How many players on the Miami Heat roster went undrafted?
Game 6 of the NBA Conference Finals between the Heat and the Celtics takes place tomorrow night in Miami at the FTX Arena.
We are so used to thinking that drafted players are the only ones that are worthy of being in the NBA. So often, teams go crazy trying to collect draft picks, and in the process, they get short-sighted and overlook other prospects. One team is trying to break this cycle, the Miami Heat.
There is something to be said about talent and the Miami Heat. This team has created a system that searches for hidden gems other teams have overlooked. In 2002, one of Miami’s most beloved players went undrafted, and the Heat gave him the opportunity. Udonis Haslem is now 42 and has been with the team for over two decades.
“I think organizations are doing a better job of doing their homework and not just assuming, because a guy didn’t get drafted, that he can’t help you win,” Haslem said when asked about his career and the change that Miami gave him at NBA stardom. “You can’t measure character or discipline or accountability at the draft combine, and a lot of those things sometimes get overlooked.” The power forward gives a clear example of what scouts and experts overlook when drafting players.
But how many undrafted players do the Miami Heat have?
This season they have a total of 9 undrafted players. Out of those 7 are on the starting roster, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Udonis Haslem, Haywood Highsmith, and Omer Yurtseven.
When asked about the policy of signing guys that others don’t think are NBA caliber Heat’sHeat’s coach Erik Spoelstra said, “If you have a big dream and want to be challenged, we feel like this can be the place for a lot of those kinds of guys.”
Undrafted guys know the grind and what it is to be set aside and not believed in. These guys are the first ones at practice and the last ones to leave. Coach Joe Pasternack recalls a story when he got to the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The first call I got,” Pasternack said, " was from Gabe Vincent saying: ‘’Coach, tell me what you need me to do. Do you need me to call the players? Set up a team meeting?’’ That left an impression.” Gabe was coming from rehab after damaging his anterior ligament, and one can only think of what he went through as his dreams faded away.
Now the Miami Heat is capitalizing not on the talent that is given but on the one that is earned with sweat, heart, and love for the game. It helps when the one running the show is Pat Riley.