Heat coach Eric Glass says Derrick Walton Jr. still contributing despite shooting woes

Bam Adebayo, shown here during a summer league game last week against Sacramento, led the Heat’s victory over Utah on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LAS VEGAS – The Miami Heat move onto tournament play in the Las Vegas summer league Thursday, but it is unknown if their two best players will be on the court.

Forward Derrick Jones Jr. has not played since spraining his right ankle Sunday and coach Eric Glass said Jones remains day-to-day. But since Jones did not practice Wednesday it is highly unlikely he will play when the Heat face the Pelicans at 4 p.m. at the Cox Pavilion.

“He couldn’t do anything,” Glass said after Wednesday’s practice at The Clark High School in Las Vegas. “We will see how (Thursday) goes. It’s not as bad as we thought it was.”

Bam Adebayo, who had 24 points and nine rebounds in the Heat’s 98-90 victory over Utah on Tuesday, could also sit. Adebayo has played in all but one of the Heat’s six summer league games, missing their second game in Las Vegas.

The Heat’s coaches will decide if they want to shut down Adebayo.

Miami will face the Pelicans for a second time in four games, having lost 110-84 Saturday.

If the Heat defeat New Orleans they advance in tournament play on Saturday. If they lose, their final game of summer league is Friday.

The Heat are 3-3 in summer league games, 2-1 in Sacramento, 1-2 in Las Vegas.

“I looked at it like there’s 29 other teams, we got to play the same team again?” Glass said. “But on the positive side we have some film against these guys. There are things they really hurt us on, a shooter that really hurt us. Let’s correct what we can do. It’s a good challenge.”

Trevon Bluiett, an undrafted rookie out of Xavier, scored 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-10 on threes.

One player who needs more time on the court to get his shot back on track is Derrick Walton Jr., the point guard who spent last season on a Heat two-way contract. Walton has struggled mightily, making just 12-of-49 from the floor (24.5 percent) and 3-of-27 on threes (11.1 percent). He is averaging 7.2 points.

“It’s really hard in this game, especially when you’re a shooter when your shot’s not going to find a way to impact the game,” Glass said. “He’s done that. He’s never put his head down. He’s never turned down an open shot. He’s focused on giving to his teammates and competing on the defensive end of the floor and that’s all you can ask for.”

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Where has Heat second-year center Bam Adebayo shown the most improvement this summer

Miami’s Bam Adebayo drives against Lakers’ center Moritz Wagner during a summer league game July 3 in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LAS VEGAS – Bam Adebayo called it the “UD” role, trying to emulate Heat captain Udonis Haslem as the most experienced player on the team’s summer league roster.

While Adebayo has spent the last two weeks working on the tangible parts of his game – rebounding, defense, ball handling, outside shooting – it’s that intangible of growing into a leader that he first pointed to when asked what has stood out for him while in Sacramento and Las Vegas.

And when it comes to leadership and acting like a coach on the court in the Heat organization, the first name everyone thinks of is Haslem, the 16-year veteran who has played on three championship teams.

“I’m gaining more off the court than on the court, just because I’m trying to be a team captain and trying to get everybody together, trying to get everybody in their spot,” Adebayo said. “I’m gaining a lot of confidence in myself in being a leader.”

Heat coach Eric Glass has put Adebayo in that position; asking him to be more vocal, to mentor those players who are getting their first taste of being a professional.

“We want to see him be like another coach out there, putting all the other four guys in their spots,” Glass said. “Bam’s our (first round) pick from last year. He’s the face of our team right now in summer league. It’s not always about his individual performance.”

Adebayo, who turns 21 on July 18, has been a little bit uneven on the court. The Heat challenged him to grab every rebound possible. He has played in five games, sitting out the Heat’s second game in Las Vegas, and is averaging 9.2 rebounds.

“I can definitely do better, keeping guys off the glass,” he said. “I’ve got to go out and fight harder for rebounds.”

