UPDATE: Luke Babbitt is playing and will start
MIAMI – Okaro White is one of four players on the Heat roster who have yet to start a game.
Could that number be reduced to three tonight?
White, on his second 10-day contract, could be coach Erik Spoelstra’s choice if forward Luke Babbitt is unable to play. Babbitt sprained his right ankle in Monday’s victory over the Nets and is questionable for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. game against Atlanta.
“I feel pretty good,” Babbitt said after today’s shootaround, adding that he is going to go through pregame warmups before determining if he can play.
If not, the 6-foot-8 White seems like the logical choice considering the Heat already start guards Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters and Rodney McGruder and Spoelstra has shown no inclination to tinker with the roles of forward James Johnson (and guard Tyler Johnson) coming off the bench.
“I don’t have a hesitation to put anybody in the starting lineup this year,” Spoelstra said. “Haven’t we started everybody?”
Almost. James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Udonis Haslem are the only players who have been with the team all season that have not started at least one game as Spoelstra has rolled out 18 different starting lineups.
White, the rookie from Florida State, has played in seven games and is averaging 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds. But his contributions have gone beyond the box score, especially in the fourth quarter where he has played significant minutes.
Oh, and Miami has not lost since he arrived. The Heat’s current eight-game winning streak started the day White signed his first 10-day contract.
“Whatever minutes that he has, (he will) defend, play with energy, toughness on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been doing that. He really fills in a lot of gaps just with intangibles when he plays.”