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NBA Draft: What can the Heat’s 10 newly-signed undrafted prospects show in Summer League?

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Miami may not have had a pick last night, but they still walked away with several prospects in hand.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

As originally planned, the Miami Heat did not make a selection in Thursday night’s draft — the third time since 2016 where it didn’t formally select anyone in the two rounds.

Through Thursday evening, they did, however, significantly beef up talent on their Summer League roster with six undrafted prospects.

Per multiple reports from various sources, here’s who the six are: South Carolina’s A.J. Lawson, TCU’s RJ Nembhard, LSU’s Javonte Smart, Houston’s DeJon “Deeky” Jarreau, Mississippi State’s D.J. Stewart and Wisconsin’s Micah Potter.

They weren’t done.

In addition, they added Kansas’ Marcus Garrett — who was among my seven names to potentially monitor — along with Missouri’s Dru Smith, Arkansas’ Justin Smith and former Mississippi State guard Tyson Carter Friday — increasing the figure to 10 undrafted signees.

Let’s look into see what each newly-signed free agent could provide to Miami’s summer league roster:


AJ Lawson, South Carolina

Guard | 6-foot-7 | 180 lbs. | Junior

2020-21 stats (21 games): 16.6 PPG | 4.1 APG | 1.5 SPG | 35.1 3P% | 52.1 TS% | 17.9 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85 (subscription required): 70

USA Today’s top-100: 83

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects (out of 104) : 71

Lawson was one of two to crack my potential list of undrafted players to monitor, though he didn’t make the main-seven mentioned (like Garrett). Lawson drew consideration because of his sheer athleticism with his potential as a two-way disruptor, despite the inefficient shooting.

Lawson leaps out of the building (literally! Well, almost), registering a 41-inch vertical at the NBA G-League Combine. The second-team All-ACC honoree was a capable shooter off the catch. A slew of his attempts came on higher difficulty — hence the lower efficiency — but he won’t be asked to create as much in the Summer League. He showed defensive prowess by racking up steals with good off-ball acumen, though he has a tendency to over-gamble. Lawson’s frame is thin for his size, but his skill set should fit well within Miami’s Summer League team as a catch-and-shoot swingman with defensive capability.

“Once viewed as a ball-dominant, playmaking wing, Lawson has reinvented himself as a high-energy complementary player, earning positive reviews for his defense and activity level and looking extremely explosive in game situations,” Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo wrote about Lawson after the Scouting Combine in June. “He tested well and also put on one of the better three-point shooting displays of the week in his pro day workout, and while he shoots with a wide base that makes him more of a floor-spacer than a shot-creator, Lawson did shoot 35% from distance on eight attempts per game this season. It’s much easier to talk yourself back into him after what he showed, and he’s working himself into the 31–45 range.”

RJ Nembhard, TCU

Guard | 6-foot-5 | 200 lbs. | Senior

2020-21 stats (24 games): 15.7 PPG | 4.3 RPG | 4.0 APG | 1.1 SPG | 50.8 TS% | 15.4 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85 (subscription required): T-73

USA Today’s top-100: 87

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: 102

Nembhard showcased tons of playmaking chops, despite being a versatile combo guard. He was a good defender and rebounder for his size. Nembhard still netted 33.9 percent of his 3-point attempts and 77.8 of his charity stripe attempts with a semi-funky release.

However, he had a knack of attacking the paint — in transition, with line-drive cuts or forceful on-ball drives — that typically translated into fruitful results. If he can smooth out his shot — potentially improving overall efficiency — while maximizing his physical attributes, the combo guard could warrant a potential roster spot throughout the Association.

Javonte Smart, LSU

Guard | 6-foot-4 | 205 lbs. | Junior

2020-21 stats (28 games): 16.0 PPG | 4.0 APG | 1.3 SPG | 40.2 3P% | 58.7 TS% | 18.5 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85 (subscription required): NR

USA Today’s top-100: NR

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: 91

In my view, Smart is an intriguing two-way prospect. He shot the ball at a 40.2 percent clip from range, though he hardly got off the ground in his release. He was a crafty player, developing a nice in-between game, though he wasn’t always as athletic or twitchy to arrive at such spots on the floor.