The Heat have not announced whether Adebayo will play Thursday when they begin play in the tournament round. Miami plays New Orleans at 4 p.m. If they win, they play Saturday. Lose and their final game of summer league is Friday.

The Pelicans defeated the Heat, 110-84, on Saturday.

While Adebayo has been aggressive around the rim, especially in Miami’s victory over Utah on Tuesday when he had 24 points, nine rebounds and went to the free throw line 16 times, making 14, he also has worked on his perimeter game, more so during the three games in Sacramento when he had the ball in his hands at half court and the three-point circle  little more more than he has in Las Vegas and showed several times he has a Euro step.

But Adebayo has not been efficient offensively, shooting just 36.3 percent (20 of 55). Adebayo said it was “a little bit frustrating” that he’s missed so many shots.

“I put in a lot of work into it,” he said. “I spent hours and hours getting the reps, but I know it will fall. I’m not too worried about it. I just got to keep going out there and being a team player and helping us win.”

Several of those were jump shots, which is a priority for Adebayo to work on during the summer. Adebayo averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 69 games as a rookie. Of his 174 field goals, 91 were dunks, which placed him 25th in the league. Of his 340 field goal attempts, 300 were from within 10 feet and just 21 shots were from beyond 15 feet.

Adebayo has attempted two 3-pointers during summer league, missing both.

“The rhythm, the shot, is all good,” Adebayo said. “It’s just I got to get those bounces. You’ve got to live with the result.

“They want me to shoot it. I’ve got to be in the right position to shoot it and when I get my chance I’ve got to keep making it and build from there.”

As for a go-to move, Adebayo still appears to be working on one. His offensive game remains built on power. Most of his baskets still come from dunks but he’s working to develop a shot from around the basket.

“He’s got a couple of things he can go to,” Glass said. “I don’t know if I would say there’s a go-to move. I think it’s better to have a reactive to what the defense is doing and have multiple moves.”

Adebayo has now gone through two summer camps, the first as a wide-eyed rookie just days removed from being the 14th overall pick in the draft and this year, as a summer league veteran.

For him, the game has slowed down noticeably.

“First year, I was in a real high pace running around and I couldn’t pace myself.” He said. “Now it’s kind of calm and the game has slowed down for me.”

Something he hopes happens when the Heat next reconvene, which will be for training camp in late September.

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UPDATED: Miami Heat sign former Michigan star Duncan Robinson to a two-way contract

Miami Heat forward Duncan Robinson drives against Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeffrey Carroll during Tuesday’s summer league game in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LAS VEGAS – Duncan Robinson still is trying to get a grasp on everything that has happened for him since leaving the University of Michigan.

“This whole process ever since I finished up at Michigan has been a little bit of a whirlwind,” Robinson said. “I’ve just tried to enjoy it as much as possible, make the most of everyday. I feel like in doing so I put myself in good position.”

Good enough for the Heat to offer Robinson a two-way contract, which he signed Tuesday, a reward for his impressive summer-league play.

Robinson, 6-foot-8 forward, agreed to play for the Heat’s summer league team after going undrafted last month. He has started all six Heat games, including Tuesday’s 98-90 victory over Utah in which he scored 12 points. Robinson is averaging 12.3 points on 54.3 percent shooting (25 of 46), including 58.3 percent (10 of 34) on threes.

“He’s really put in a lot of work,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. “He’s earned that contract. Everyone in the organization is really happy and we’re excited about it.”

The Heat now have 12 players under contract for their preseason training camp, which starts in late September.

With each NBA team allowed to have up to two players under two-way contracts, teams can carry up to 17 players on its roster during the regular season and up to 20 players before and during training camp and the preseason. The two-way contract does not count against the 15-man regular season roster.

Robinson showed his outside shooting prowess at Michigan, finishing his career with the fourth-most 3-pointers in Wolverines history. He hopes to get to Miami soon after summer league end and said the next step is to improve his defense.

“Really improving my body, getting in really good shape, that way I can really defend at this level,” Robinson said. “I feel like I’m far from finished in that regard. I’m excited to put in the work.”

