The 3 most underrated players on the Miami Heat’s roster

Mar 6, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Thomas Bryant (13) gestures in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Thomas Bryant (13) gestures in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

In order to be called World Champions and hoist the Larry O’Brien, a team has to go through the treacherous regular season and playoffs with a strong roster from top to bottom. Depth and versatility at positions like forward and center have plagued the Miami Heat in years past, but they seem to have focused on necessary role players this offseason.

With the addition of Thomas Bryant through free agency, Jaime Jaquez Jr. in the NBA draft, and a guaranteed contract given to Haywood Highsmith, the Heat are all-in. These three players represent some of Miami’s most underrated pieces on the roster, with the ability to make an immediate impact and help the Heat crown themselves as champions.

Thomas Bryant

Miami’s needed depth at the center position for most of the franchise’s history. With a strong force in Bam Adebayo filling the starting role, they needed to bring in a guy who could protect the rim and make an impact on offense.

In Bryant, Miami is getting a player who’s played for three teams in seven seasons, recently winning an NBA title with the Denver Nuggets. Since his college days at Indiana, Bryant has had a high motor with the ability to run the floor. He’s been able to make an impact on championship-minded teams, as well as teams in the lottery.

The Heat pride themselves in their player’s versatility and Bryant fits that mold perfectly. He’ll be able to play behind Adebayo, giving the offense a floor-spacing presence in a five-out offense, or maybe even alongside Adebayo in certain lineups.

Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Heat fans have mixed feelings about the drafting of Jaime Jaquez Jr. with the 18th overall pick in June. Some think Jaquez, because he’s a rookie, isn’t ready to make an immediate impact. Others simply view him as fodder in a Damian Lillard trade. Either way, those views are selling Jaquez short.

Jaquez competed at a high level in four seasons with the UCLA Bruins, making deep runs in the NCAA tournament. Jaquez has a pro-level build, at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds. He knows how to use his body to get into scoring position and he’s an underrated passer.

The biggest strength he has on the defensive end is simply his willingness to guard. He has quick hands that can lead to deflections, but that may not work early in his NBA career. With a player like Jimmy Butler in his ear, Jaquez can take over the second string, evolving into a playmaker for an offense that likes to set off-ball screens and cut through the paint. It may take some patience, but Jaquez could be a contributor come April.

Related Story. Realistic expectations for Jaime Jaquez this season. light

Haywood Highsmith

In classic Miami Heat fashion, a former unknown could end up being a key player.

The Heat extended three Exhibit-10 contracts to Haywood Highsmith throughout the 2020-21 season. He eventually earned a three-year deal, which ends after this season. Highsmith’s averages don’t jump off the screen, registering 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 54 regular season games last year. But the fact that Highsmith has bought into the Heat’s culture and is a flexible piece that Spoelstra can move around in the lineup enhances his chances of earning more playing time this season.

Highsmith has long arms (near 7-foot- wingspan) that help him with rebounding and deflections. He’s a team player who’s keen on making the right plays, whether that’s setting multiple screens or diving for a loose ball to spark a fast break. The Heat hope his 3-point shooting will improve with more confidence since he’s been in the system for a couple of years. If Highsmith makes a big leap this season, it could pay huge dividends for the Heat.

Next. 3 Starting Lineup Options Without Lillard. dark