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Miami Heat Summer League: Takeaways from Game 1 against Lakers

A Summer League game was played. That’s for certain.

NBA: California Classic-Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat opened Summer League action in San Francisco, Calif., in the California Classic Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat lost 100-66 — here are a few immediate takeaways from their performance:


1. The Heat looked stymied offensively:

There’s no reason to flip out. This is the Summer League.

But Miami struggled significantly fashioning any semblance of shot creation in its 34-point loss (sound familiar?). It shot 9-for-44 (a ghastly 20.5 percent) in the first half and 28.0 percent overall. Miami netted just nine triples on 30 attempts (30.0 percent) and only got to the line 19 times, converting on 11 such attempts — a 57.9 percent.

Its starting backcourt — Mychal Mulder and Javonte Smart, its pair of two-way talents — combined to shoot 7-for-30. Both started off well but did not generate much success thereafter, getting hounded and flustered at the point-of-attack from Los Angeles’ backcourt as well as failing to knock down open shots.

The Heat had 11 turnovers — eight live-ball turnovers — that led to 12 Lakers points; Miami also fashioned just 22 paint points. Nevertheless, it’s just Summer League — and the first game at that — but it was not an encouraging performance from Miami offensively.

2. Miami’s top standout: Haywood Highsmith, by far.

Let’s quickly transition to the positives (there weren’t many, but that’s okay at this time of year!): Highsmith was the Heat’s best player today, and it wasn’t very close.

On the defensive end, he was tenacious at the point-of-attack; offensively, he wasn’t trying to do too much and stayed within his role. He created with the rock in his hands, but also spaced the floor and knocked down a few spot-up attempts. Highsmith also crashed the glass (five offensive rebounds), rewarding Miami a few extra possessions even with the sputtering results collectively.

In total, the 25-year-old finished with 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. He also had eight rebounds, one assist and a pair of steals. Though the stat line may not indicate it, Highsmith was preemptively tabbed as the Heat’s latest breakout gem and certainly looked the part Saturday.

Second on my list? Probably Jamal Cain, who looked very fluid with his movements and was quite active defensively. He finished with eight points, five rebounds, three assists and a team-high three steals in 18 minutes. Kyle Allman Jr. impressed as a lead guard. Allman Jr., the team’s final SL roster add, had 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting with three 3s., in addition to four rebounds, five assists and one steal.

3. Miami got Jay Huff’d:

Without Omer Yurtseven, Lakers center Jay Huff was easily the most dominant in the big man on the floor today. It was ruled prior to the weekend that Yurtseven would not play in the California Classic, though I’m not sure how much his presence would’ve helped with how impactful Huff was on both ends.

In 21 minutes, the former Virginia center tallied nine points (4-7 FG), seven rebounds and two blocks. The big man detracted every shot he encountered, flustering the Heat’s interior presences — prompting undisciplined and flustered attempts within the painted area.

In 28 games with the South Bay Lakers last season, he averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, shooting 63.9 percent from the floor and 81.4 percent from beyond the arc. He certainly played like he could earn a spot on the roster.

Other Laker standouts: Mac McClung (17 PTS, 5-9 FG), Paris Bass (15 PTS, 6 REB, 5-11 FG), Vitto Brown (11 PTSS, 5-6 FG), Cole Swider (discussed below), etc.

4. Both teams’ draft picks had rough debuts.

Not that it means a whole lot, because it doesn’t, but both the Heat’s and Lakers’ lone draft picks struggled in their Summer League debuts.

Nikola Jovic was drafted No. 27 overall by the Heat while Max Christie was drafted No. 35 overall after Los Angeles traded into the draft hours before it began. Both didn’t have outstanding inaugural outings. Jovic tallied three points on six shots with three rebounds; Christie had five points on 11 attempts, adding nine boards, three assists and a steal. All five of his points came in the final frame from a spot-up 3 and putback layup.

Jovic didn’t can his first-and-only shot until 4:05 left in the third quarter and had a few lapses defensively with his discipline, but flashed some good playmaking with the few touches he had. Lakers wing Cole Swider, who inked to a two-way contract after last week’s draft, tallied 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Neither draft pick should anyone ride their one-game sample home. But I thought this was noteworthy to add because I’m sure fans from other organziations were curious to see how they did.