The Miami Heat’s participation in Summer League play after taking a year off is underway with a few players hoping to make a name for themselves in the hopes of grabbing a roster spot. The question is whether Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra will resist the temptation of adding veterans at the minimum for these final spots instead of these raw rookies. Only former Heat player Shavlik Randolph has any NBA experience among the 15 players on the summer roster and the rest may be too raw for the new-look Heat roster expected to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The Heat’s second game in the tournament ended with a tight loss to the Golden State Warriors thanks to Brian Chase’s late 3-pointer. While the Heat held a lead throughout most of the game the Warriors stormed back with some timely baskets in the fourth period. The Heat had 23 turnovers for the game as most players looked to get their own shots and impress the coaching staff instead of finding the open man and getting easy looks, something that pretty much every Summer League team in the tournament is prone to doing.
Coach Fizdale strangely went with a tight rotation, only utilizing five bench players and leaving nine players as strictly spectators.
Duke guard Jon Scheyer started off playing well but had to leave the game after only seven minutes due to a head injury and had to be taken to the hospital. He was down on the floor for a good five minutes before leaving for good. No word yet on whether he will continue to play in the tournament but the little I did see of him showed he could merit a spot in training camp to see how his skills could compliment the veterans. Decent ball-handling skills were displayed but the shooting touch will have to wait for another game if he does make it back.
Dexter Pittman looks to have slimmed down but still has a lot of work to do. The question is whether the Heat training staff feels like his rawness is something worth developing this year on a completely overhauled roster expected to do great things. No doubt he has some skills but his body robs him of any explosiveness that leaves him exposed to getting most of his shots contested and blocked. He finished with only 7 points (2-6 FGs) , 4 rebounds and 4 turnovers in 18 minutes of work.
"We didn’t execute well, we had a lot of turnovers," Pittman said after the game. "We need to share the ball a little more. I think we tried a little more at the end of the game but it was too late." I then asked him what he thought of his progress from the first game of summer league to this second game: "I think I could have done a little better. I really thought I was going to come out and be a more offensive threat but my shots weren’t falling for some reason, but though they’re good moves. I mean, I’m not going to stop, I’m going to keep working at it."
A nice surprise was the play of Garret Siler who has practically the same body as Pittman but played better overall. Neither will break any speed records but Siler had some nice moves around the basket and used his strength as an advantage on the defensive end by constantly moving and altering some shots. In 18 minutes he went for 10 points (an efficient 4-5 FGs) with 6 rebounds (2 offensive). It will be interesting to see how coach Fizdale adjusts the minutes of both Siler and Pittman in the next game and which one he’ll trust in late game situations. Both are magnets for foul trouble thanks to their wide bodies with a combined 9 fouls between them.
Shavlik Randolph and Kenny Hasbrouck are the elders of the rosters as they’ve put in their time with the Heat last season and both were rewarded with heavy minutes. Randolph had plenty of touches throughout the game as most of the offensive game went through him at one point or another. He still lacks the strength to finish around the basket consistently despite possessing some nifty footwork. His game doesn’t appear to have developed much from last season so it’s interesting that Fizdale gives him so many minutes while leaving so many newcomers on the bench.
"I think we definitely have improved," Randolph said afterwards. "The results were unfortunate in this game. Golden State hit some really, really tough shots there at the end. But I think our execution has improved. Our defensive positioning and defensive rotations have gotten better. You see different guys step up. Although we didn’t win I do think it was a step in a positive direction."
Hasbrouck logged the most minutes for the Heat and handled the ball a lot more than usual due to Scheyer’s injury. When Patrick Beverley was in the game Hasbrouck would play shooting guard, which is his more natural position, but he was comfortable bringing the ball upcourt when Beverley was resting as well and showed some versatility. It’s easy to see why the Heat brought him in late last season to see what he could do because he does have a nice set of offensive skills. He led the team with 14 points (5-10 FGs, 2-3 three-point FGs) but didn’t log any assists despite being the primary ballhandler for stretches of the game.
"Early in the game I think I came out too aggressive. I was taking quick shots and playing against Golden State that’s what they want you to do so they can run," said Hasbrouck. "When I finally got myself together, I took better shots in the second half even though some didn’t fall but as a whole we just need to stop turning the ball over so much. We have 46 in the last two games total and that’s not going to win games for us. We need to play more as a team. Some of us were playing selfish, including myself, where you’re taking bad shots instead of using each other to score points."
By far the most impressive player was Beverley who ran the offense efficiently and shined on the defensive end. The days of Carlos Arroyo, Chris Quinn and Rafer Alston walking the ball upcourt flirting with a backcourt violation would be a distant memory if Beverley makes the team. He’d be a really good fit with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James running the floor. Beverley doesn't need to look for his own shot, which almost makes him too unselfish at times. I liked his energy on both sides of the court and when he was resting the Heat’s offense simply wasn’t running as smoothly without him.
His stats of 6 points, 5 assists and 6 turnovers are misleading as he definitely has potential to get better and his decisions handling the ball would look more impressive with more talented players surrounding him. A larger sample of games is needed to fully access his talents but I liked what I saw so far.
Lastly, two reserves that played well in the second half were Jarvis Varnado (second round pick) and Antywane Robinson with their energy and defensive intensity. It might be a long shot for Varnado to make the roster this year but it’s easy to see why the Heat targeted him in the second round. His shot-blocking skills weren’t displayed in this game but he had an efficient game on both ends of the floor. The question is how many forwards will the Heat need in the final roster so it may just a numbers game that may force Varnado to be on the outside looking in when final decisions are made.