The Miami Heat have become one of the premier franchises for player development. If you are talking about teams that get the most out of their players, the Heat have to be part of the discussion. Look at their lineup, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo were two players the Heat were high on but were kind of raw lottery picks that have now become All-Star caliber players. Caleb Martin goes from an open tryout to a Heat starter. Undrafted Gabe Vincent is a serviceable backup point guard. Max Strus was almost out of the NBA and now has become a major rotation player and scored 22 points while grabbing 7 boards in the Heat’s season debut. Everywhere you look, you see a player overachieving.
Strus recently joined Heavy’s NBA Insider Sean Deveney for an interview where he talked a bit about his career, ending up with the Heat, and how the Heat have given him an opportunity to succeed.
Max Strus on Heat Culture
In his conversation with Deveney, Strus was asked, “You are part of a tradition in Miami, where they are able to find players who were overlooked by other teams and identify what they do well and get them to be good NBA players. Was that your experience in Miami?”
Strus in his comments, praised the coaching of Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra for giving players chances they might not get elsewhere and the unique trust they put in each player.
“Spo is one of the best coaches in the NBA. The best thing about him is he gives guys chances. He gives you an opportunity to play—he is willing to play anybody at any given time. Throughout the player development process, they really put in the time and effort to work with you and get to know you and make you the best possible basketball player you can be. And then, with that, they put you in games and trust you. If you put in the work and put in the time, they trust that you are ready to produce in an NBA game whenever they want to use you,” Strus told Deveney.
Strus, with his play, earned the starting spot previously held by Duncan Robinson. It was an interesting move for the Heat after signing Robinson to a 5-year $90 million contract extension. Strus noted that they put the players in that will give them the best chance to win regardless of differences in their contracts.
“They want to have the best team on the floor at all times. They’re willing to play anybody no matter what their contract situation is, no matter the person is drafted or undrafted. They take pride in finding the undrafted guy that can help teams win. It was a perfect situation for me,” Strus continued.
Udonis Haslem on Heat Culture
It’s the opportunities and chances given to undrafted players and their ability to find diamonds in the rough that gets praised so often for Miami. Udonis Haslem spoke very highly of that in his announcement that he will be returning for a 20th season in Miami. He gave the organization credit for saving him and other NBA players and helping turn their careers around.
“This ain’t no damn charity case. This is a sacrifice. I’m sacrificing for the next generation.
You know, as the bearer of Heat culture, I take it serious. It’s not a game. It’s not a joke. I know people talk about it. People, they may have this stigma on what it is and what it’s not. But it’s real. It is real.
The culture is real. The culture has saved very many guys, not just me.
When you look at these undrafted guys, these guys who were on their way out of the league and people didn’t believe in them and people didn’t give them an opportunity, the culture saved them. That’s why I come back. Because I’ve watched the culture save so many like it saved me,” Haslem shared.
Now, the Heat look to build on that and continue to get strong impacts from their stars as well as undrafted players getting opportunities like Strus, Martin, or players like Omer Yurtseven.