The Miami Heat announced last week that Max Strus was moving up from being a two-way player, signing him to a standard two-year $3.5 million contract, but he’s performing in summer league play as if his job is still on the line.
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On August 11, the Heat’s summer league game against the Memphis Grizzlies went into double-overtime, after which the tilt went into sudden death, meaning the first player to score wins the game for their team. The sudden death rule is not used in the NBA, it’s only implemented in basketball during summer league play.
The Heat and Grizzles were tied at 94-94, before Strus dribbled, pulled up, and drilled a three-pointer, securing Miami the win.
While the video of Strus’ sudden-death shot went viral on Twitter, it should be noted that the undrafted guard out of DePaul was having an incredible game before scoring the game-winning three. The 25-year-old guard scored 32 points, shooting 7-of-17 from beyond the arc, per NBC Sports.
Numerous Heat players were on the sidelines in Las Vegas watching the game, including Heat guard Tyler Herro, who can be seen applauding Strus’ cold-blooded game-winning three in the video above.
Of the viral moment, “It was fun,” Strus said per the Miami Herald. “That game was fun. Fun to play with these guys and fun to come out on top, for sure.”
Malik Allen, Heat’s regular-season assistant coach and summer league head coach praised Strus’ game-winning shot:
It was a feel and Max just had it all game. Just a will, like he had willed us so many times and periods in that game. It was just the perfect opportunity. Sudden death, this is what it is. Let’s get the ball in his hands, let’s not take any chances of it getting deflected, coming off a screen. Let’s just get it in hands in the middle of the floor and he’ll make a play.
All-Star Jimmy Butler & Head Coach Erik Spoelstra Are Huge Fan of Strus
It’s always a good sign when an up-and-coming player receives accolades from the Heat’s team captain Jimmy Butler, Back in February, the five-time All-Star said he loves what he sees when it comes to Strus.
“What he does is shoot the ball,” Butler said, per NBA.com. “I’ve seen him do it every single day. I don’t care if somebody’s in front of you, if I pass you that bad baby, if Bam passes it, if you can get you a shot off, get you a shot off because that’s what you do, that’s your role on this team. And he’s really f’n good at it.”
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra also heaped praise on Strus and his work ethic, recalling when he powered through five different intense workouts in one day. Strus trained before shootaround, at shootaround, after shootaround, before the game, and then after the game.
“The five workouts thing is just me trying to stay ready,” Strus said. “I just do whatever it takes to keep putting in work and be the hardest worker and just always be ready for any opportunity to arise.”
Strus Started Out His NBA Career With the Chicago Bulls
Strus started out his NBA career as a two-way player with the Chicago Bulls in 2020. He played 13 games with the team’s G-League affiliate where he averaged 18.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. However, he only appeared in two NBA games before tearing his ACL and suffering a bone bruise on his left knee.
After Strus returned to full health, Chicago passed on re-signing Strus, which led him to inking a two-way contract with the Miami Heat. Due to COVID-19, the Heat’s G-League, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, wasn’t participating in the Orlando bubble, and Strus became a permanent part of the team’s roster by default. But he’s since proved it wasn’t a mistake.
On August 6, Heat president Riley gave a nod of confidence to the young baller after he signed his standard contract. “He stepped up when needed last season and produced,” Riley said. “His shooting and overall game is going to help our team immensely.”