Smart was one of LSU’s primary initiators, but diverged into more of a combo guard at times. He was an adequate finisher, shooting nearly 64 percent at the rim, per Barttorvik. As evidenced throughout the 10 players, Miami isn’t afraid to take chances on players — especially creators for a potential trial run as the backup point guard, with Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn and Gabe Vincent entering free agency (though, Vincent’s the most likely to return). He’s an unselfish player with adequate court vision — so expect him to catalyze the offense as a secondary creator this summer.

DeJon “Deeky” Jarreau, Houston

Guard | 6-foot-5 | 185 lbs. | Redshirt Senior

2020-21 stats (31 games): 10.6 PPG | 5.4 RPG | 4.3 APG | 1.3 SPG | 52.4 TS% | 19.8 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85 (subscription required): NR

USA Today’s top-100: 95

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: 95

Jarreau is a vicious defender — both on and off the ball — and was one of Houston’s best distributors last year. He was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year by making life miserable for opposing guards and wings on the perimeter.

When he was on the floor, he catapulted Houston’s energy level on both ends of the floor; he’s very tough — playing most of Houston’s Final Four run with an injured hip. Jarreau’s shooting was inconsistent throughout his collegiate career, but shot 34.4 percent from beyond the arc (on 2.9 attempts) as a senior. His free-throw efficiency, however, decreased (79.5 percent to 70.3 percent) from his junior year. He should add playmaking juice with that tough, gritty mentality that emulates the #HEATCULTURE™ mold.

D.J. Stewart, Mississippi State

Guard | 6-foot-6 | 205 lbs. | Sophomore

2020-21 stats (33 games): 16.0 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 3.1 APG | 1.4 SPG | 51.2 TS% | 16.1 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85 (subscription required): NR

USA Today’s top-100: 86

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: NR

Among the 10 Miami signed, Stewart could make the case for being the most dynamic pure scorer. His scoring wasn’t the most consistent nor efficient — typically hoisting without conscience — but the crafty lefty showcased scoring ability off the catch and off the bounce. Stewart’s true shooting percentage dipped from 54.2 percent to 51.2 percent, a byproduct of his shot volume doubling from 6.9 attempts to 13.8 per game as a sophomore.

Stewart was forced to be the Bulldogs’ offensive initiator far more as a sophomore. He won’t have to carry that burden throughout the Summer League, opening up more catch-and-shoot looks with secondary creation opportunities. Stewart was good operating off the ball; in Summer League, his off-ball prowess will affect his malleability within the Heat offense. He also has the sheer length to be a strong defender, possessing a 7-foot wing span.

Micah Potter, Wisconsin

Forward/Center | 6-foot-10 | 248 lbs. | Redshirt Senior

2020-21 stats (31 games): 12.5 PPG | 5.9 RPG | 38.6 3P% | 61.1 TS% | 28.8 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85 (subscription required): NR

USA Today’s top-100: NR

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: NR

Potter was one of two non-guards or wings that Miami nabbed from the undrafted pool. Potter is an oft-coveted stretch-big that netted a combined 40.8 percent from 3-point range (on 2.9 attempts) over his final two collegiate seasons. He was a good low post scorer and found open holes in defenses for teammates to feed him the rock near the bucket.

Despite his box score numbers, rebounding doesn’t jump off the page for his size, Potter averaged 10.7 boards per 40 minutes, crashing the glass when he wasn’t spacing the floor on the perimeter. What will hold Potter back was his defensive limitations schematically.

I am a completely different player than what I was at Wisconsin,” Potter told HoopsHype after partaking in the Tampa Bay Pro Combine, with 40 other draft hopefuls, in June. “I’m a mobile big, who has a high motor, can play inside and out and score at all three levels. I can post up. I’d say I set great screens, getting other people open whether it’d be ball screens or off-ball situations. Being able to pop or roll or make the right play; that’s something I want to do. I’m someone who plays super hard on both ends of the floor, rebounds the ball. Honestly, some of that stuff, people probably didn’t see at Wisconsin because we were a slower-paced team.”

Potter wasn’t a tremendous athlete with Wisconsin and oftentimes didn’t possess the foot speed to compete often on the perimeter defensively, so teams will likely have to employ a drop or ice coverage with him in the action.

