.” This is something I’ve been mentioning quite a lot, since Kendrick Nunn is possibly the fifth guard on the roster.

Training camp will be like a mini showcase for Miami, since even though this team is one, every player is fighting for themselves to prove their worth.

Precious Achiuwa: “Do Whatever it Takes to Win”

Precious Achiuwa spoke with media this morning after the first day of individual workouts.

“Do whatever it takes to win.” That seemed to be his primary focus when speaking about this Heat team, since it was repeated over and over.

That might be something he heard from Jimmy Butler once he got drafted, since Precious mentioned they spoke following the draft. Precious said, “He told me at the end of the day the goal is winning. And I want to win.”

Although Jimmy reached out to him, Tyler Herro seems to be the guy that speaks to him the most. They’ve obviously been working out together lately, but Precious mentioned it’s “Something we’re gonna do for a very long time, why not start off early.”

That quote may put some things in a different perspective, since some may want to constantly package their youth in a trade, while Precious and Tyler are looking to make this thing permanent.

Something else that was reiterated throughout the media session was his love for Miami heat basketball, even before he was drafted. “I love to watch winning basketball. I love to watch people play hard and that is Heat basketball.”

Precious Achiuwa clearly has to go through a unique path before starting this NBA season, due to the absence of Summer League, but he’s pretty confident that he is ready.

Miami’s role for him is a separate question, but he’s a guy that seems to have everybody in that locker room and organization excited.

Miami Heat Sign Max Strus

The Miami Heat just signed Max Strus, which pretty much showed that a roster can never have too much shooting.

Greg Sylvander reported in the past that Miami had interest in him, which isn’t surprising since Miami always ends up getting the guys they want, no matter how long it takes.

For starters, he’s a great offensive player which is mostly headlined by shooting. The attribute that comes up most with Strus is his shooting on the move off of screens. And well, Miami’s dribble hand-offs will clearly work in his favor.

He also has good size which means he can put smaller guys in the post when needed, which leads to him getting to the free throw line. And the last thing you want to do is put him on the free throw line, since he shot 96% from the stripe in the G-League.

He has obvious scoring abilities, after he averaged 20 points a game in his last year at DePaul, knocking down 3 triples a game on 36% shooting.

And college wasn’t the only place he put that on display, since he averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists per game in the G-League, before tearing his ACL.

Adversity is the word that best describes Max Strus, since instead of trying to make that next jump in his game to get on an NBA roster, the long process of rehab had to begin.

But now he seems to be back and better than ever, since he was cleared for contact about a month ago.

His story before getting signed by Miami also seems a bit familiar. Playing Dll before heading to DePaul for two years. A good shooter who went undrafted. And now signed by Miami.

There’s a reason these stories always end up on Miami’s roster. It’s because they love guys who have something to prove, and Max Strus has something to prove.

And most importantly, there’s no better development group to trust than the Miami Heat.

Max Strus, welcome to Miami.

The Meyers Leonard Return: Running it Back

“Whatever role I’m put in, I’m gonna do it and I’m gonna do it well.”

That’s what Meyers Leonard told media last week about his role heading into next season.

As training camp is set to begin tomorrow, there will be a lot of interesting changes that will be made. For one, Moe Harkless and Avery Bradley trying to mesh with the team, while Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr have parted ways.

Another thing is that there will be increased roles for the young guys including a possible starting job for Tyler Herro, plus getting Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala acquainted with the team.

There seems to be so much uncertainty surrounding the rotation, but there’s a good chance we see a similar starting front-court from last season.

Bam Adebayo and Meyers Leonard headlined the front-court last season, and were a big reason that starting lineup was one of the most effective in the league.

The perimeter shooting from Meyers gives Bam the space he needs to work the offense, which usually occurs at the free throw line extended.

And the thing that stands out the most defensively with Meyers is the comfortability factor, since his vocal on-court attributes help everybody out on the floor.

Once again, that is something big for the young guys on the roster, since having a free safety in the back calling out screens and plays can truly help a player’s confidence.

“Watching what Jimmy did…It made me feel like I could run through a wall in all of my off-season training. And I have.”

That statement from Meyers sums up this Heat team. A big advantage Miami has over other teams is their chemistry on and off the floor, but mostly since they all drive each other to be better.

And that chemistry can possibly continue with a very similar starting lineup, except they get to sprinkle in some more depth throughout the game, which will be very important this season.

Meyers is looking to come back stronger than ever after recovering from his ankle injury, and this team knows he will be ready to make an impact on day one.

Miami’s Building A Team for Erik Spoelstra

There have been many roads that the Miami Heat have gone down with Erik Spoelstra running the show.

Big threes. Wild locker rooms. Wild personalities.

But now, he finally has his perfect group.

For starters, it’s obvious that Jimmy Butler is the perfect leader for a team that Erik Spoelstra is coaching, while Bam Adebayo is the perfect centerpiece going forward. But most importantly, the entire roster is forming to his exact liking.

That is because of a bunch of reasons, mostly headlined by versatility and depth. He has the perfect mixture of everything you would want: Veterans and Youth, Offensive talents and Defensive talents. It’s clear he has options.

Many teams in the past have seemed to be built for a specific player, but finally he has his team. His ideal team.

This season will allow Spo to be the most creative he’s been in his career. For one, teams will need to adjust and be creative as they were in the bubble, since this season will be like no other.

Everything seems to be up in the air with the rotation. Does he start a second year Tyler Herro or a veteran Avery Bradley? Do the power forward minutes go to veteran Moe Harkless or rookie Precious Achiuwa?

And honestly, he might have to go to it all, but at some point decisions will have to be made. Spo’s initial evaluation on the roster later in the season will no doubt be the correct one, since he’s been doing it for years.

Lastly, he finally has a bunch of dogs to coach, so he doesn’t have to worry about a lack of effort or intensity. There have been some instances over the past few years where he’s had some players that did not have that same mentality. But once again, he knows his lead dog has the mental toughness that he’s been waiting for, and now it’s time to be unleashed.

Erik Spoelstra solidified his coaching status after the incredible finals run this past year, but he’s not finished. He has a group of guys that fit perfectly, and he’s looking to do much more than just making it to the Finals.