Heat center Bam Adebayo described playing with Robinson like playing with Wayne Ellington, the Heat free agent guard who established a franchise record last season with 227 made 3-pointers.

“He’s been developing this mentality where it’s like no pump fakes, just let it go,” Adebayo said about Robinson. “He’s benefiting from (that). So every time I go to duck inside, I expect him to shoot it every time. Every time I hand it off, ‘just shoot it, Duncan.’ Just playing with him, he reminds me of Wayne so much, just in a different body.”

The reached out to Robinson immediately after the June 21 draft ended.

“We liked him a lot,” said Chet Kammerer, the Heat’s vice president of player personnel. “His ability to shoot. We talked to (Erik) Spoelstra. He talked about the one quality he likes the most or wants the most is shooters. To me he’s an elite shooter and he’s proven that so far here.”

Kammerer has been impressed with more than just Robinson’s shot. Robinson has said he felt like he “was labeled” at Michigan and is hoping to show he is more than a jump shooter.

“I think he’s done a little bit more than we anticipated,” Kammerer said. “He’s had two dunks now off the dribble in the half court, which were kind of unexpected. And (Saturday) he had six rebounds in 20 minutes. Those are big factors.

“You look for other things. The more diverse his game is, is helpful for him. Still the key is for him to make shots. That’s why he is valued as a player is his ability to stroke the ball and the fact that he’s not 6-3. You like guys who are a little longer and you like that.”

Two-way contracts were added under the new collective-bargaining agreement that took effect last July, which allow for NBA teams to keep the rights to two players on their G League squads on top of the NBA’s standard 15-player roster limit. Players under two-way contracts can’t be poached by another team, as these players can spend up to 45 days with their NBA teams and the rest of the time must be spent with the NBA team’s G-League affiliate — Miami’s developmental affiliate is the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Derrick Jones Jr., who was on a two way contract with the Heat last year after signing in late December, was rewarded with a two-year standard contract this summer. Derrick Walton Jr., also on the Heat’s summer league roster, spent the entire 2017-18 season on a two-way contract.

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Summer league about developing players, whether for the Heat or other organizations

Heat center Landry Nnoko and Kings forward Harry Giles reach for a rebound during the first half of a summer league game July 5 in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LAS VEGAS – The Heat’s summer league roster has 14 players. Just two are under contract and guaranteed a job this season – Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr.

If any other player winds up in the Heat’s camp, or any other team’s, coach Eric Glass will feel a sense of satisfaction.

“It’s the tough part about it, you can’t take every guy and even some of the guys we’ve had on our main teams that have developed and gone on elsewhere you want to see them be successful,” Glass said. “When you’re competing against them you don’t, but every other time you want them to feel like you were a part of helping them on their journey.”

The Heat face Utah at 4:30 p.m. today. Miami is 2-3 during summer league, including 0-2 in Las Vegas. Jones has played just 7 ½ minutes in the two games in Las Vegas, sitting the first and coming out of the second after spraining his right ankle. He will not play today and could miss Miami’s final two games.

Adebayo will return today after not playing in Miami’s loss to Charlotte on Sunday.

The Heat’s player development is not just about seeing their players succeed, but others that might have started in the Heat’s summer camp or even regular season camp and are on another roster. That is why the staff, whether it’s Glass’ during summer league or Erik Spoelstra’s during the regular season, spends so much time with every player.

“All 14 of them each day, they’re focus is developing themselves as individuals and that’s through film sessions, through games, through practices, through chalk talks,” Glass said about the players on the summer league roster.

“It’s just trying to pick up as much information as you can, learning how to be a professional and hopefully we can find these guys some jobs so they can start their careers.”

Others who have had their moments during the last week:

Undrafted free agent Duncan Robinson out of Michigan, who has been the most impressive of the players not under contract. Robinson is averaging 12.4 points on 57.8 percent shooting (22 of 38), including 62.9 percent (17 of 27) on threes.

