Before the season started for the Miami Heat, head coach Erik Spoelstra stated to the media during training camp that this current roster is deeper than it was last season. While that may be true, it can be a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because the team is filled with talented players and young prospects ready to be molded to the “Heat Culture.” So why is it a curse? You can't feed every mouth or in this case, you can't showcase every player and have them involved.
With how the roster has played throughout the first 18 games of the season, fans have got the chance to see multiple various starting lineups and rotations from Miami. As it happens with every team, people get left out of the lineup. With the Heat, it's no different, especially when it comes to their young core. We'll be talking about which of those players should get more playing time.
There have been players that have taken full advantage of their playing time. The most obvious one is Miami's first-year sensation Jaime Jaquez Jr. who's fit right in to what Spoelstra wants to see from a player. Besides the obvious front-runners for rookie of the year like the San Antonio Spurs' Victor Wembanyama and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Chet Holmgren, Jaquez is right there with them.
One person that won't be mentioned is R.J. Hampton who has a lot of raw talent, but has been injured for most of the regular season. If he was healthy, he would get mentioned here, but he would have most likely found a way into the rotation. With that being said, here are the young players on the Heat that should and deserve more playing time.
Why Nikola Jovic deserves more playing time for the Heat
Nikola Jovic has been in the news recently after there was apparent “quotes” that he was frustrated about the lack of playing time with Miami. This was according to Serbian media that later was refuted by the player himself according to Wes Goldberg.
“I’m going to say it again, so you guys don’t need to translate it and nobody is going to make it up,” Jovic said. “Basically what I said, this team is playing great without me and minute-wise I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. This team is playing great, so there’s no point of even playing me right now. And I get it, I totally get it. So that was the first thing.”
Nikola Jovic just now clarified the statements made to Serbian media. Said the idea he’s being “misused” was taken out of context and the language translation didn’t help.
“I would never say anything like that.” pic.twitter.com/wYfTN8CMqP
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) November 27, 2023
Jovic has appeared in only three games this season, with the most recent being in last Saturday's game against the Brooklyn Nets where he played 17 minutes. Even with the team missing three starters Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks, he didn't play.
There's no doubt that Jovic is still raw in terms of his playing ability and how it can translate to the NBA, which could be one of the reasons Spoelstra hasn't played the Serbian star that much. With also being 20-years old, he is green compared to most of the roster.
However, one could argue that one of the best ways to develop is to throw him in the deep end and have him play meaningful minutes. Playing in the G-League, Jovic has averaged 16.7 points and five rebounds, even Heat star Jimmy Butler went to watch a Sioux Falls Sky Force game because of him.
It will be interesting to see how Spoelstra utilizes Jovic in the future, but there's no doubt he has the talent to be a good player in the NBA.
Why Jamal Cain deserves more playing time with the Heat
The Heat's Jamal Cain is an interesting player for the Heat as he's been a part of the organization since last season. He made the most of his opportunities in the preseason where he was very active on the glass and scoring in the paint. Cain is the type of player that Spoelstra likes as he's shown to be very physical.
He did see some time this regular season, most recently Tuesday in the loss to the Bucks as he played 11 minutes, only scoring five points. When it comes to the time he's spent with the G-League affiliate team for the Heat, he's averaged a whopping 26 points and 9.4 rebounds.
While a player like Jovic has played well in the G-League, Cain has absolutely dominated the competition, which is why we've seen him on the Heat bench ready to hear his name called. So why hasn't it been?
As said before, this current Heat team is deep, especially in Cain's position as a forward with players like Jaquez, Caleb Martin, and others. Like Jovic, it will be interesting to see how Spoelstra and the rest of the coaching staff use him as the 24-year old can develop into an impactful role player for Miami on both sides of the floor.
With the likes of Jimmy Butler, Haywood Highsmith, and others injured, the names of Jovic and Cain might hear their name called sooner rather than later. Only time will tell as the Heat's next game is Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers as they try to crack their three-game losing streak.