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Newly-signed Aric Holman’s skill set could help depleted Heat

Holman can be a stretch-big while flashing good shot-blocking, cutting and vertical spacing ability.

Memphis Hustle v Austin Spurs Photo by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images

Amid the flurry of injuries and players entering the COVID-19 protocols, the Miami Heat inked Aric Holman to a 10-day hardship deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday.

Holman’s acquisition would be the Heat’s third 10-day hardship used across the last eight days and the second in the last 12 hours, when it signed former Sacramento Kings guard Kyle Guy.

Miami’s currently in the same boat as much of the league — probing the G-League or the free-agent market to find any semblence of talent to add amid the COVID-19 crisis the NBA’s currently in.

The Heat have six players — Kyle Lowry, Udonis Haslem, Max Strus, Zylan Cheatham, Gabe Vincent and P.J. Tucker — in the COVID protocols along with five players that remain injured in Jimmy Butler (ankle), Bam Adebayo (torn UCL in thumb), Victor Oladipo (knee surgery recovery), KZ Okpala (wrist) and Markieff Morris (neck/whiplash), who’s missed the last 25 games.

(Those 10 aforementioned players make up a pretty darn good team, huh? Makes you wonder how it stacks up among other team’s injured/protocol players.)

With Omer Yurtseven becoming Miami’s only available frontcourt player, the Heat desperately need size. Holman, listed at 6-foot-10, provides that.

Holman’s the third player it’s poached from the G-League, and likely won’t be the last. In 14 games (4 starts) with the Austin Spurs — the G-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs — Holman’s posted averages of 7.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks in 20.4 minutes per game. He’s shot 46.3 percent from the floor, including 59.2 percent on 2s and 32.6 percent from 3-point range on a mere 3.3 attempts per game; he had a 54.3 true-shooting percentage with a 14.8 player efficiency rating (PER).

Holman, who went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, spent time with the Los Angeles Lakers Summer League team before joining Texas Legends — G-League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks — for the 2019-20 season. In 40 games (2 starts), he tallied 9.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. He shot 46.2 percent with a 34.4 3-point percentage and 66.7 percent from the charity stripe (57.6 TS%), sporting an 18.1 PER.

He did not play in the G-League in 2020-21 due to the limited amount of G-League teams that actually had seasons, instead signing with ratiopharm ULM of the German Basketball Bundesliga league. In 10 games, he added 6.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 21.1 minutes per game — knocking down 41.4 percent of his shots and 37.5 percent of his 3-point attempts.

He has yet to make his NBA regular season debut.

Similarly to how I expected Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to use Cheatham, I expect Holman to be used more in the P.J. Tucker role: A primary hand-off initator and rolling threat instead of getting stashed in the corner for most of the offensive possessions. While he’s showcased flashes as a stretch-big. Holman’s a lob threat and a good cutter — which pairs well with both Butler and Herro’s playmaking abilities. Holman could capitalize on their mastery of bending defenses — whether around the arc or above the rim.

While they rank as the seventh-best team defensively, the Heat have been the worst shot-blocking team this season season, rejecting a league-worst 3.1 shots per game while sporting a bottom-third field goal percentage allowed at the rim (65.6 percent; 22nd), per Cleaning the Glass.

They have been better in the latter in Adebayo’s absence (62.6 percent; 7th) since they’ve transitioned to utilizing far more drop coverage in the pick-and-roll with Dedmon, Haslem and Yurtseven — as opposed to their switch-heavy coverage with their defensve stalwart. Holman adds to the rim protection department alongside Yurtseven with Haslem, Okpala, Adebayo and Dedmon out.

If he can make the drive to San Antonio, where Miami begins its seven-game mostly-on-the-west-coast road trip, it will have seven active players — joining Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, Marcus Garrett, Guy and Yurtseven. That’s one short of the league-minimum eight players that are required to be active. In short, the game’s in jeopordy — so it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s called off.

Assuming the Spurs game gets played, here’s an outline of the seven-game trip:

With Butler’s injury, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Heat braintrust adds a fourth or potentially fifth 10-day hardship player since I presume the Heat won’t rush Butler back quickly since he’s dealt with ankle injuries in the past.

This road trip is not going to be easy, given all the absences. Seven-game road trips across the country are never easy, but the whirling entropy piled on top makes it that much tougher. Miami went 2-3 on their previous west coast trip with losses to the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Clippers. It’s currently 4-4 on the road against Western Conference foes this year and have not finished above .500 in such games since 2018-19.

The revolving door of active-inactives continue. As I mentioned with the Kyle Guy acquisition, I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. More Heat players will, like Morris. But conversely, others will be sent into the protocols. It’s an unfortunate reality — but a reality nonetheless. The Heat need bodies and Guy, Holman will certainly get their opportunity out of necessity.

Who else should the Heat add? Comment below:

Here’s more Aric Holman highlights:

If you want to see more of Matt’s Heat takes and more incessant sports-centric tweets, follow him on Twitter @mph_824_.