The 2012 champion Miami Heat have gotten the big tasks out of the way.
Now comes the detail work.
As was the case last season, and the one before it, the Heat are relatively weak at the center and the point guard positions. They won't change that in free agency—not with their cap situation. But what they can do is shore up their depth by signing a high-upside prospect to the veteran minimum.
With that aim in mind, here are five free-agent summer league standouts whom the Heat should look to sign.
Josh Akognon put on a show in the Vegas Summer League.
The 26-year-old point guard scored 58 points in 56 minutes over a three-game stretch (per NBA.com), showing the same offensive explosiveness that he did in college. In his senior season at Cal-State Fullerton, he averaged 23.9 PPG.
Akognon has been largely off the radar since then, playing the last few seasons with the DongGuan New Century Leopards in China. But now, with Norris Cole having proven himself to be an unsteady option for the Heat, Miami should look to sign Akognon as a cheap alternative.
The Miami Heat missed out on Marcus Camby, and Eddy Curry has wisely turned his attention to the world of fashion design. This leaves Miami in need of a big man off the bench once again.
Oakland University graduate Keith Benson could fill the role nicely. He averaged 16.3 and 7.3 rebounds in his first three games of summer league (via NBA.com). He also measures out as a legitimate NBA center at 6’10” (without shoes), with a 7’4” wingspan and a 9’.5” standing reach (via Draft Express)
As they look to shore up their size, the Heat need only look at what free-agent big men were paid this summer to realize signing Benson to a cheap, one-year contract could be a worthy gamble.
There’s nothing about Brad Wanamaker’s game that will thrill you, but between LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat probably have the thrills covered.
What they need is solid, not spectacular, bench production out of the point guard spot, something Wanamaker has shown he can provide if given the chance.
The 6’3” combo guard averaged 11.7 PPG and 5.1 APG during his senior season at Pitt. Afterwards, he went undrafted in 2011 but had a productive season with the Austin Toros, where he showed an ability to play both PG and SG spots. In summer league, he played his spot minutes with a sense of tempo and control that would serve him well on a veteran Miami team.
Let’s be clear on one thing: Henry Sims didn’t set the world on fire with his performance at the Orlando Summer League.
He averaged 4.25 PPG and 2.25 RPG in just 11 minutes per game playing for the Utah Jazz. But, as every amateur scout knows, summer league is one forum where the numbers do lie.
The 22-year-old Georgetown alum is a legit shot-blocker with a 7’4” wingspan and has a refined enough skill set to play spot minutes at power forward. He led all NCAA centers in assists per 40 minutes (pace adjusted) last season (via Draft Express), continuing Georgetown’s tradition of producing elite passing big men.
On the Miami Heat, Sims would be a good complement to Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem, neither of whom thrive as set-up artists
How Scott Machado has gone unsigned is something of a mystery.
He’s a pure point guard, having led the NCAA in assists with 9.9 APG his senior season at Iona, to go along with 13.6 PPG and 5.0 RPG (via ESPN). And he showed that same knack for passing in the Vegas Summer League, where he routinely connected with backcourt-mate Jeremy Lamb on flashy dimes.
Machado has an invitation to the Rockets’ training camp, but he may not make it there. Several NBA teams are looking at signing the 22-year-old prospect now, according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post. The Miami Heat should be one of them.