Marcus Garrett, Kansas

Guard | 6’5” | 205 lbs. | Senior

2020-21 stats (29 games): 11.0 PPG | 4.6 RPG | 3.7 APG | 1.6 SPG | 54.8 TS% | 16.9 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85: 83

USA Today’s top-100: 76

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: 61

Garrett was Miami’s most recent addition Friday morning. He’s the only player to make Miami’s summer league roster that was in my top-7 list.

He’s a perfect fit in Miami’s system. Garrett’s a pass-first guard with outstanding defensive ability. He joins Jarreau as the second really special point-of-attack defender on Miami’s summer league roster.

The Naismith Defensive Player of the Year in 2019-20 averaged 1.6 steals per game over the last three seasons. He considerably improved his shooting since he stepped foot on Kansas, knocking 34.8 percent of his 2.3 3-point attempts per game as a senior. He also saw massive improvement in his free-throw shooting — netting 80.8 percent of his attempts after hitting them at a disappointing 57.3 percent clip over his first three seasons. His shooting is going to determine his NBA ceiling, but he can definitely carve out a role on the opposite end.

Dru Smith, Missouri

Guard | 6’3” | 200 lbs. | Senior

2020-21 stats (26 games): 14.3 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 3.8 APG | 2.1 SPG | 39.8 3P% | 57.1 TS% | 18.7 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85: NR

USA Today’s top-100: NR

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: NR

Smith was an All-SEC and an All-Defensive selection. He strong frame immediately jumps out, so he’ll like be able defend both guard spots and potentially smaller 3s throughout the summer. Smith is a good spot-up shooter with a pretty quick release despite not getting much lift off the ground. He is a fearless slasher and hit a superb 63.2 percent of his shots at the rim, per Barttorvik. He finished with up-fakes and supreme creativity, contorting his body at funky angles to get off clear shots. He will need to develop an in-between game, but already has passable two-way potential for a 6-foot-3 guard with the potential to make Miami’s roster on a two-way deal.

Justin Smith, Arkansas

Wing | 6’7” | 230 lbs. | Senior

2020-21 stats (28 games): 13.6 PPG | 7.3 RPG | 1.2 SPG | 56.7 TS% | 20.7 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85: NR

USA Today’s top-100: NR

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: NR

Smith is the most athletic player to make the squad. While he was at Indiana, Smith set the school record for highest vertical jump at 48 inches. While he was at Arkansas, he did all the dirty work, including slowing down the opposition’s best wing as well as establishing residency in the painted area to throw down thunderous slams and collect offensive glass with his skyrocketing athleticism. Smith exhibited playmaking chops, especially in transition and on the drive-and-kick, though he didn’t garner many assists throughout his collegiate career. He is a bruising post presence and utilizes a smooth jump hook. Overall, Smith’s on-court impact was profound — averaging a team-best plus-10.1 plus-minus per 40 minutes; Arkansas also went 24-4 when he played, including 15-3 in the his final 18 contests. He’s another prototypical Heat wing without shooting touch, hitting only five of his 23 total attempts (21.7 percent) from beyond the arc. Under former NBA head coach Eric Musselman, Smith was one of Arkansas’ top glue guys; expect him to create much of the same defensive-minded, gritty impact with this year’s Heat Summer League squad.

Tyson Carter, Lavrio B.C. (Greece)

College: Mississippi State (2016-20)

Wing | 6’4” | 175 lbs.

2019-20 stats (31 games): 13.9 PPG | 3.1 APG | 1.1 SPG | 54.4 TS% | 18.9 PER

The Athletic’s consensus top-85: NR

USA Today’s top-100: NR

CBS Sports’ Top Prospects: NR

Carter did not play in college last season. After spending four years at Mississippi State — including one with Stewart — Carter elected to turn pro last year. He went undrafted, playing a year overseas with G.S. Lavrio B.C., in the Greece Basket League. He averaged 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, knocking down 42.1 percent of his 3s and 52.4 percent of his 2s in 33 contests. He wasn’t as potent of an outside shooter with the Bulldogs, hitting a moderate 34.6 percent of his 4.7 3-point attempts in his four combined seasons — including 32.1 percent (on 5.4 attempts) as a senior — but knocked down 84.4 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe. The Greek club Olympiacos were in close talks with Carter in June, but nothing became official.


The Heat will be bringing back five additional players to round out its summer league roster: Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, Omer Yurtseven, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus.

The Heat’s first summer league game will be Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 8:00 p.m. EST. For the full summer league schedule, click here: