With the free agency departure of PJ Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat once again now have a hole at the power forward position. This isn’t something us fans aren’t used to, as it has been a revolving door for years with Bam Adebayo’s front court partner. Although there’s still a little bit of time to make a last minute pick-up or trade to beef up that big man rotation, it looks like Miami will be looking for in-house solutions to that hole in the starting line-up.
As currently constructed, there’s actually a lot more options than people think. Coach Erik Spoelstra has always been a fan of small ball line ups, and I don’t see this season being any different. Know that a big factor in an important decision like this could be determined by training camp performances.
As for now though, Haywood Highsmith is a young and respectable defender that can slide into the gap. He actually stated that he sees a lot of the same abilities in himself as that of PJ Tucker. Nikola Jovic is another younger option that could be interesting… at 6’10 he is very mobile. A player that can shoot the three, dribble, pass, rebound and switch onto other defenders.
If Spo wants to go even smaller, sliding Jimmy Butler to the PF while starting players like Max Strus and Tyler Herro could be possible. Even going big with Omer Yurtseven and moving Bam to the PF is an option. We all know what Yurt was able to do when given the opportunity last year.
Omer Yurtseven has averaged 9.8 PPG, 11.7 RPG since getting a permanent rotation spot on the Heat roster. 4 straight double-doubles. The Heat are 7-3 in that span.— Dmitry Planidin (@DmitryPlanidin) January 3, 2022
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With all this in mind, there’s one option that seems way more likely than any of these; Caleb Martin. On July 6, Miami agreed to terms to bring back the young forward. He was able to convert a two-way contract into a three-year $20.4 million deal after earning his way into the Miami rotation last season. He is a player that grinds and puts in lots of energy and effort on both ends of the court. Martin was able to average 9 points, 3 rebounds, and an assist while shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc in his first season in South Beach.
If you use those stats per 36 minutes of playing time, Martin averages 14.5 points per game compared to Tucker’s 9.8 per 36 minutes last season. Martin stands at 6’5 but with a 6’10 wingspan and lots of athleticism and hop to his game. I’m sure he’s worked on bulking up a bit more in the off-season to prepare to get some more rebounds. He brings a lot of versatility and was seen as a “Swiss army knife” last season to coach Spoelstra.
In regards to his expected opportunity this year Martin has stated, “I feel like I can step in and start. It doesn’t matter what the role is and what a team needs from me, I feel like I can fill that void. My game expanded shooting-wise, being more efficient and consistent… I feel like I took big steps and I feel like I’m only going to take larger steps forward.”
Martin proved an ability to be very productive both as a defensive and offensive player last season. If he were to get starting minutes, he could be impressive. A perfect Heat culture player who has and will continue to develop. As the roster currently constructed, he seems to be Miami’s best bet at replicating what Tucker was able to bring.