2. Dru Smith
- Contract: 2 years / $3,922,462
- 2023-24 Salary: $1,961,231
In July of this year, Guard Dru Smith and Jamaree Bouyea both signed two-way contracts with the Miami Heat. As the team entered training camp, there were doubts about whether Smith would secure a spot on the Heat's roster. However, just days before the regular season began, Smith's contract was upgraded from a two-way contract to a standard contract.
The reason behind the team's decision to promote him to the 15-man roster was initially unclear, considering Smith's underwhelming performance during the preseason. He struggled with shooting, recording a 30.3% field goal percentage and only making 1 of 8 3-point attempts. Additionally, he had 21 assists but also committed 12 turnovers.
Despite these concerns, it has become evident within the first three weeks of the regular season that the Heat saw value in Smith. Due to the team's injury issues, he was given a larger role than initially anticipated as Miami needed depth in the backcourt. This season, Smith played over 20 minutes off the bench in four of the Heat's first 10 games.
Smith spent a chunk of his first season in the Heat’s player development program in the G League before beginning last season on a two-way deal this past summer. In his G League career, Smith has averaged 13.2 points on 46% shooting from the field.
During his time with the Heat last season, Smith had limited playing time, averaging just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and one assist in 13.4 minutes per game. Moving between the NBA and the G League, Smith was determined to keep developing his game and would make his minutes count in any way when the Heat called him up to play.
He expressed his determination to make the team and earn a regular season contract. Dru's goal was achieved when his two-way contract was switched to a standard multi-year contract in October of this year. He proved to himself and the Heat coaching staff that he had something to contribute in the big leagues and was focused on helping the team win.
Although Smith struggled with turnovers, fouls, and scoring during the preseason, Miami's track record of developing undrafted players suggests that there is potential for improvement in his game. With the contract he desired now secured, Smith remained focused on maintaining his strong work ethic.
Unfortunately, Smith's career-high was recently cut short due to an ACL sprain, and he will miss the remainder of the 2023-24 NBA season. Before his injury occurred on Nov. 22, Smith played very well despite only averaging 4.3 points and 1.6 assists in nine appearances. The two-year $3.9 million contract he signed became fully guaranteed once the injury occurred. As his contract permits, Smith will not be eligible for trade until January 21, and for next season is non-guaranteed.