Last night's Miami Heat’s game against the Toronto Raptors highlighted the strengths of their rookies and sophomores. KZ Okpala, Max Strus, and Precious Achiuwa combined for 59 of Miami’s 117 points in the team’s final game of the preseason.
Last season in the Orlando playoff bubble, the Heat’s young players played fantastic in important minutes along the road to the NBA Finals. Tyler Herro set Finals records as the youngest player to score 30+ points, the most points by a rookie in the Finals, and the most 3-pointers made by a rookie in the playoffs. Bam Adebayo also played wonderfully all of 2019-20 and into the postseason earning himself an All-Star appearance in just his third season in the NBA.
It seems like the Heat’s scouting department struck gold again, Achiuwa, the 21-year-old out of Memphis grabbed 15 rebounds and put up 13 points against the 2019 NBA Champions. Second-year second-round pick KZ Okpala led the team in minutes Friday night scoring 24 points on 9 for 14 shooting, knocking down 6 of his 10 3-point attempts.
Another under-the-radar standout from Miami’s outing was Max Strus, a second-year undrafted player who scored 22 points in only 22 minutes of playtime, on an efficient 8 for 11 from the field and 6 for 8 from beyond the arc.
The 2020 playoffs made everyone pay attention to the Heat’s younger players, it seems like there’s potential for the organization to have acquired even more promising stars. It will be interesting to see if Miami can provide yet another breakout season for their first and second-year players.