Much-Maligned Heat Reserve Shines: ‘It Was a Matter of Time’

Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (right)

Getty Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (right)

In his first two seasons with the Miami Heat, guard Gabe Vincent did not exactly live up to his reputation as a knock-down 3-point shooter who could also serve as a decent playmaker. He only played nine games in the NBA as a rookie, making 22.2% of his 3s before he went down with a knee injury, and followed that up last year by making only 30.9% from the arc.

He has not been great this year, either, at 30.9% from the 3-point line, and has routinely drawn the ire of Heat fans, many of whom wonder what, exactly, Vincent is doing in the NBA, anyway.

On Thursday, he provided a glimpse of an answer, putting forth his best game in a Heat uniform when he went for 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-6 shooting from the 3-point line. Vincent, for all the negativity that has surrounded him from fans of the Heat, has been producing lately, having scored 13 points the previous night against Oklahoma City. He’s made 50% of his 3-pointers in his last three games, going 7-for-14.

Coach Erik Spoelstra pointed out that health has been an issue for Vincent, especially after undergoing knee surgery late in 2020. His recovery still hindered him last season.

But not now.

“I feel great,” Vincent said. “Obviously, I have been putting in a lot of work in on my game and it is nice that it is finally paying off under the big lights, but it was a matter of time. It was a matter of time. I don’t think I ever lost faith in who I was. I know who I have been my entire career and how I have been able to shoot the ball. So it’s nice to see it go in, and just a credit to the staff and my teammates for not losing faith in me, either.”

Vincent Filled in for Tyler Herro

Vincent filled in for Tyler Herro off the bench in the big win over Washington, which moved the Heat into first place in the Eastern Conference at 11-5.

Spoelstra said he has maintained faith in Vincent because he saw the work that he had been putting in, especially in the offseason. Vincent played for the Nigerian national team in the Tokyo Olympics, though he struggled (6.0 points, 25.0% shooting in three games).

Though Vincent has been disappointing as a shooter, statistically, Spoelstra said that is not how he sizes players up:

I never really get too much into the swing of whether the ball is going in. I see the work that he puts in, I know he is a great shooter and it is a matter of getting comfortable, and I think that’s what you are seeing. I think he is comfortable, I think our veteran guys are infusing confidence in our young guys and Gabe, and they’re able to be the best versions of themselves. And Gabe is also healthy this year. I don’t think it was really fair to really evaluate last year, he was just grinding. He gave us good minutes last year, but he wasn’t healthy coming off knee surgery and just trying to get his rhythm and get his strength and doing everything behind the scenes. He had a great summer this summer and I think you’re seeing the result of a lot of work and health.

Vincent Carved Out a Reputation as a Shooter

Vincent gained a reputation as a shooter back in college at California-Santa Barbara, where he made 37.6% of his 3-pointers in his career—a career that was also interrupted by knee surgery, in his junior season in 2017.

In the G League last season, Vincent made an incredible 4.3 3-pointers per game, tops in the league, and shot 40.4%. But that success has not translated to the NBA, at least not yet.

“My time in the G League, I was known for making 3s, but I was also a scorer,” Vincent said. “I scored in a number of ways. I think there’s opportunities where I get to showcase that as well, and also depending on who I am out there with, sometimes I am more of a facilitator, so like you said, it’s just the position I am put in, I get to showcase a little bit of everything.”

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