When the Heat takes a chance on a player who’s been coached by Frank Martin, Miami knows what it’s getting.
Martin, a Miami native, was Udonis Haslem’s high school coach at Miami High and Rodney McGruder’s college coach at Kansas State. The Heat hopes big man Chris Silva, who is on Miami’s summer league roster, is next in line.
“They’re cut from the same cloth,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said, with Silva coached by Martin on the college level at South Carolina. “They’re going to be tough, hard nosed, the ball is on the floor and they’re the first one to go get it.”
The 6-9, 234-pound Silva turned in a solid performance in the Heat’s 103-62 win over the Chinese National Team on Friday at the Thomas and Mack Center to open the Las Vegas summer league. He finished with four points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one block in 18 minutes of action.
Much like the other Martin-coached players the Heat has taken a chance on, Silva is known for his defense. He was the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2017-18 and was voted onto the SEC’s All-Defensive team in each of his final two seasons at South Carolina.
Silva, who turns 23 on Sept. 19, averaged 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks as a senior last season. He finished his South Carolina career with 1,509 career points, which ranks 10th in program history. He also ranks sixth in rebounds (876), third in free throws made (577) and sixth in blocked shots (186).
“I like to play defense. But I’m a both-ends-of-the-court player,” Silva said. “I can make something happen by rebounding and putting it back, by blocking shots and helping my teammates on defense.”
Even though Silva knew going undrafted was a possibility, he was still disappointed when his name wasn’t called in last month’s two-round draft.
“Where I come from, there’s only like one player that’s been to the league,” said Silva, who is from Gabon in Central Africa and began living in the United States as a 16-year-old. “For me to be drafted and see my whole country watching the draft and seeing my name called was a really big deal for me.”
But Silva feels like he’s found the next best thing in finding a summer home with the Heat.
“The culture and system,” Silva said. “When I came here and I started practicing, I felt like I was in South Carolina again because the principles are the same, the culture is the same, the way the coaches hold you accountable is the same. I feel like back home. When I had my workout, where I’m from is near the ocean, so I felt like it was being back home again.”
To find a longer-term home in Miami, the most realistic opportunity is as a two-way contract player because of the Heat’s salary-cap and roster situation.
“He’s bringing incredible amount of energy and toughness, and I love how he goes above the rim and gets rebounds with two hands,” Glass said. “That’s a unique skill set.”
▪ The Heat duo of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson combined for 37 points and 8-of-17 shooting on threes.
Herro, the Heat’s first-round pick, finished with 23 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-9 shooting on threes, four assists and three steals. He’s averaging 20.3 points, and shooting 11-of-30 on threes and 14-of-14 on free throws in three summer league games.
Robinson finished with 14 points and shot 4-of-8 on threes.
▪ Forward Nick Mayo, who played four seasons at Eastern Kentucky and ranked 10th in the nation in scoring last season, finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting for the Heat’s summer team.
▪ The Heat’s summer squad continues to play without 2019 second-round pick Stanford forward KZ Okpala, who is not part of the roster yet because of NBA rules that prevent Miami from completing — or discussing — his draft-night acquisition until Saturday. The expectation is that he’ll play for the Heat’s summer league team at some point in Las Vegas, possibly in the Heat’s next game Sunday, once his acquisition is finalized.
▪ Next up for the Heat is a Sunday game against the Jazz at 8 p.m. It will mark the second of Miami’s four opening-round games in Las Vegas.
After finishing the Sacramento summer league with a 3-0 record earlier this week, the Heat owns a perfect 4-0 summer league record this year.