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Sport: How the Heat can fill out its training camp roster

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With the Miami Heat’s summer league stint over and done with, the focus for the team now shifts to filling out its 20-man roster in preparation for training camp. With about six weeks until training camp begins, Miami is already hard at work at filling out its roster and determining who will receive the club’s two open two-way contracts.

It should also be noted that the Heat does have an open standard spot on the roster, but filling that would take the team into the luxury tax, so that is an unlikely outcome. Let’s take a look at some of the team’s options.

Already signed: D.J. Stewart Jr. (Exhibit-10)

Miami kicked off its training camp roster by officially signing Mississippi State’s Stewart, a wing that averaged 16 points and 3.1 assists per game in his last collegiate season. Stewart had a quiet summer league stint, averaging just 3.6 points per game and shooting 37.9% from the floor. However, Stewart did show some potential as a scoring/defending wing, going for 11 points in his first game of summer league and then three steals in the next. Stewart was signed to an Exhibit-10 contract and his rights will fall with the Sioux Falls Skyforce if he is waived.

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Reported to have signed: Marcus Garrett, RJ Nembhard, Micah Potter, Javonte Smart

While none of these signings are officially confirmed unlike Stewart, there is somewhat of an expectation that some combination of these players will end up in training camp with the Heat. Garrett is an obvious choice, reportedly agreeing to an Exhibit-10 deal immediately following the draft. In five summer league games, Garrett averaged 8.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals in just 21.4 minutes per game, while shooting 65.4% from the floor and 42.9% from deep.

What immediately stands out about Garrett is the fact that he averaged an insane 2.8 steals per game, and averaged 4.3 through his first three games, when he saw more extended playing time. Per 36 minutes, Garrett averaged an insane 4.71 steals per game. To further illustrate his defensive dominance, Garrett only had 1.6 fouls per game, showing his ridiculous body control.

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Garrett is without a doubt the leader in the clubhouse for one of the two two-way deals for the team after his strong performance. It is unclear if Miami will sign him to that deal right away or whether they will field an open competition for both two-way spots.

RJ Nembhard had an up-and-down summer league, but shined when he got consistent minutes. Nembhard averaged 5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.85 minutes per game while shooting 48.1% from the floor and 28.6% from 3. The TCU product saw his best performance come in the first game of the Las Vegas Summer League, going for 18 points on 66.7% shooting in a big win. Nembhard has a lot of intrigue and is probably one of the frontrunners for a two-way deal if one of Garrett or DeJon Jarreau (another summer league favorite) forces the team’s hand for a standard deal or pursues another club.

It should be noted that the team did have something like this happen before. In 2018, the Heat tried to bring in all three of Duncan Robinson, Yante Maten and Daryl Macon from the summer league team. The Heat originally brought in Maten on an Exhibit-10, and tried to do the same with Macon, but Macon received a two-way deal from the Dallas Mavericks and departed from the team, ultimately giving Maten the final two-way spot.

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So even though Garrett and Jarreau are the likely leaders for these spots, it’s important to break down the team’s other options here.

Micah Potter is apparently a Heat favorite, verbally agreeing to an Exhibit-10 deal immediately after the draft. In six games with two starts, Potter had moments where he really shined as a potential stretch big, but also someone that had a post game. Potter averaged 7.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 stocks per game with the Heat, and shot 55.9% from the floor. Though his deep-ball shooting percentage didn’t stand out in summer league, he shot 38.6% from deep on 3.3 attempts per game. According to 5ReasonSports’ Greg Sylvander, Potter is a dark-horse candidate for one of the team’s two-way deals. If he ultimately fails to receive one, he may depart for another club.

Javonte Smart is the most interesting name here in that he entered summer league with a strong chance at a two-way spot, but is now in jeopardy of not even following through on his reported agreement for an Exhibit-10 deal. Smart was an exciting addition to the summer roster after averaging 16 points on 46/40.2/85.7 shooting splits at LSU, but that shooting did not translate. Smart only averaged 5.5 points in 21.2 minutes per game and shot 23.1% from the field and 21.7% from 3. He took 52 total shots and 23 3s.

