The Miami Heat organization has made more headlines than any other team this offseason. Apparently, their summer league squad is trying to add its own two cents.
Of the many ongoing battles for training camp invites, none is bigger and more apparent than the one between two rookie 300-pound titans.
Apparently, second-round draft selection Dexter Pittman isn't a lock at securing a roster position after all. He's being pushed by Garret Siler, another rookie hopeful.
The Miami Heat selected Dexter Pittman at No. 32 in the NBA draft. Most Miami Heat fans and sports analysts thought they had a steal of a pick. A few mock drafts had Pittman as a late first-round talent—so did I.
In Pittman, the Heat acquired a 6'10" and 303 lb mammoth of a man who was credited with having the biggest hands in the draft (10.5 inches.) He also has a 7'6" wing span.
Many regarded Pittman as a prospect with soft hands, shocking speed and quickness, and a solid player with back-to-the-basket post ability. He was billed as being a mature player that would be ready to contribute to a Miami Heat roster in need of size and bulk.
Well, they got the size and athletic ability to show up.
However, the effort and statistics haven't materialized to justify the pick. He has struggled to do the things that were supposed to be his strengths. Suddenly, his prospects for making the Heat roster are looking dim.
Some have attributed his struggles to the recent death of his 15-year-old brother, who was killed by a gun shot on May 15 in Houston.
Nevertheless, things aren't looking so well for Pittman. He hasn't rebounded well (seven in two games) or finished his looks around the basket (2-for-10 in two games). The only aspect of his game that has been impressive is his shot-blocking ability. He has four blocks in two games played.
Garret Siler is a 23-year-old that went undrafted in last summers' NBA draft. Back then, he was a 7'0", 303 lb unknown from Augusta State University, a Division II school.
When he entered the draft, it was thought that Siler was nothing more than a massive body with a lot of raw potential. He showed a soft touch in workouts and an ability to draw fouls. But NBA teams took notice of his extremely high field goal percentage (72%) in his junior season. He also lead his club to back-to-back 20-win seasons.
Siler participated in last years' summer league with the Indiana Pacers but eventually didn't make the club's final roster. His failure to make the roster were largely because of his limited athleticism and being overweight.
Siler would be drafted by the Utah Flash in the August 2009 Developmental League draft. However, after only two games with the team, Siler would pack up to take his show on the road.
His destination was China.
Siler landed a roster spot on the Shanghai Sharks, a team credited with the development of Houston Rockets' center Yao Ming. Yao Ming should be credited for much of Siler's development, working with him on getting in shape and teaching him different aspects of the game.
While working with Yao, Siler would shed 27 lbs off his 303 lb frame. After dropping down to 276 lbs in a period of four months, the NBA once again came calling. After leading the Sharks to the semi-finals, the Atlanta Hawks extended an offer to him to come work out.
Atlanta eventually passed on him but New Jersey offered him a roster spot. Siler would play four games for their summer league club and shoot a whopping 83% from the field. Safe to say, the Heat took notice as they've given him a chance to try out.
Garret Siler wasn't on the radars of any Heat fans the last I checked—he sure wasn't on mine. I was good as sold on Pittman being the future for the Heat at the center position.
Siler's past two summer league games for the Heat have made me think differently.
It's clear that Silers' year overseas has matured him as a player. The guy has made play after play when given the chance to play consistent minutes. In three games, he's shooting 77% from the field and averaging five rebounds and eight points.
He's slow but gets up the court quicker than one would think. He's shown some explosiveness in getting off his feet and he's rebounded well on both ends of the floor and has been a pleasant surprise in the individual and help defense department.
It'll be interesting to see what he does tonight after putting up 15 points and seven rebounds in his last outing.
I doubt the Heat are ready to give up on Dexter Pittman this early in the summer. Being a second-round draft pick, they can hold on to his rights and simply ship him overseas for a year of development. That might not be what Heat fans want to hear but it's shaping up to be the most likely outcome.
What will be more interesting than the Pittman situation is what the Miami Heat decide to do in regards to Garret Siler. He's clearly earned a invitation to the team's training camp. The question remains as to whether they extend an offer.
Heat fans should hope so.