Even with Jimmy Butler, Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic staying behind in Miami, along with James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk, the Heat showed off some of their depth on the second night of a back-to-back set while getting an extended look at some of the prospects fighting for a two-way contract. With so many veterans out, the starting lineup featured a rookie, two players who played primarily in the G-League last season, a summer trade acquisition and a new starting center.
Dion Waiters was outstanding tonight off the bench, scoring all 19 of his points (3-4 from deep) in the first half in an encouraging performance that could bode well for the Heat this season. He was precise with his outside shot but he really looked like the Dion of old with his dribble drive penetration using his quickness and his strength to either get an effective shot off or find a teammate.
Also impressive was Kendrick Nunn, showing a little bit of everything, and it’s going to be hard for Erik Spoelstra to justify not playing him more and more as the season progresses. Tyler Herro nailed a 3-pointer seconds into the game and soon followed that with three free throws but wouldn’t score again until the final seconds of the third quarter after a nifty steal off a lazy inbound pass to close out his night. Nevertheless, the rookie continued to make winning plays when he was on the floor.
With the game long ago decided (and besides it’s preseason so the score is obviously secondary) the Heat coaching staff was able to empty the bench to start the fourth quarter and take a good look at the younger players. KZ Okpala didn’t enter the game until the second half and still looks timid at times, while Davon Reed enjoyed a solid night with 14 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes.
Miami next will host the Atlanta Hawks on October 14th at 7:30pm.