For the average third-string center in the NBA, seeing time on the court generally is rare. This has changed in the times of COVID-19, as any player on the bench has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
For the Miami Heat, this is their recurring theme as injuries and COVID-19 protocols placed coach Erik Spoelstra’s plans in a tailspin. Despite all this, some players who were not being looked at as major contributors are now thrust into the lineup.
In particular, one came through in a big way when his number was called upon on Sunday in Miami’s 93-83 win over the Orlando Magic.
After the game, Ömer Yurtseven was asked about his preparation and development in such an atypical scenario that saw that Heat lose two of their centers, thus thrusting the former Georgetown player into a something very different—being a starter.
Against Orlando, the 23-year-old looked like a grizzled veteran on many occasions as he contributed with the first double-double of his NBA career, with 16 points and 14 rebounds. The praise given to him due to that performance is due to the hard work that he, the coaching staff, and one of the team leaders have put in to make this moment possible.
Since his arrival to South Florida Heat assistant Malik Allen was one of the coaches looking to smooth Yurtseven’s rough edges.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Spoelstra compared Yurtseven’s training alongside Allen and team elder statesman Udonis Haslem seemed more like “cage fight”.
“Spo is the one that initiated that, put everything in place and we just went at it with UD,” said Yurtseven after the game.
“Malik is a bigger stronger guy and UD is. … I don’t know, super aggressive. Working with them, whenever I go up against another ‘big’, I know what I have to do to get all my boards.”
From ‘Crushing’ Yurtseven To Making Him Shine
When many start to question the importance of Udonis Haslem on this team, one has to look at what he did by taking the young center. The 41-year-old took him under his wing and is doing everything in his power to build him up and maximize his potential.
In the process, the 23-year-old totally understood the process and is growing in leaps and bounds, while showing tremendous maturity.
The Fruits Of His ‘Battles’
“It’s a luxury because he’s earned it because of his amazing development and mentorship coming from Malik (Allen) and UD every single day,” Spo emphasized postgame.
“They have been absolutely relentless, everybody else is chipping in as well, But both of them are able to drive him, push him and still infuse him with confidence. It’s a really tough balance to do with a young player.”
Even his teammates have noticed this and they all were just praising what his overall performance as well as an attitude built upon the foundational values of “Heat Culture”.
“It’s big. With players like Dedmon and Bam (Adebayo) getting hurt, those are big blows to the team,” said Caleb Martin ‘This says a lot about our program, our players, and our development. They come in and are ready once their name is called regardless if they have been playing all season or not.”