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Can Darius Days turn into Miami’s newest two-way gem?

Don’t be surprised.

2022 NBA Summer League - Houston Rockets v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

On the morning of their final Las Vegas Summer League game, the Miami Heat completely reconfigured their two-way roster spots.

They dumped their then-two way players — Mychal Mulder and Javonte Smart, who both struggled in Summer League — for guard Marcus Garrett and one other intriguing name not from their organization.

The other was Darius Days, an undrafted rookie forward who they poached from the San Antonio Spurs organization.

Miami’s had outstanding success finding and developing two-way talent over the last few seasons — at least at the success rate that’s exceeded general expectations. The most-recent example was Caleb Martin, who re-signed with Miami for a three-year deal worth nearly $21 million this offseason.

Others include current Heat rosterees in Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent; Garrett has intriguing hallmarks to his game as well — most notably his point-of-attack defense — that could eventually propel him into that category as well.

Could Days, a 6-foot-7 two-way forward — both contractually and literally — be their latest unearthed gem?

He certainly has the profile.

Days averaged 13.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, shooting 43.4 percent from the floor, 35.0 percent from 3-point range and 70.0 percent from the free-throw line his senior season. Throughout his career at LSU, he tallied 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals on 47.4/35.3/73.4 shooting splits (58.6 true-shooting percentages).

In a pre-draft interview, when Days was asked who he most resembled out of college, Days said P.J. Tucker. Sound familiar, eh?

“I feel like we kind of have the same build,” Days said. “Shoot the corner 3-ball, guard multiple guys and just be versatile on the floor.”

While it’s unfair and disingenuous to put immediate and conclusive NBA player comparisons for players who have yet to begin their career, both have a few similar traits to their game.

Both are outstanding offensive rebounders, very capable on-ball defenders — Tucker was one of Miami’s best a year ago — and both can space the floor from the corner. Days’ main separator is his ability to spread the floor from above the break, but I digress.

In a vacuum, when he’s on the floor, Days addresses a Heat need in that department. Even though they were efficient — knocking them down at a 37.2 percent clip, the second-best in the Association — the Heat took the 11th-fewest non-corner 3-pointers a year ago, per Cleaning The Glass.

Days, on the other hand, took nearly 50 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and knocked them down at a 34.8 percent clip, per CBB Analytics.

Here are hit shot charts from the 2021-22 season:

Darius Days’ 2021-22 FGA%.
CBB Analytics
Darius Days’ 2021-22 FG%.
CBB Analytics

All that said, it’s going to take some time to develop him, like it is for all rookies.

Given the Heat’s track record of finding-and-nailing undrafted talent combined with Days’ LSU film — it makes for a very intriguing collaboration. Though it’s not very realistic to expect a Caleb Martin-like impact; Martin was perhaps the best player to ever play on a two-way contract, averaging 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals on 50.6/37.9/73.9 shooting splits up until his two-way was converted to a standard contract in mid-February, making him eligible for the playoffs.

Even looking at other recent examples — say, Strus and Vincent — neither eclipsed 13 minutes per game in their rookie seasons while Duncan Robinson averaged just 10.7 minutes in 2018-19. Martin averaged roughly 23 minutes, but 1.) received ample opportunity (at the beginning) in part due to injuries and a revolving door of COVID cases and 2.) was a third-year talent that averaged 16 minutes over his first two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.

But Days fits the profile of a 3-and-D forward at the next level — though it’s feasible to suggest Miami develops him into something more than that. He’s a gritty, physical player with a high motor that possesses the requisite traits of a #HEATCulture™ talent.

Two-way players are now offered more time at the NBA level — being able to play maximum of 50 regular season games instead of just 45 days — so there will be opportunity to thrive if he’s with the NBA squad. Miami also has a glaring need at the 4, and as the offseason progresses, it feels more like it will be addressed at the trade deadline. But nevertheless, there’s room for opportunity — so don’t be surprised if Days contributes in a minimal role or develops into a player who eventually does with the tools he already has.

What do you think? Comment below!