The Miami Heat‘s addition of Kyle Lowry was considered the best move in the NBA during free agency this summer, but plucking P.J. Tucker from the Milwaukee Bucks can’t be glossed over.
Tucker, who’s fresh off a title win with his former team, is 100% focused on bringing a championship to the Heat this season. While the 6-foot-5 veteran has averaged 6.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game since joining Miami’s roster, his stats only tell a fraction of what he delivers on the court.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
Tucker’s unselfish style of play perfectly mimics that of Heat’s core duo, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and he thrives on facilitating shots for his teammates. “If you want recognition, then my job isn’t a job for you,” Tucker said, as reported by Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman.
As for personal stats and accolades, “I don’t care,” the 36-year-old veteran said. “I don’t do highlights. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Heat’s sharpshooter Duncan Robinson backs up what Tucker is selling. “PJ is amazing. He doesn’t care about literally anything but that scoreboard and he’ll do whatever it takes to win, Robinson said. “I mean, he comes up to me and says, ‘My goal is to get you 15 threes.’ He’s just selfless like that.
“You see the way he competes on defense, rebounds. He just wins all those in-between areas, and he brings a certain level of toughness that I just think sets the tone every single game.”
Erik Spoelstra Calls Tucker a ‘Winning Player’
Tucker is not just a one-trick pony. In addition to providing stellar defense, during Miami’s 111-105 road win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday, Tucker scored 13 points with a team-high 11 rebounds.
While the intricacies of what Tucker does as a player may go unnoticed to the untrained eye, those little details are not lost on Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
“He’s just a winning player,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s probably the shame of it. To the average fan, unless we constantly educate people, no one will have any idea of how many things that he impacts.”
“You’ll notice it when he’s on the other team’s best player defensively,” Spoelstra continued. “But it’s the block-outs, it’s the rotations, it’s the protect-side defense, and then offensively just getting people open constantly. And he does it in every way possible, whether he’s screening pick-and-roll basketball or off-ball screening. He’s just elite in helping guys get open.”
Tucker Is a ‘Pro’s Pro. He’s a Man,’ Lowry Says
Like Robinson, six-time All-Star Lowry is loving playing alongside Tucker. “I mean Tuck is one of the hardest-playing guys in the NBA. He should always make All-Defensive team,” Lowry said.
“He’s a guy who has no letup… His intensity of how he plays, how he handles situations, how he handles guarding people, how he handles his communication is awesome. He’s a veteran’s veteran, and he’s a pro’s pro. He’s a man. You know what I mean? It’s tough not to want to go in the battlefield with him.”
One person who knew right away what Tucker’s talent could provide to the Heat’s roster, “The Godfather” — Pat Riley.
“He’s three times more than what I thought he was. He just is,” Riley said of Tucker last month. “If I wanted to put on a defensive clinic, I would probably use him as an example on how to close out, how to get in a stance, how to slide your feet, how to stay in a play when you’re beat, how to get over a pick, how to communicate and talk. These are just on the defensive end, and how to blitz, switch and those kind of things.”
As for Tucker’s talent on the offensive end, “He’s a heat-seeking missile,” Riley said.
READ NEXT: Heat Star Kyle Lowry’s Head Smashed by Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell [VIDEO]