Miami Heat: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines
After drafting just one player in the 2012 NBA draft—LSU center Justin Hamilton (No. 45 overall)—the Miami Heat don't have a lot of excitement rolling into this year's summer league, but that doesn't mean it's not an important time for the 2012 NBA Champions.
The Heat desperately need to add young talent that can add production off the bench on their roster, and the summer league is a great time for the Heat to evaluate the talent they currently have.
From rookies like Justin Hamilton and J'Covan Brown to legitimate players who took their talents overseas last year like Robert Dozier and Dwight Hardy, the Heat have some talented players to evaluate over the next few weeks.
Ahead is a breakdown of the Heat's summer league lineup and the key storylines to keep your eyes on.
Miami Heat's Summer League Schedule
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Sunday, July 15 at 3:30 PM: Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors
Monday, July 16 at 5:30 PM: Miami Heat vs. L.A. Lakers
Wednesday, July 18 at 7:30 PM: Miami Heat vs. Golden State Warriors
Friday, July 20 at 5:00 PM: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Saturday, July 21 at 1:00 PM: Miami Heat vs. Portland Trail Blazers
J'Covan Brown, PG, Texas (Undrafted Free Agent)
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Player Profile: 6'1'', 197 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 20.1 points, 3.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 41.7 FG%, 36.9 3P%, 86.3 FT%
Key Storyline: J'Covan Brown was a very productive player during his three years at Texas, and he's certainly capable of being a productive second-unit point guard in the NBA.
The biggest hurdle for Brown during the summer league will be transitioning to becoming a purer point guard and less of a scorer, as he just doesn't have the size it takes to be a shooting guard in the NBA.
Brown will also have to beat out Norris Cole on the Heat's depth chart, which is going to be very difficult to do. The odds are stacked against Brown, but he'll certainly be ready to fight for a spot on the Heat's roster.
Prediction: Brown will be playing in Europe during the 2012-'13 season.
Dwight Hardy, SG, Pistoia Italy (1-Year Experience)
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Player Profile: 6'2'', 196 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats (Italy): 22.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 52.3 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 78.9 FT%
Key Storyline: In 41 games last year in Italy, Dwight Hardy put up impressive production that made him one of the best players on the Giorgio Tesi Pistoia team.
Hardy is an athletic shooting guard, with an impressive toughness and strength to his game. The Heat could certainly use a player with Hardy's talents on their roster. The only problem is, they don't really have a spot for him.
Hardy could definitely be offered a contract at the end of the summer league, but he'll most likely decline because won't be able to get near the minutes with the Heat that he was getting in Italy. If the Heat fail to sign Hardy, other teams looking for a productive shooting guard should definitely take a look at Hardy.
Prediction: Hardy will take his talents back overseas, because of the Heat's depth at the shooting guard position.
Norris Cole, PG, Miami Heat (1 Year Experience)
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Player Profile: 6'2'', 175 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 6.8 points, 2.0 assists, 1.4 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 39.3 FG%, 27.6 3P%, 77.6 FT%
Key Storyline: Norris Cole started off the 2011-'12 season with the Heat with a bang. He stepped right in and brought immediate production off the bench, which wasn't expected from the rookie point guard out of Cleveland State
Cole quickly cooled off, and while he had a number of games where he produced at a decent level, he had more games where he struggled with efficiency on the offensive side of the ball.
The Heat will be looking for Cole to display leadership with the younger players, while also increasing the efficiency that he brings to the court on both sides of the ball. Cole's not going to lose his job in Miami, but if he fails to perform during the summer league he could find himself in a precarious situation heading into the 2012-'13 season.
Prediction: Cole will be riding the pine for the Heat at the start of the 2012-'13 season.
Terrel Harris, SG, Miami Heat (1 Year Experience)
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Player Profile: 6'4'', 190 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 34.9 FG%, 20.5 3P%, 66.7 FT%
Key Storyline: With the Heat this past season, Harris averaged 14.5 minutes in just 22 games. That's not a lot of time to evaluate his true potential and that's why this summer league will be very important for Harris.
The highlight of Harris' season last year was his 10-point performance in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. With players like Dwight Hardy competing for a roster spot with Harris, there will be a lot of pressure on him to perform.