* Guard Daryl Macon, an undrafted free agent from Arkansas, had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists Sunday. Macon has 22 assists in four games including 11 in a win over the Lakers in Sacramento.

* Forward Yante Maten, the SEC’s player of the year from Georgia, had 25 points and 13 rebounds in the Heat’s two wins in Sacramento. He has struggled some in Las Vegas but had 10 rebounds in the two losses.

* Guard Rashad Vaughn, the 17th overall pick in the 2015 draft, has 27 points in the two games in Las Vegas. Vaughn, who has played for three NBA teams in his two seasons, played one season at UNLV before entering the draft.

* Center Landry Nnoko, the 2017-18 G League Defensive Player of the Year, had 12 points and 13 rebounds against Charlotte. Forward/center Jarrod Jones, who has played the last six seasons in Europe, had 15 points and 12 rebounds against New Orleans.

* Guard Derrick Walton Jr., who spent last year splitting time between the Heat and Sioux Falls while in a two-way contract, has struggled with his shot. In four games he is 9-of-42 from the field (.214) and 3-of-24 on threes (.125).

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[Mailbag: Why is it taking so long for the Heat to re-sign Wayne Ellington?]

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Derrick Jones Jr. credits Heat for holding him to ‘higher standard;’ Bam talks about playing ‘UD role’

Miami Heat guard Derrick Jones Jr., left, and Golden State Warriors forward Marcus Derrickson battle for rebounding position during a summer league game last week in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LAS VEGAS – Derrick Jones Jr. will not play Tuesday when the Heat face Utah in their third game in the Las Vegas summer league, but the Heat have seen all they need from this jumping-jack forward.

Jones sprained his ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Hornets. Although the Heat list him as day-to-day, it’s doubtful Jones will play again in Las Vegas. Miami already has seen Jones’ game and confidence progress, something he says that has come because of demands that are non-negotiable with the Heat.

“I work harder than I did ever in my life when I’m with this team,” Jones said after the Heat’s practice Monday on the UNLV campus, where he spent one year of college. “They hold you to a higher standard. It’s like everybody in the organization is working hard so you don’t want to be that one guy that’s singled out – ‘He’s just in here BS-ing it and going half-ass.’

“I want to be that one that they say ‘Yeah, he’s in here every day, he’s working hard, he wants to be better.’ That’s the player I planned on being. That’s the player I am now.”

But Jones, 21, blames himself. He joined the Phoenix Suns at 19 after going undrafted out of UNLV. He played in just 36 games with the Suns over about 1 ½ years before being waived. He signed to a two-way contract with the Heat on Dec. 31.

During his time with Suns, Jones was assigned or recalled from their G League team 23 times.

“I should have held myself (with more) accountability when I was in Phoenix.” Jones said. “But I was a young kid, fresh out of college. I just had turned 19 years old. It’s something that I should have been doing. I’m doing it now.

“I realized I had to work harder. I feel like I’m one of the hardest working players on the team. I’m going to keep it going until whenever my day is done. I want to be able to feel like I worked my tail off every day, never took any days off.”

The Heat saw that commitment and rewarded Jones with a two-year standard contract he signed less than two weeks ago.

“This summer he really took it upon himself to get in the gym and work and grind,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. “He became obsessed with the game. He just dominated every game he was in whether it was on the offensive boards, on the defensive end, his leadership, his attacking, he was on a different level than most of the other guys on the court and were really happy to see that.”

Jones averaged 21.3 points on 22-of-42 shooting in the three summer league games in Sacramento last week. He added 22 rebounds, six steals and four blocks.

Glass said Bam Adebayo will return for Tuesday’s 4:30 p..m. game after getting a break on Sunday. Adebayo said he played the “UD” role, referring to veteran Udonis Haslem who has been a leader and mentor in the Heat locker room for several years.

“They wanted me to be the UD of the team,” Adebayo said. “UD sits over there to be vocal and be loud, just help everybody out when they come off the court.”

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