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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Heat’s Haywood Highsmith Is Trying to Follow in PJ Tucker’s Footsteps

Even before PJ Tucker left the Miami Heat, teammate Haywood Highsmith wanted to be the next Tucker.

Now, in very real terms, Highsmith will likely have the opportunity to follow in Tucker’s footsteps.

With Tucker leaving for the Philadelphia 76ers in NBA free agency, Highsmith finds himself playing among the high stakes for the Heat’s summer-league team in Las Vegas.

“I have some abstract PJs,” Highsmith, 25, told the Sun Sentinel. “I’m very versatile on defense and I love playing defense like him. And we’re both kind of strong guys, can set up the screen, do small rolls, and come into the paint and make plays. So I guess it’s always been in me.

“I can be a power forward. Big like PJ, but I’m kind of tall, I would say. So I could see that I’m kind of a power forward. But I think Miami just makes sure It does a great job of doing that we have people that people can see and see for themselves.”

Neither Tucker nor Highsmith have the makings of a prototype power forward, a factor that has mattered little to coach Eric Spoelstra over the years with his position-less approach. Highsmith is listed at 6ft 7,220 pounds, Tucker at 6-5,245.

Highsmith, who dropped out of Division II Wheeling in 2014 and briefly spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers, said he was ready and prepared to upsize, perhaps relegated to Caleb Martin for minutes on four. To compete to be signed.

“In the G League, I was a five man every time and when we didn’t have five,” said Highsmith, who is on a partially guaranteed contract. “So I’ve protected tall guys. I just try to use my agility and try to get them hard and front in the post. I’ve protected tall guys, for sure. “

If nothing else, the ongoing summer experience will allow Highsmith to practice consistently against the heights in front of the team’s coaching staff. The Heat’s roster for the Las Vegas Summer League includes 6-11 Omar Yurtseven, 6-11 Orlando Robinson and 6-11 first-round pick Nikola Jovic.

“I have defended Omar many times in practice. I have guarded him in one,” said Highsmith, who joined the Heat in December on an emergency 10-day contract amid the team’s COVID outbreak and was then signed for the balance of the season to a standard contract in March . Replacing KZ Okpala. “So, I mean, protecting the big guys, that’s the next step for me as far as power is ahead.

“I think the power forward position these days, it’s all about versatility, switching on defense and shooting, which I feel I can do. I’m like 6-6, power forward 6-8 , 6-9. But I can see myself playing it in the right system that Miami has, like the system for PJ, Markieff [Morris]And they also had JE Crowder here.”

Of course, a key element in the 3-and-D equation is converging 3-pointers. Already, 5 of 12 have been respectable in three games at the California Classic in San Francisco, with the next opportunity coming up against the Boston Celtics’ summer roster on the UNLV campus on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern (NBA TV) Is. ,

“I think I’ve improved a lot as a 3-point shooter over the years,” Highsmith said, scoring 9 of 28 runs with the Heat this past season. “A lot of my summer training has always been about getting the shots, getting the repetitions, and things like that.

“I think once my feet are set, it’s a good shot for me. And not just corner three, but above-the-break, over the key, wherever.”

So far so good, said assistant coach Malik Allen, who is guiding the Heat summer roster.

“With him, hopefully, it’s not going to be 22 scores in a game. I want his defensive intensity and his lead on that end. And then his offense, be offensive.

“He has really long arms and a good nose for the ball. He is tough, competes. We just have to keep trying to find ways to get him into the offensive end of the field.”

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World Nation News Desk
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