Barry Jackson

Miami Heat executive assesses team’s young prospects

Central Florida guard Matt Williams, center, is lifted by teammates and students at center court after UCF defeated Cincinnati in an NCAA college basketball game in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
Central Florida guard Matt Williams, center, is lifted by teammates and students at center court after UCF defeated Cincinnati in an NCAA college basketball game in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay) AP

In this piece this week, well-regarded Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer thoroughly discussed what the Heat can expect from rookie first-round pick Bam Adebayo.

Today, Kammerer addresses the Heat’s other developmental players:

• Power forward Jordan Mickey appears a strong favorite for one of two open roster spots (my take, not Kammerer’s).

With Mickey, who was taken 33rd by the Celtics in the 2015 draft, “we had him picked as a late first rounder,” Kammerer said.

“We thought he had potential. We’ve followed him. We like his athleticism. He’s a little undersized as far as height but has a plus eight wingspan.

“We like the fact he’s a natural shot blocker. [Erik Spoelstra] loves guys who can affect the game in the paint. He’s got vertical spacing and he’s got good feet and the potential to be a real good defender. He’s a good fit for our development staff to work with. I don’t think he has great range; it needs to improve with his size.”

• The Heat wants a long look at center A.J. Hammons, who was acquired in the Josh McRoberts salary dump with Dallas.

Two Western Conference scouts mentioned to me concerns about his work ethic or attitude.

“The ball is in A.J.’s court,” Kammerer said. “He has the basketball ability to be an NBA player. The question is will he take his level of commitment to a higher level. The light has to switch on and he has to take a step to make that happen to be a reality.

“You want to work with people who have potential to be a player and he can block shots, he can shoot, he can score in the paint. Our Heat culture is a perfect culture for him. It will be challenging for him. Demands on him will be good for him.”

• As for UCF shooting guard Matt Williams Jr., who shot 38.4 percent on three-pointers at UCF last season (126 conversions), Kammerer said: “He’s one of those guys who was a late bloomer. Nobody had him on any radar most of the season. You didn’t hear his name.

“Late in the year, he started putting up good numbers; against USF, he had 38. He’s 6-5 and as a shooter, he does two things we really like: he has deep range and a quick release. We love guys that can shoot the ball. He’s a guy worthy of the time [investment].”

If Williams doesn’t beat out Hammons for the final roster spot, Williams’ contract can be converted to a two-way deal that would send him to the Heat’s minor league team in South Dakota for most of the season.

• And what about point guard Derrick Walton Jr., whose two-way contract does not allow him to spend more than 45 days in the NBA this season?

He impressed the Heat at Michigan with his shooting, point guard skills and leadership, and Miami wanted a young point guard to develop after losing Briante Weber, who is a better defender but not as good a shooter.

“It’s very important at every level to have a solid, smart leader at point guard,” Kammerer said. “And we felt like with some of our young bigs, we wanted to make sure we had a solid guy, high character player - a guy who has shown leadership at the college level like he did with Michigan. How Michigan closed out last year [with a Big 10 tournament title] had a lot to do with him… We like his ability to shoot.”

The question with Walton, Kammerer said, is “can he take the next step to be an NBA player? We like some qualities.”

As far as areas for growth, Kammerer mentioned “playmaking, improving his game as far as defense, his ability to make others better. Those are things he needs to do” to be an NBA player eventually.

Here’s a look at most everything Pat Riley said at an interesting Friday news conference.... And if you missed it, here’s our scoop on the Marlins new ownership firing four prominent names.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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