As I mentioned a week ago, KZ Okpala has an opportunity to crack the rotation in his third NBA season with the Miami Heat. But from what we’ve seen last year and in the 2021 Summer League, he doesn’t appear to be ready for a rotation spot.
In the just-concluded Summer League, Okpala shot just 23.5 percent from both the field overall and 3-point range. He played well in the finale today against the Dallas Mavericks, going 3-of-4 from downtown.
KZ Okpala now with 13 points with 3-of-4 shooting on threes. Encouraging!— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) August 17, 2021
But it’s premature to extrapolate from one good outing. Does anyone remember the 2020-21 preseason finale, when Okpala hit three 3s in the first quarter and then did this?
For much of his time in games that mattered, Okpala wasn’t even an average 3-point shooter. And he appeared unsure of what to do too often. When the former Stanford wing cannot perform well against Summer League competition, it doesn’t inspire confidence that he’ll be a passable rotation player against veteran NBA players.
Omer Yurtseven, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Marcus Garrett — all of whom got the Summer League finale off — have played far better in Summer League than the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. If Garrett gets Miami’s second two-way roster spot — which should happen — he should slot ahead of Okpala in the rotation. And for the Heat to have sacrificed three second-round picks in a draft night trade for Okpala, that realization looks like a move Miami will regret.