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Summer league offers intriguing possibilities for Heat

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Okaro White expanded his game over the summer.

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Miami Heat’s main takeaway from the summer league is the impressive play of Bam Adebayo. Although some criticized Miami using a lottery pick on a big man when the Heat already have Hassan Whiteside, Adebayo has shown athleticism and a soft touch that could lead him to play more than 15 minutes a night.

That’s not the only thing the Heat learned.

For one, forward Okaro White developed his ball-handling skills. White joined the Heat on a 10-day contract at the start of their season turnaround last year before signing for the rest of the year. He was the only Miami summer league player who had Heat experience.

If you read my recaps back then, you know I’m a big White fan. I actually thought that he should’ve gotten all of Luke Babbitt’s minutes as the younger and more complete player. But the knock on White among Heat diehard fans was that his ball-handling skills were limited. He could make a jumper or a nice cut to the basket, but he turned the ball if he tried to do too much offensively.

But in the summer league he dribbled through traffic and made split-second decisions, modeling his game after James Johnson. It remains to be seen whether White can replicate his diversified skill set at the NBA level, but White could become another developmental league prospect who emerges as a quality role player, like Tyler Johnson.

The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson also said that Pat Riley is “intrigued and wants to take a long look” at backup center A.J. Hammonds, whom the Heat received in the Josh McRoberts trade and then played in the Heat’s Vegas Summer League. Whiteside, Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk should get the bulk of the playing time at center, but having a 7-footer who can shoot should come in handy in case someone gets injured.

Beyond that, 5-foot-8 guard Justin Robinson made highlights, including a game-winning layup against the Washington Wizards and a 22-point outing against the Los Angeles Clippers last week.

Starting this season, teams will be able to add two roster spots for players on “two-way contracts.” These players can spend up to 45 days with the NBA team and the rest of the time in the G-League. With the Heat’s success finding players from the developmental league — Okaro White, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder — don’t be surprised to see Robinson take one of those spots.