Miami Heat’s Young Staff Continues to Impress, Defeat Orlando Magic

So, do we allow LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to opt-out and leave now that the Miami Heat have Ian Clark, James Ennis and Jarvis Varnado balling out of control in the summer league?

Probably not. It’s unlikely that anybody on the Heat’s summer league roster is going to play a significant role next season, but these glorified scrimmages will give the coaching staff a greater view on which players could possibly contribute later on.

With a current roster chock full of aging veterans, the summer league has never been as important to Miami as it does this year. The Heat brought on 24 players to compete for possibly up to three roster spots, and they want to get a bead on who is going to be the most NBA-ready.

After their 94-80 win over an Orlando Magic team that was composed of mainly players you’ll end up seeing in the regular season, it’s clear to see that there is obvious talent within this gargantuan roster, with only two of the 24 players having prior NBA experience.

Miami’s second-round draft choice in James Ennis showed out for a second consecutive game, dropping 17 of his 19 total points in the first half. He shot 5-of-11 from the field, 2-of-6 from beyond the arc and converted all seven of his free throw attempts.

He also grabbed six rebounds in the 27 minutes he played.

Not wanting to lose any ground, former Belmont guard Ian Clark continued his torrid stretch of shooting, converting 2-of-4 from the field and 6-of-11 from the field to finish with 15 points. He and Ennis have been the clear-cut best perimeter shooters on the Heat, and combined to convert all four of their team’s total three-point makes.

For comparison, the rest of the team combined to shoot 0-of-6 from three. Scotty Hopson was quiet after a 22-point effort in a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. He managed only five points on six shots in 14 minutes, while turning the ball over three times.

Perhaps the most consistent player on this cornucopia of youth and athleticism, however, has been Jarvis Varnado, one of the two players on the Heat summer league roster with NBA experience.

Varnado continued to showcase a solid baseline jumper and was able to make his presence felt near the rim throughout the game, finishing with 12 free throw attempts and ending the game with 16 points on only five field-goal attempts.

He only had one rebound, though, in nearly 23 minutes worth of action.

Among other Heat players with the potential of being a possible roster addition include a well-rounded performance from Cedric Jackson, 5 points on 1-of-5 shooting, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in 23 minutes, Vincent Council’s 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 17 minutes and Michael Dunigan’s 7 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in 17 minutes.

Myck Kabongo, believed to give Ennis serious competition for one of those final roster spots, did not play. He scored a total of two points in the first two games. Although he played solid defense on Trey Burke in Miami’s first game against the Utah Jazz, he has done little else to give the coaching staff reason for more playing time.

The Magic were led by number two pick Victor Oladipo’s 22 points. Oladipo only attempted seven field-goals, but attempted 14 free throws and showcased a scarily easy ability to get from the perimeter to the rim. Clearly, he’ll be the primary scorer on the Magic in the coming season.

Even more scary, however, was the fact that the Magic, who started five players that will end up on the regular season roster, were badly beaten by a Heat team that’s composed of maybe three players with legitimate NBA talent.

That includes Andrew Nicholson, six turnovers and four personal fouls in 19 minutes, and Kyle O’Quinn, seven personal fouls in 21 minutes. Moe Harkless, Doron Lamb and Dequan Jones were also quiet.

For those keeping score at home (You need to see a shrink if you are), the Heat are now at the top of the summer league standings. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Heat’s 1pm matinee with the Detroit Pistons, heralded by the titan that is Andre Drummond and first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope this Thursday.

Don’t like the summer league? Go watch some Marlins basketball. I’ll warn you that their level of play isn’t too many steps above the Keystone Cops exhibition that is the NBA summer league.



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