When Omer Yurtseven hit the floor as the starting center in the Miami Heat‘s preseason opener, it felt like a preamble to a breakout campaign. The 24-year-old had shown flashes in the pivot when given the opportunity to do so last season, and his 11-point, nine-rebound effort on that night did little to dampen the growing enthusiasm surrounding him.
The same couldn’t be said for the ankle injury he incurred, however. Not only did that block him from rising up as Heat Nation had anticipated — it has prevented him from being on the court at all to this point in the NBA season. But that’s about to change.
As reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman and others, Yurtseven has finally been cleared by doctors to resume contact work after undergoing surgery on his ankle back in November.
Meanwhile, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra updated the Yurtseven situation on Monday, answering questions about the big man’s timeline and sharing his own reaction to the good news.
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Is Hyped for Omer Yurtseven’s Comeback
Speaking to reporters, Spoelstra confirmed that Yurtseven would be transitioning into his return-to-play ramp-up. He also made it clear that he’s over the moon about where things are headed.
“It is exciting, for him and for us,” Spoelstra declared.
Just how exciting is it? Well, over a 10-game stretch in December/January of last season — when Miami was being crushed by COVID-19 and Bam Adebayo was hurt — he put up 13.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest while shooting 54.5% from the field and 50% from deep.
If he’s able to bring 75-80% of that production to the team’s frontcourt, that in and of itself may be enough to alter Miami’s current trajectory in a positive way. Alas, there’s no telling when he’ll be ready/able to participate in actual games (and do so in a meaningful way).
Asked if a timetable for Yurtseven’s big return is in place, Spoelstra said: “No, there’s not. Because now you just have to see how his body responded to weight-bearing workload.”
Whether or not Yurtseven and Adebayo can porentially share the court in spurts is also unclear. And Spoelstra isn’t trying to make any kind of determination on such hypotheticals, either.
“I’m not even at that point right now. Omer’s not available on this road trip. This road trip has enough for me to focus on.”
The Lonely Road
For someone who was earmarked for a larger role and more minutes this season, Yurtseven has spent an incredible amount of time away from the team altogether. Spoelstra is of the belief that things had to play out that way for the best possible results, though.
“It’s a lonely time when you’re injured and you’re away from the team. And it’s made the most sense for him just to really focus on that, in Miami, in our facilities, when we’re on the road. But that is really tough,” Spoelstra said.
“There is probably nothing tougher for an athlete, from a mental and emotional standpoint. But he’s been diligent with his entire process, and this was the next planned step. So there weren’t setbacks, which was great.”