Heat Summer League Roster 2013: Biggest Names to Watch for Miami
The marquee names that should stand out to fans are second-round pick James Ennis (who was acquired by Miami from the Atlanta Hawks on draft day for a future second-rounder) and Myck Kabongo, an undrafted guard out of the University of Texas.
With a roster as loaded as Miami’s is, these players will be fighting simply to make the cut. However, if they manage to do so, there’s a chance they could wind up playing a meaningful role for the team that has won the past two NBA titles.
5. Larry Drew II
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Larry Drew II started his collegiate career at North Carolina before transferring to UCLA, where he played the 2012-13 season after sitting out 2011-12. At UCLA, Drew’s minutes increased to 35.5 per game, and with more time on the court, he put up much better numbers.
He averaged 7.5 points on 44.6 percent shooting from the field and 43.3 percent from three-point range. He also proved to be a great distributor by averaging 7.3 assists per game versus just 2.5 turnovers. He added 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game to the box score as well.
Despite going undrafted in 2013, it’s clear that Drew brings a lot to the table. He never found a niche at North Carolina because he had to compete for playing time against Kendall Marshall (the 13th overall pick in the 2012 draft).
Nevertheless, he put up solid numbers at UCLA and can prove his worth to the Heat this summer.
4. Jarvis Varnado
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Jarvis Varnado certainly took an unorthodox route to the NBA.
After getting drafted 41st overall by the Miami Heat in the 2010 draft, he signed a contract to play with a second-division Italian team called Carmatic Pistoia. His initial success overseas was followed by stints in Israel, Italy, the NBA Development League and the Boston Celtics before he found his way back to Miami via a 10-day contract.
He was signed for the remainder of the season on January 30 and was on the roster that won the 2013 championship.
Dating back to his days at Mississippi State, Varnado has been a defensive specialist adept at blocking shots. He led the NCAA in blocks in 2007-08 with 157. That tied Shaquille O’Neal for the most blocks in a season for the SEC.
Unfortunately, Varnado is undersized for an interior player. His 6’9” frame isn’t ideal for the NBA, but his hustle and commitment to defense are his two biggest strengths.
3. D.J. Stephens
During a pre-draft workout with the Brooklyn Nets, D.J. Stephens recorded an insane 46-inch vertical leap. That’s the highest vertical leap ever measured by the NBA, according to Jay Busbee of Yahoo! Sports.
His tremendous display of athleticism shot him up some draft boards, but athletic ability alone wasn’t enough, because the swingman from the University of Memphis still went undrafted.
Now Stephens will play for the Miami Heat’s Summer League team. There’s no guarantee that he’ll make the roster, but he’ll surely be fun to watch.
Aside from sheer athletic talent, Stephens brings a defensive mindset to the court. That’s something that could endear him to the coaching staff in Miami.
2. James Ennis
Aside from Varnado, Ennis is the only player on this list who was actually selected in an NBA draft. The Atlanta Hawks nabbed the 6’7” swingman out of Long Beach State University in the second round (50th overall). He was promptly traded to the Miami Heat for a future second-rounder.
Ennis was the engine that made the 49ers run last season. He led the team by averaging 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He has a solid outside-shooting stroke and consistently knocked down free throws at the charity stripe (83.4 percent last season).
Ennis would be a solid addition to Miami’s roster. Fans will have to wait and see if he performs well enough during the summer to justify a spot.
1. Myck Kabongo
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Of all the players who went undrafted in 2013, Kabongo is perhaps the most surprising.
When Bill Simmons asked analyst Jay Bilas which player he was surprised hadn’t been drafted late in the second round of ESPN’s broadcast, Kabongo was one of the first names listed. He’s a raw basketball player, but the talent and athleticism are clearly there.
He's not NBA-ready, but he has a high ceiling.
Kabongo played 37.3 minutes per game for Texas last season. He averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, five rebounds and two steals per game. On the negative side, he was careless with the ball, averaging 3.4 turnovers. He also shot just 41.8 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from the three-point line.
As with any young player, Kabongo has his positives and negatives. Regardless, Bilas isn’t the only person who was surprised the young guard went undrafted.
The Miami Heat are pretty well off at point guard with Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Nevertheless, adding Kabongo to the fray would give the team another playmaker around LeBron and Wade.
He’ll have to raise eyebrows in the NBA Summer League and outplay teammates like Larry Drew II, but Kabongo has a chance to prove every team wrong for passing on him in the 2013 draft.