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Miami Heat 2020-21 player review: Nemanja Bjelica

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The sharpshooting Serbian had few chances to make a good impression on the Heat coaches after the trade deadline.

NBA: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year: Reviewing the previous season!

It’s now officially the offseason for the Miami Heat, who were swept out of the first round in the NBA playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks — losing their four games by a combined 82 points.

Before we deep dive into everything regarding the future months for this team, let’s discuss the seasons for Heat players that played in the 2020-21 NBA season and finished on the active roster.

In our fourth player review — conducted in alphabetical order — we will be reviewing stretch forward Nemanja Bjelica. Here are the ones we have done so far.

Let’s get into it!


Brief Overview:

2020-21 Heat stats (11 games):

  • 5.0 PPG
  • 2.5 RPG
  • 43.5 field goal percentage
  • 13.3 player efficiency rating
  • Several MVP chants in Game 3 against Milwaukee

A year removed from career highs in scoring (11.5 ppg), rebounding (6.8 rpg), PER (15.7) and true shooting percentage (.602), Bjelica was limited to just 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 37 games this year. Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reported on Feb. 13 that the Heat were showing interest in Bjelica. Just hours before the end of the March 25 trade deadline, he was acquired from the Sacramento Kings for Moe Harkless and Chris Silva. His rotation stint was short-lived, but he started in the team’s final two regular season games due to the absence of Bam Adebayo.


Numbers to Note:

37.0 - Bjelica fit the similar mold to former Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, who was dealt along with Avery Bradley and a 2022 first-round pick swap for Victor Oladipo. Both were near 7-foot floor spacers with minimal playmaking and rebounding chops. Throughout his 11 games with the Heat, Bjelica attempted 27 3-pointers, knocking down 10 of them — equating to a 37.0 3-point percentage.

He wasn’t actively involved in the offense when he was on the floor, but when he was — he wasn’t afraid to let it fly. Here is a compilation of his 10 made 3s with Miami:


Best game?

May 16 vs. Detroit Pistons

Bjelica’s last game of the regular season was probably his best one. The 6-foot-10 forward tallied a Heat career-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Bjelica added six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.

The MVP chants reigned on him from the Heat crowd during Game 3. He made the most of his 18 minutes, tallying 14 points on six shots!

(Was Bjelica shooting from Stephen Curry range, or has it been Curry shooting from Bjelica range all along? Makes you think...)


What’s next?

Bjelica enters unrestricted free agency after his three-year, $20M contract comes to an end. He will have his Bird Rights, so the Heat could still re-sign him if they’re past the salary cap if they choose to do so.

Due to injuries and an inconsistent role, Bjelica played under 60 games for the first time in his career — appearing in just 37. He will compete in the Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers for Serbia, so a positive stint could potentially lead Miami to bringing him back on a team-friendly contract as a role player.

Miami’s offseason moves to address the 4-spot will also determine Bjelica’s future with the organization. But Bjelica could stretch the floor while providing a rebounding presence, though he likely isn’t among the organization’s Plan A.