The Miami Heat walked out of the 2021 NBA Draft without a single draftee. But while they didn’t take part in draft night, Miami was extremely active in the undrafted free agent market.
Who did the Heat sign after the draft, what will they bring to the summer league team, and could they make the main roster?
Miami Heat undrafted players in 2021
Dejon Jarreau, guard, Houston
Dejon Jarreau, 23, is a 6-foot-5 guard out of the University of Houston. Jarreau averaged 10.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting 43.2% from the field in his senior season at Houston.
The 23-year-old guard is athletic with a good motor and projects to be a defensive specialist at the next level. Jarreau won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in the American Athletic Conference in 2021.
Jarreau is a terrific defender against other guards by squeezing them with constant pressure. For example, Jarreau shut down Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim to 3-of-13 from the field in Houston’s Sweet 16 victory this season.
However, Jarreau’s offense is a work in process. Jarreau is an inconsistent three-point shooter and shot 28.5% from beyond the arc in his four-year college career. Finishing with his left hand was almost non-existent too.
The former Houston guard makes up for his shooting with his playmaking. Jarreau is capable of initiating a pick-and-roll and can create when in those situations. His handles are questionable sometimes, which does lead to turnovers.
Jarreau will need to improve on his shot if he wants to reach his full potential as an NBA player. The Heat typically like hard-nosed defensive players, which plays in Jarreau’s favor for a two-way contract or spot on the G-League team.
Javonte Smart, guard, LSU
Javonte Smart, 22, is a 6-foot-4 guard out of Louisiana State University (LSU). Smart averaged 16.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 46.0% from the field in his junior season at LSU.
The 22-year-old is a good shooter, especially from deep where he shot 40.2% in his final collegiate season. Smart is capable of scoring off the dribble and has good playmaking abilities.
However, his offense isn’t fully polished. Smart has struggled to draw fouls and only attempted 2.3 free throws per game in his final season. Smart also turned the ball over 2.6 times per game.
Smart’s defense is average, but there can be a lack of discipline on that end of the floor at times. There are no glaring holes in his game, which is better than previous players that have come through the Heat’s system.
The former LSU guard will need to become more consistent on the offensive end of the floor during his development. For example, Smart never shot over 45.0% in the last eight games of the season after shooting over that for six out of seven games.
Smart has a chance to be a backup point guard in the NBA and Miami should give him stretches at the point during summer league.
R.J. Nembhard, guard, TCU
R.J. Nembhard, 22, is a 6-foot-5 guard out of Texas Christian University (TCU). Nembhard averaged 15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 40.0% from the field in his junior season at TCU.
The 22-year-old guard does many things well on both ends of the floor, such as his playmaking and ability to guard 1-3. Nembhard is good off-the-ball and has great vision out of a pick-and-roll.
Nembhard’s vision out of a pick-and-roll is good, but sloppiness on offense leads to turnovers, especially last season with 3.6 per game. Keeping a tight handle with the ball was a concern in his final year.
Nembhard isn’t a good shooter and has an awkward shooting motion. Nembhard’s best season shooting the ball from the field was his senior year when he shot 40.0% on 13.3 attempts per game.
He is skilled in driving to the basket with a quick burst, but inconsistency while finishing at the rim is an issue. Specifically, Newmbhard has trouble finishing with his left hand, and defenses force him in that direction.
The former TCU guard’s shooting is going to limit his upside. Nembhard is a very skilled point guard, but his jump shot needs tweaking. If he can work with Miami’s coaches and fix these issues, the organization may have found another undrafted gem.
D.J. Stewart Jr., guard, Mississippi St.
D.J. Stewart Jr., 22, is a 6-foot-6 guard out of Mississippi St. Stewart averaged 16.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while shooting 41.0% from the field in his sophomore season at Mississippi St.
The 22-year-old is an excellent athlete with a good shot off the dribble. Stewart has a steady floater with a high release point that makes it difficult for defenders to block his shot anywhere on the court.
Stewart has a great frame with a 7-foot-0.5 wingspan that gives him defensive upside at the next level. However, his motor has been a cause for concern when it comes to both ends of the floor.
There were times last season where Stewart gave up on defense when he was out of his stance. He has the length and body to be a good defender, but he needs to give it his all.
The Mississippi St. guard’s speed when it comes to his dribbling and getting to his spots is slow. This is a major concern due to the pace of the NBA today.
Stewart needs to speed up his game and the summer league will be a good test for him. There are better options among the group for two-way contracts based on potential, but Stewart could use a year or two in the G-League.
A.J. Lawson, guard, South Carolina
A.J. Lawson, 21, is a 6-foot-6 guard out of the University of South Carolina. Lawson averaged 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 39.4% from the field in his junior season at South Carolina.
The 21-year-old is an explosive athlete with really quick feet on the defensive end of the floor. Lawson provides immediate relief on defense and has the ability to guard fast ball-handlers.
Lawson thrives in transition and identifies cutters very quickly. The former South Carolina guard also has a quick first step with strong finishes at the rim, which is done despite his lack of physical strength.
However, his offense is still a work in progress as his jump shot continues to improve. Last season, Lawson improved his three-point shot to 35.1% on 8.0 attempts per game.
Like Nembhard, there is a flaw in Lawson’s jump shot. Lawson is inconsistent on his follow-through. If he can improve his follow-through, other areas of his offense where he struggles, such as his moving and pull-up jumpers, should also improve.
The Miami Heat may have something special in Lawson, but they need to be patient. His jump shot isn’t as clunky as some players they have signed, so his other freakish abilities should show out more than others.
Micah Potter, forward, Wisconsin
Micah Potter, 23, is a 6-foot-10 forward out of the University of Wisconsin. Potter averaged 12.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists while shooting 50.4% from the field in his senior season at Wisconsin.
The 23-year-old is the only forward or center that Miami signed after the draft. Potter is a good shooter that can stretch the floor out to the three-point line. He also has solid footwork and shooting touch in the post.
Potter has also been efficient when passing the ball from the post to the outside. The former Wisconsin forward’s offense is far more advanced than his defense, but there was an effort last season to improve on that end.
Potter is not the best interior defender, which is not the greatest for a 6-foot-10 forward translating to the NBA. His perimeter defense is not much better.
Some of Potter’s game might be misinterpreted due to the pace of Wisconsin’s basketball team. Potter is super mobile for a big man of his size and has a high motor.
Potter has the offense to make it as a stretch big in the NBA if he can shoot his collegiate career average of 38.1% from the three-point line. His defense will be the question for him moving forward.
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Author: Austin Konenski