Summer league for the Miami Heat was supposed to revolve around the organization’s last two first-round picks Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic but, with their availability stilted, others had a chance to impress.
While Jaquez was limited to one full game because of a shoulder injury and Jovic left Las Vegas early to prepare to play for Serbia in the FIBA World Cup, center Orlando Robinson was among the top performers in Summer League. Jamaree Bouyea and Drew Peterson were also among the Heat’s best.
Here’s a deeper look into how Robinson, Bouyea and Peterson fared in Las Vegas and what it means for each of them going forward.
In the two months leading up to summer league — while the Heat were occupied with an NBA Finals run and preparation for the NBA draft — Robinson was working diligently behind the scenes to reshape his game and make the most of his time in Las Vegas.
Robinson adopted a detailed weight-room plan, improved his conditioning and speed and even made changes to his shooting form. Coaches described him as “locked in.” Over the last couple of weeks during Summer League in Las Vegas, Robinson put the results of that work on display.
In the Heat’s Summer League finale on Sunday night, Robinson punctuated his impressive two-week run with 27 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block in the Heat’s 104-78 blowout win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
“Just come out, give 100 percent effort and show what I’ve been working on this whole summer,” Robinson said during an ESPN interview after Sunday’s game.
Robinson averaged 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in six games, including a 36-point eruption to open Summer League play. The 23-year-old center also shot nearly 40% from 3-point range. At 6-foot-11, 245 pounds, he looked more nimble without the ball than he did in last summer’s Vegas games and even during the regular season. Since starring at Fresno State, he has had to adjust to playing off the ball more in the NBA. He seems to have found his footing.
Robinson hopes this improvement will lead to more consistent playing time in his second season. He could end up pushing Thomas Bryant, a six-year veteran signed as a free agent earlier this month, for minutes behind starting center Bam Adebayo.
For much of the last few weeks, the Heat’s Summer League coaches pleaded with Drew Peterson: Shoot the ball.
Peterson, 23, joined Miami’s Summer League program after going undrafted out of USC, where in three years he made 38.4% of his 344 3-point attempts. The Heat were impressed with his shooting and size (6-9, 185 pounds) and brought him into their development program that has churned out sharpshooters such as Duncan Robinson and Max Strus.
But Peterson didn’t feel comfortable letting it fly right away and totaled just five 3-point attempts in Miami’s two Summer League games in Sacramento. Heading into Las Vegas, Miami’s Summer League coach Caron Butler told Peterson that his willingness to shoot isn’t selfish — it creates space that helps the rest of the team.
Peterson was much more aggressive in Las Vegas, where and took more than four 3-point attempts per game and shot 47% from distance. His shots came from a variety of looks that are typical of the Heat’s offense: Dribble hand-offs, catch-and-shoot, off screens. Peterson also flashed an ability to attack closeouts and make plays for others (2.0 assists per game). Coaches say he got much better at communicating on defense and ended up being one of the players the team trusted in Summer League’s most important moments.
With Summer League over, the Heat can invite Peterson to training camp via an exhibit-10 contract, where he can continue to compete for a role in the Heat organization. Miami also has a two-way spot available and two more standard roster spots. Depending on a potential deal to acquire Damian Lillard, the Heat could have more open roster spots and a need for shooting.
Jamaree Bouyea has a chance to take the next step within Miami’s development pipeline and follow in a recent success story’s footsteps.
A standout in Summer League a year ago after going undrafted out of San Francisco, Bouyea was invited to the Heat’s training camp, signed to their G League affiliate in Sioux Falls and signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Heat and then the Wizards before returning to Sioux Falls for the G League postseason.
Through it all, he remained close to Gabe Vincent, who took a similar path to playing time with the Heat and, as a free agent earlier this month, signed a life-changing contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While Vincent was starting at point guard during the Heat’s NBA Finals run, Bouyea was back in Sioux Falls for the postseason, where he averaged 15.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists in the playoffs and was named to the All-NBA G League second team. In his second Summer League stint, Bouyea averaged 12 points on 40.6% shooting (33.3% on 3s), 6.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists.
Like Vincent, Bouyea had been a scoring guard for most of his basketball life before working with the Heat’s coaching staff. Over these past two weeks, Bouyea’s goal was to show his improvement as a playmaker, understanding that making plays for others could be his ticket to an NBA career.
Bouyea signed a two-way contract with the Heat the day before Summer League began and, depending on if the Heat can pull off a trade for Lillard, there could be minutes available at point guard next season. With Vincent gone, Kyle Lowry is the only true point guard on the roster. (Lowry is a candidate to be included in a Lillard package or be traded elsewhere.) Even if he remains on the two-way, Bouyea should see some minutes in the regular season. But there could be a chance to climb further up in the rotation.