The Heat not only won in Phoenix Saturday night against a Suns team with the league’s best record, they did it with a starting lineup that included Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Omer Yurtseven, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. That trio makes up part of Hollinger’s “Dog Days Heroes,” recognizing under-the-radar players who have excelled in December and January.
Yurtseven signed with Miami in the final week of last season after a strong showing in the G League. He was the third center on the depth chart when the season began, but the Heat’s injuries and COVID-19 absences have given him an unexpected workload. He has responded by ranking second in the league in with a 23.8 rebound rate, along with a 4.1% block rate.
Strus, who spent most of last season recovering from a torn ACL, is shooting 41.8% from three-point range. He has also doubled his rebound rate this year and has improved on defense. Martin, who signed a two-way contract after the Hornets waived him in the offseason, has become a defensive presence in Miami and is getting points in transition. Hollinger expects him to get a standard deal later in the season when the Heat have enough room under the luxury tax to fill their final roster spot.
There’s more from Miami:
- Kyle Guy has been outstanding, but the Heat don’t appear to have a roster spot for him after his 10-day hardship contract expired Saturday night, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Guy averaged 9.8 PPG in five games and shot 45% from three-point range. However, the open roster spot is likely being saved for Martin, and the Heat like the potential of Marcus Garrett, who holds the other two-way slot. A second 10-day deal for Guy may be unlikely because Garrett is the last Miami player in the protocols and he’s expected to be cleared soon. “I’m grateful for the opportunity and making the most of it,” Guy said Friday. “So they’ll tell me when they think they need to tell me. Whether that’s at the end of the 10-day or today or tomorrow, I don’t know. So we’ll see. But I have no idea.”
- Veteran guard Mario Chalmers will see his 10-day hardship contract expire today, Chiang adds. He’s not ready to give up on playing yet, but he’s considering a future in coaching. “My mom was a coach, my dad was a coach, so I’ve been around coaches all my life,” Chalmers said. “It’s just something that I love the game of basketball so much that I’ll always want to be around it.”
- The Heat are in a strong position as the February 10 trade deadline approaches and shouldn’t feel any desperation to make a deal, contends Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.