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If Smart is announced by the team, he will almost certainly end up in Sioux Falls until he can earn some consistency. He is a G League prospect to watch due to his scoring chops, but also because he is a better playmaker than advertised in college.

It should be noted that A.J. Lawson out of South Carolina originally agreed to a deal with the team but departed for the Atlanta Hawks, so it is unlikely that that will actually come to fruition.

Likely to sign with the team: DeJon Jarreau

As mentioned earlier, Jarreau is the Heat’s other primary option for a two-way contract. He’s a 6-foot-5 point guard that was a near-triple-double machine in summer league, and was the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, similar to how Garrett was the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Because the team doesn’t want to dip into the luxury tax, and Garrett and Jarreau are both fairly old, these players will both have a prime opportunity to see some serious playing time on two-way deals. The only true point guards on the roster are Kyle Lowry and Gabe Vincent.

In five summer league games, Jarreau averaged 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 47.7% from the floor and 36.4% from beyond the arc.

Jarreau should be on a two-way deal without a doubt, but as mentioned earlier, it isn’t guaranteed until the pen is put to paper. Even if both Garrett and Jarreau are officially announced, there is still a need for the rest of the summer roster to be filled out.

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Outside looking in: Dru Smith, Justin Smith, Brandon McCoy, Tyson Carter

Of these four, Dru Smith showed that he should at least be invited to the team’s summer roster. He and Carter both showed more on the court than either Stewart or Smart, so they could end up getting signed later in the process. For instance, in the 2018-19 offseason, the Heat signed Marcus Lee and Malik Newman to the summer roster. On Oct. 6, the team waived both players and signed Charles Cooke and DeAndre Liggins. Then on Oct. 11, the team waived both of those players and signed Rodney Purvis and Raphiael Putney, before waiving those players two days later.

In short, that headache and roster shuffling was because the team wanted to fill out its G League roster, a commonality among NBA teams. So if the Heat wants its entire summer roster on the Skyforce, it can go about that approach even if they can’t fit all players on at once.

Going back to Dru Smith, the guard averaged eight points on 46.7% shooting in six games and three starts. He showed a lot of competence in the guard role and really shined in the games he started. Tyson Carter also flashed in the guard role, averaging six points and 3.2 assists per game. Justin Smith showed some nice athleticism and started twice despite very limited playing time, and McCoy is a former five-star prospect that put up a lot of points and boards in limited minutes.

Other options

Of course, the Heat doesn’t only have to sign players from its summer roster. As seen with Macon and Dallas in 2018, players can be poached by other clubs if they so choose. Antonio Blakeney, LiAngelo Ball, Rayjon Tucker, Louis King, Hassani Gravett, Jaylen Morris, Emanuel Terry, Steven Enoch, Robert Franks, Trevelin Queen, Devontae Cacok and Matt Morgan are among the unsigned prospects that could intrigue the Heat.

Isaiah Miller, Matt Coleman III, JaQuori McLaughlin, Carlik Jones, Yves Pons, Mac McClung, Chaundee Brown, M.J. Walker, Aamir Simms and Ibi Watson have all agreed to Exhibit-10 deals elsewhere, but could also be options if they were offered a two-way deal by Miami.

Those are all more unlikely than players from Miami’s summer roster, but they are still options.

In all, the most likely 20-man training camp roster for Miami is as follows:

Point guards - Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, Marcus Garrett (two-way), DeJon Jarreau (two-way), Javonte Smart (Exhibit-10)

Shooting guards - Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, D.J. Stewart Jr. (Exhibit-10), RJ Nembhard (Exhibit-10)

Small forwards - Jimmy Butler, Max Strus, KZ Okpala

Power forwards - P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, Udonis Haslem, Micah Potter (Exhibit-10)

Centers - Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, Omer Yurtseven

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