May 16, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Myck Kabongo is interviewed during the NBA Draft combine at Harrison Street Athletics Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat Summer League Player To Watch: Myck Kabongo

Today, Ira Winderman talked about some of the “intriguing subplots” in this year’s Miami Heat summer league team.  Among them, was the undrafted Myck Kabongo.

I recently wrote about Myck Kabongo, but to celebrate the start of the NBA’s summer league (and the first time we see Kabongo in a Heat jersey) I’m going to talk some more about Kabongo.

Who is Myck?

First of all, it’s not “Mick” like it might look like.  Instead, it’s “Mike” as in this guy.

Kabongo, is from Toronto, one of the few, but growing number of Canadians in the NBA (10 right now, including notable players such as Steve Nash, Anthony Bennett (the number one overall pick in this past draft), and Joel Anthony, who will be Kabongo’s new Heat teammate).

He was a sophomore point guard at the University of Texas, but you probably haven’t heard his name before  because he was suspended for 23 games last year by the NCAA for participating in an illegal workout.

Uh oh, he got suspended?  Isn’t that a red flag?  Do we want guys with character issues on the roster?

At the beginning of the college basketball season, the 6′ 3”, 180 lb. pass-first guard was projected to be a late first-round, early second-round pick.  Instead, he went undrafted (probably because many teams were concerned about Kabongo’s attitude, character, and development).

However, if you watch interviews with Kabongo, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s grown and matured following his suspension. He’s dealt with the (rightful) scrutiny in a responsible way, and (hopefully) realizes that in order to make the NBA, he needs to do only one thing: focus on his game.

Kabongo himself said that

“I know that I’m not a polished player, but I know that I work hard.”

Kabongo knows he’s not great, and knows he has to work hard.  In becoming a good NBA player, sometimes recognition of the hard work to come is half the battle.  What more can you ask from a young player?

Where can Kabongo get better?  Where’s he already good?

Kabongo’s main weakness is his shooting.  In the 11 games he did play for Texas this year, he averaged 29.6% from the three-point line — which is sub-par, to say the least.  You would expect Kabongo to struggle even more in the NBA, where three-pointers are a couple feet longer than in college basketball.

However, Kabongo’s responsibility (and his talents) lie not with his shooting, or his ability to score, but rather with his ability to distribute the ball.  If you watch Kabongo’s highlights, he has no qualms about passing the ball up to open teammates, or better shooters.  And often, he finds guys that you swear weren’t open only a fraction of a second before.

While his 3.4 turnovers a game (probably a by-product of trying to force some passes) is something he can work on, if Kabongo makes a roster spot (and that’s a big if) Kabongo’s job won’t be to knock down corner threes a la Shane Battier.  Instead, Kabongo’s job will be to take care of the ball (which he’s just o.k. at), and to get the ball to the open man (which he’s pretty good at).

Given that he’s a borderline first-round, definite second-round talent, picking up the undrafted Myck Kabongo was a very savvy move by the Miami Heat.  If he can make the Miami Heat roster, he’ll be able to add some youth to some of the aging guards on the roster (I’m looking at you, Ray Allen).

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