If Harris fails to rise to the top of the Heat's summer league roster, there's no doubt that the Heat will waive him before the season starts to save money, and that's exactly what I see happening.
Prediction: Harris will be waived before the 2012-'13 season starts.
Jarvis Varnado, F/C, Carmatic Pistoia Italy (1-Year Experience)
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Player Profile: 6'9'', 220 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats (Europe): 9.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 57.6 FG%, 53.1 FT%
Key Storyline: In a total of 32 games last year in Europe, Jarvis Varnado put up decent production. The Heat could certainly utilize his defensive talents coming off the bench, but there might not be a spot for him.
The Heat are looking to get more experienced and more effective in their second unit, and Varnado most likely isn't the player who can do that.
Varnado will have to put on quite a performance in the summer league to get the Heat to offer him a contract for the 2012-'13 season. If Varnado has improved his offensive efficiency and mid-range game, it could happen, but I don't see that happening.
Interesting fact about Varnado—He was the SEC single-season leader in blocks until Anthony Davis came along, with 170 blocks during the 2008-'09 season.
Prediction: Varnado will be returning to Europe to play his professional ball next season.
Robert Dozier, PF, Cholet France (1-Year Experience)
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Player Profile: 6'9'', 224 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats (France): 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 56.5 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 72.1 FT%
Key Storyline: Last year in France, Robert Dozier found efficiency in his game, which was something he lacked during his years at Memphis.
Dozier is a freakishly-athletic forward who can run out on the wing or bang down in the paint, and the Heat can certainly use a player like him on their roster.
The biggest question during the summer league for Dozier will be if the talent he's played against overseas will have helped him develop into a more physical player. If it has, Dozier could find himself on the bench this season for the Heat.
Prediction: Dozier will be buried on the Heat's bench to start the 2012-'13 season.
Justin Hamilton, C, LSU (2012 No. 45 Overall Pick)
Player Profile: 7'0'', 260 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 49.4 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 78.1 FT%
Key Storyline: There's no doubt that Justin Hamilton is a developmental player who will need some time to transition his skills into the NBA. With that being said, Hamilton has a lot of potential coming with his 7'0'', 260-pound frame.
Hamilton will be a force in the paint, because of his size alone, and if he's able to become comfortable in the Heat's summer league rotation, he'll be an exciting prospect for the Heat heading into the 2012-'13 season.
The biggest question around Hamilton is how tough he'll play against NBA-caliber talent, and we'll see that first hand during his time in the summer league.
Prediction: Hamilton will be behind Dexter Pittman to start the 2012-'13 season, but could easily surpass him on the depth chart throughout the year.
Dexter Pittman, F/C, Miami Heat (2-Years Experience)
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Player Profile: 6'11'', 285 pounds
2011-'12 Per-Game Stats: 3.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.2 blocks, 46.8 FG%, 64.3 FT%
Key Storyline: Dexter Pittman has been underwhelming throughout his two years in the NBA so far, but he's showed glimpses of the potential that exists in what he brings to the court.
Pittman put together four 10-plus point games this past season, and those kind of games are why the Heat decided to pick up the final year of his contract this past offseason for $854,389.
Pittman will have to put up impressive numbers during the summer league to work his way back into the Heat's seven or eight-man rotation. If Pittman fails to impress he could find himself buried on the Heat's bench, just like he was during this past season.
Prediction: Pittman will be deep on the Heat's bench to start the 2012-'13 season, because he will fail to impress, yet again, during the summer league.
Key Storyline for Entire Summe League Roster
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The biggest storyline to watch during the Heat's summer league over the next few weeks is going to be if they have any true potential in the youth they have on their roster.
There's no doubt that the Heat have one of the best six/seven-man rotations in the NBA, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Ray Allen. The problem for the Heat is that they need to find young players who will be a part of their franchise for the next few years to come.
The 2012 summer league will be very important for the Heat so that they can determine if the young talent they have is actually worth keeping around.
The Heat need youth on their bench, and if players like Norris Cole and Dexter Pittman fail to improve, the Heat will need to find other players who can add legitimate production to their bench.