Jordan Mickey showing Heat there’s more to his game than defense and rebounding

MIAMI — Jordan Mickey’s defensive and rebounding ability caught the Heat’s eye. But he’s proving there’s more to his game this preseason.

At 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, Mickey attempted just one 3-point shot in 41 games over the first two seasons of his NBA career with the Celtics. But the potential to become a stretch forward is there.

Mickey, 23, had made 3-of-5 3-pointers in five games with Miami this preseason. This includes Wednesday’s game-winning three, when he hit a 28-foot shot with 1.0 seconds remaining to lift the Heat to a 117-115 win over the Wizards.

Miami Heat forward Jordan Mickey (25) goes up for a shot against Charlotte Hornets forward Johnny O’Bryant III during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Hornets 109-106. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

“He’s just showed some of his versatility,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Mickey after Wednesday’s game. “He’s been very consistent, steady. He doesn’t get too high or too low on anything. He’s just trying to get better. That’s good energy, good karma. He’s been bringing so much life, just positive energy to the rest of the guys, waiting for his opportunity. He didn’t get down or frustrated or caught into his own dilemma. Then he has a great moment like this. If your clear in the mind and your pure, these kind of moments happen for you.”

Mickey finished Wednesday’s game with 12 points and six rebounds. Miami outscored Washington by a team-best 15 points with Mickey on the court.

But defense and rebounding are the skills that earned him a contract with the Heat this offseason. With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Mickey is an above average shot blocker and rebounder.

In college, Mickey was an elite shot blocker and rebounder. He led the Southeastern Conference with 9.9 rebounds and led the nation with 3.65 blocks per game in his final season at LSU, joining Hall of Famer and former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in school history to block at least 100 shots in a season.

That success carried over into the developmental league. Mickey averaged 9.7 rebounds and 3.8 blocks in 35 regular-season games for the Maine Red Claws — the Celtics’ G League affiliate — over the past two seasons.

And Spoelstra said Mickey has been the Heat’s leading shot blocker in a training camp that includes Hassan Whiteside, who led the NBA in blocks in 2015-16. Mickey is averaging 1.2 blocks this preseason.

“It’s part of, kind of, what got me here — defense, shot blocking and rebounding,” said Mickey, who was drafted by the Celtics with the 33rd overall pick in 2015. “I want to continue to grow on that. That’s what got me noticed and I’m going to keep on doing that and hopefully I can get a spot on the floor eventually and it’ll take me somewhere.”

Mickey is expected to make the Heat’s 15-man regular-season roster because of his guaranteed contract and his impressive preseason play. His contract with Miami is for two seasons with the first guaranteed at the $1.5 million veteran’s minimum and the second at the Heat’s option.

“It’s all part of the process,” Mickey said of earning his spot on Miami’s roster. “I’m the new guy here. I kind of went through the same thing in Boston. It’s nothing new. You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. I’m just out here playing hard and trying to impress the coaches.”

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