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Gabe Vincent proves he belongs, so are the heat depth questions answered at the point guard?  – Denver Post

As the Miami Heat finalized their 2021-22 roster, coach Erik Spoelstra stepped in on the team’s last roster spot.

At the time, the deliberations were due to Jeff Teague’s Markieff Morris.

Spoelstra opted for Morris.

The biggest winner of this decision? No doubt Gabe Vincent.

For Morris, it was a season largely preempted by the 58 games he missed after his Nov. 8 fight with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

For Teague, there was no season, ultimately without a landing spot after playing a role in the 2021 NBA championship for the Milwaukee Bucks, ending last season as a regional scout for the Atlanta Hawks.

For Vincent, that paved the way for a rotational role as backup point guard for the Heat’s prized offseason acquisition Kyle Lowry.

It was an opportunity seized.

With Vincent now looking for more.

“I think I’ve shown that I can be a rotational player in this league,” he said this week, as the Heat cleaned out their lockers after being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals. “So obviously, yes, I would love to play every game. But even though I would love to play, that’s not always necessarily how games go.

Where there were once doubts about the depth of the playmaker, there is now the comfort of knowing that Vincent not only skillfully replaced Lowry during the regular season, while Lowry took care of a family emergency, but that the Heat went 6-2 with Vincent as the playoff starter.

At times, Vincent has also thrived playing alongside Lowry, with plans to strengthen their relationship this summer.

“I talked to Kyle a bit,” Vinceint said. “I’m supposed to be with him in the offseason.”

From the two-way Heat contracts in 2019-20 and 20-21 to a standard contract last season that also included a team option for next season, Vincent has arguably shown as much growth in versatility as anyone on the list.

Turning 26 in a week, Vincent said he still considered it a start.

“For me, it’s like a lot of our guys, when you look at all of that, how could I have done more and what more could I have done,” he said. “And for me, I just see there’s a lot of room for improvement and a lot of work to be done.

“So I’m looking forward to the offseason. I can’t wait to work and get back to the lab and try to come back next year with something different.

At times, amid Duncan Robinson’s struggles, Vincent was called upon to return to his old role as a 3-point specialist. At other times, it was to play as the main defensive scorer in the backcourt. And other times, to replicate what Lowry couldn’t deliver due to injury, illness or absence.

“It was interesting,” Vincent said. “I’ve worn a lot of hats this year. I would say so. So determining which hat is my best hat to wear may depend on who you ask I guess. But it was fun.

“And I would like to be valuable and be on the pitch as much as possible. So if it requires me to wear different hats, I’ll wear the right one to be on the pitch.

As it stands, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, from being part of Team Nigeria’s upset against Team USA at a pre-Olympic exhibition last July, to representing Nigeria at the Tokyo Games, to provide greater value than if the Heat had recycled a journeyman NBA point guard as a replacement for Lowry.

“It could be a real offseason to start,” he said with a smile of what’s to come. “I haven’t really stopped playing basketball in 12 months.”

Twelve months like no other in his career.

“It’s been a full year of basketball, more than ever before,” he said. “So that’s been fun.”


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