Florida Notes: Suggs, Miami Backcourt, Butler, Spoelstra

Magic rookie guard Jalen Suggs continues to develop his skills at the next level despite remaining sidelined due to a fractured right thumb, writes Dan Savage of Magic.com. Savage notes that the injury will not require surgery, and the club will continue to monitor it with check-ups every other week.

Rather than rehabilitate at home, Suggs wanted to travel with his Magic teammates for the club’s recent Western Conference road trip: “For me, the biggest part was still being around the team, hearing what the coaches are saying, being on the bench, and being engaged into the game. That was the biggest piece for me for wanting to come and hoping they’d let me come. Again, just continuing to build the camaraderie because I love to be around these guys.”

Savage reports that Suggs is going through game film with head coach Jamahl Mosley and assistant coach Nate Tibbetts as he hopes to take strides even while unavailable for the Magic.

“Just trying to see the flow, see where certain shots come in, see how I can better control the game in certain situations,” Suggs said. “I think they’ve done a great job of keeping me involved and keeping me engaged.”

Across 21 games thus far this season, the 6’4″ 21-year-old point guard out of Gonzaga is averaging 12.3 PPG (albeit on lackluster shooting percentages), 3.6 APG and 3.4 RPG.

There’s more out of the Sunshine State:

  • Due to a rash of injuries early in the 2021/22 NBA season, the Heat have been compelled to tinker with lineup optionality, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. The backcourt tandem of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry and up-and-comer Gabe Vincent has emerged by necessity, and may become a favorite for head coach Erik Spoelstra going forward. “You have toughness and that defensive disposition from both of them,” Spoelstra said. “Either one of them can play on the ball or play off the ball and they feel equally comfortable in that role. I think the different roles that Gabe has had to play for us the last year and a half have really prepared him to be able to complement Kyle very well.”
  • Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, in his first game back from a tailbone injury that kept him sidelined for four contests, appeared to re-injure himself after suffering a hard fall in an eventual 105-90 defeat against the Grizzlies Monday night, per ESPN.com. “It is a contact sport,” head coach Erik Spoelstra noted. “But he definitely re-aggravated it. You can tell from that point on he was not his usual self. So we’ll reevaluate him [Tuesday] and see where we are.” When available, the 32-year-old swingman has looked like his usual All-Star self, averaging 22.8 PPG on 50.9% shooting from the floor and 85.2% from the charity stripe, while chipping in 5.8 RPG and 5.2 APG across 18 games.
  • Spoelstra discussed his frustrations with himself as a coach in the wake of the Heat‘s recent slump, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The team has lost four of its last five contests overall, including three games on its home court. “I have to do a better job getting the team organized and getting the team comfortable, where the ball’s going, how we’re going to play offensively,” Spoelstra said. To be fair, the team has been without All-Stars Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo, out with injuries, for most of those games. The Heat are currently still the fourth seed in the East at 14-11. The lead man in Miami since 2008, Spoelstra is the second-longest-tenured NBA head coach, behind just Gregg Popovich of the Spurs.
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