Miami Heat: KZ Okpala and Maurice Harkless should be rotated in more

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) drives to the basket as Miami Heat forward KZ Okpala (4) defends(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) drives to the basket as Miami Heat forward KZ Okpala (4) defends(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Miami Heat options are slim but not difficult. Coach Spoelstra loves to experiment with the rotation but with injuries and covid safety protocols plaguing the limited options he needs as firm starters, he has to continue to exercise matchup opportunities.

While Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk have proven themselves somewhat worthy in key matchup situations, they cannot fathom any kind of consistency. Meyers becomes a brute force down in the post, tackling any attacker the rim might see.

His 25.9% FG defensive rebounding leads the entire Miami Heat frontcourt. But even then, that same effort can’t be replicated offensively.

Take in mind though, that comes from only being asked to do exactly that – focus on the defensive rebounds. Averaging 10 minutes per game, he utilizes that role to stand firm defensively.

Kelly Olynyk is a rollercoaster of emotions as a diehard Heat fan. He surprises, shooting lights out and going 15 points on 3 of 9 three-pointers against the current number one seed in the East, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then he puts up a horrendous 3 points in 25 minutes in a game two days later. Frustration for lack of sheer consistency is an overstatement.

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The Miami Heat should experiment a bit more to address their forward situation.

Then we see what could be a molding example of what the Heat should develop in that forward position. It comes in the name of Moe Harkless and KZ Okpala.

Why do both of these stand out among the rest? Well for starters, their physiques more than anything.

Harkless and KZ both have a 7’2’’ wingspans and the athleticism to defend guards. With Miami struggling lately to have their full team back on the floor, they need to roll out different man-to-man scenarios or stick with their zone defense.

I think this is where Harkless or KZ should be inserted. This goes especially if this is something they ever have to consider for the long run.

The starting lineup, when healthy, of Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo should have that final spot reserved for either of these two. The Heat currently ranks 22nd overall defensively, allowing opponents to score 112 points per game.

It’s especially on display during the early quarters. They have gotten off to putridly slow starts for much of the season.

Harkless, in Miami’s back to back games against Detroit, had a Plus/Minus of +11 on the floor. He pressured their forwards and had 8 contested shots.

Okpala hasn’t graced us with a defensive game like that but has shown flashes of his quickness on both sides. He also had 16 points in 27 minutes in that same Detroit game.

From a defensive standpoint and to cue in length matchups against bigger opponents, both KZ and Moe fit that bill. Even with smaller lineups, they can hold their own in the transition game.

They won’t scream highlight of the night or poster dunks, but they have Jimmy, Bam, and the Eastern Conference’s answer to the Splash Brothers for that, but they can accommodate to their position well enough to contend on any given night.

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In an early review of an experimental rotation type of season, meaning these changes should be thrown in the mix. At least for defensive purposes, which is one of the first priorities that the Miami Heat desperately need to address in order to get back into Eastern Conference contention.