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Making the case: Marcus Garrett earning a two-way spot for Heat

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Garrett has proven he deserves one of the Heat’s two-way contracts.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Denver Nuggets v Miami Heat Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re now six games in.

No no, not six games into the NBA regular season, but six into the Summer League — the lightest — yet intriguing — competition barometer for the NBA season.

Omer Yurtseven, who signed a two-year standard minimum contract last week, has arguably been Miami’s biggest standout in his first three Summer League affairs.

The 7-footer’s averaged 22.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 50.6 percent shooting and 36.4 percent from 3-point range in his five contests.

Max Strus, who also signed a two-year standard deal on the first day of free agency, has made a compelling argument for rotation minutes, averaging 20.0 points on 41.1 percent shooting from deep in five games. He recorded 32 points on seven 3-pointers, including the game-winner from distance in the double-overtime 97-94 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

But one Heat player going under the radar — amongst the national spectrum at least — in Summer League has been Marcus Garrett.

He was the only current Heat Summer League prospect to crack our “Seven draft prospects to monitor if they go undrafted” list. Here’s what I wrote about Garrett at the time:

Garrett is a pass-first guard with twitchy and instinctive defensive ability. He’s long been one of the best point-of-attack defenders in the nation. 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 from his freshman year, 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. Was his senior year a shooting aberration? The Heat, as well as the rest of the Association, will continue to ask themselves that throughout Garrett’s evaluation process, which will likely determine his NBA ceiling.

In his first four games, Garrett posted averages of 11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 0.8 blocks, shooting 65.4 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from deep (on 7 attempts).

In Friday’s loss, he had just one steal in seven first-quarter minutes. He did not the play the remainder of the game due to an illness. He did not play in Saturday’s game, either.

Garrett’s most notable trait is getting into his opponent’s jersey with his ruthless on-ball defense; he’ll pick up full-court, slither over on-ball screens and routinely pick the ball handler’s pocket with his quick hands, as evidenced by Miami’s first defensive possession of the Las Vegas Summer League:

After Nuggets' guard Caleb Agada — who played for team Nigeria in the Tokyo Olympics — got stripped six seconds into the game, Garrett euro-steps his way to a tough transition lay-in.

In the California Classic alone, Garrett snatched ten combined steals. He’s elite at dislodging the ball from ballhandlers.

But in fairness, it’s hard to rely on gambling for such steal attempts, especially at the next level against initiators with tighter, cleaner handle. Though Garrett is typically excellent at poking the ball away from opponents, it doesn’t — and won’t — always generate a successful outcome, as seen above.

Garrett’s most underwhelming trait out of college was his shot-making, though he has shown some flashes in Vegas:

As I previously highlighted, Garrett was much better as a senior than his previous three collegiate seasons. In general, however, the formula for Garrett’s success offensively is putting the ball in his hands. Usually it results in him finishing through contact against bigger defenders, a drive-and-dish or converting on an occasional spot-up look from an extra pass.

The first clip above begins with a ridiculous block after stunting from the corner just seconds prior. He fills the furthest channel on the left side of the floor and sets foot in the corner. Strus receives the ball on the wing and rifles it to Garrett for the wide-open spot-up conversion.

In the second clip, he receives another swing pass from Strus. Garrett takes a hard dribble left before stopping on a dime, creating space for a smooth step back jumper. The final clip showcases Jarreau slinging a one-handed cross-court pass to Garrett for his second — and final — wide open corner 3-pointer of the game.

When he gets two feet in the paint — oftentimes resulting in a successful possession — Garrett can shield his defender to generate more plausible finishing angles through contact:

Garrett has also excelled at navigating his way to the painted area off the dribble:

Though his offensive game isn’t perfect, Garrett isn’t a one-trick pony; his defensive instincts and acumen alone will likely have him out there to defend, but Garrett can provide slashing and ball-handling prowess to be at least playable offensively.

His ongoing development in the aforementioned areas — along with his shooting, a work in progress — will heighten his NBA ceiling.

With Udonis Haslem re-signing Wednesday, the Heat now have 14 active players on its current roster. Here is a tentative depth chart:

Tentative 2021-22 Miami Heat depth chart

Positons: Starters 2nd string 3rd string
Positons: Starters 2nd string 3rd string
PG: Kyle Lowry Gabe Vincent
SG: Jimmy Butler Tyler Herro Victor Oladipo (injured)
SF: Duncan Robinson Max Strus KZ Okpala
PF: P.J. Tucker Markieff Morris Udonis Haslem
C: Bam Adebayo Dewayne Dedmon Omer Yurtseven

Due to the fear of triggering the repeater tax, Miami might not fill out its 15th and final roster spot. The Heat currently have 11 rotation players — excluding Okpala, Haslem and Oladipo, who might not be back until January.

Garrett makes it 12.

Given that two-way players can now play a maximum of 50 games — which is what Vincent did last season — Garrett will be on the roster for a majority of the season. The only caveat is that he won’t be eligible to play in potential playoff games unless his contract is converted to a standard contract — something Miami can do with the extra roster spot, predicating that it’s still open.

There will be very few times where Lowry, Butler and Adebayo will on be on the bench at one time. That said — aside from what Herro and Vincent could provide, the Heat still need added rim pressure off the bench.

Garrett provides that, and then some! He exemplifies the gritty, tough presence that Lowry, Butler, Adebayo, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon provide whenever they step foot onto the hardwood.

Among any of the Heat’s Summer League players not on contract for the 2021-22 season, Garrett has stood out the most. They should take a chance on him, before any of the other 29 teams do.

If you want to see more of Matt’s Heat takes and more incessant sports-centric tweets, follow him on Twitter @mph_824.