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Shadow Heat is already getting a head start for summer and beyond (will it be the next Yurtseven?) – The Denver Post

The Shadow Heat are well aware of the unique group that came before them, the secret society of players stashed away by Pat Riley and the team’s development staff during the months when all other eyes were on the playoff stars of the NBA.

So before the Heat regulars take to the field for pre-game warm-ups for the past six weeks, and after those players leave filming, the Shadow Heat take turns.

It’s a little trick that Riley, Andy Elisburg, Adam Simon and Heat front office stalwarts have mastered for years, adding late-season players with an eye out for potential summer league breakouts.

Predecessors include Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Omer Yurtseven, all quietly turning behind-the-scenes work in May and June into career-raising summer league spots.

This time around, prospects such as Mychal Mulder, Javonte Smart and Haywood Highsmith have joined them, who will soon be in the limelight in the July summer leagues in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Robinson, for example, was converted to a standard contract in the last week of the 2018-19 season, under the control of the team from the first day of this offseason.

For Nunn, he was brought in on the last day of the 2018-19 season and then flourished in the summer of 2019.

And last season, it was Yurtseven who was signed the last week of the regular season and took over the 2021 NBA Summer Leagues.

“It’s about showing how to be ready and how to prepare,” said Yurtseven, who traveled last season with the Heat during the playoffs, just as Highsmith, Smart and Mulder have done this season, the last two being ineligible to play due to their two-way contracts.

Said Robinson, “I think it gives you invaluable experience, anytime you can make a playoff. Of course, that will help those guys.

With Highsmith (Philadelphia 76ers), Smart (Milwaukee Bucks) and Mulder (Golden State Warriors, Orlando) all with previous NBA experience, recent weeks have further honed the skill sets the Heat prospect can incorporate into the core. already in place.

All are under contract with the team for next season.

“It helps a lot, just to see how the guys prepare for the playoffs every day,” Smart said of the playoff run. “I’m with these guys every day. I talk to them every day. I work every day, I work on things I need to learn and I keep learning.

“Even though we have days off, they are not days off for me. Coaches really buy to improve us, to develop us, so that we can become the pros that we want to be.

For some Heat players with such end-of-season deals, the process ended at the Summer League, as was the case with Yante Maten in 2019.

So Mulder appreciates that all of this work is just prep work for when the Heat play their first summer games in the Warriors arena and then move on to the league’s summer league on campus at the UNLV.

“It’s a good time for us to improve,” Mulder said. “Individually it makes us so much better going into the summer. I’m really excited to have a good summer and to continue to improve.

Having been there, done that, Robinson and Yurtseven appreciate the dedication, with Yurtseven also joining in on some of the drills with the neophytes, unsure if he’ll be in the summer league as well.

Even though the Heat’s playoff run last year was limited to their four-game first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks, Yurtseven called the experience as much-needed as he thinks that extended run has been. been for the last hopes.

“I think it’s great to see the guys taking all the details. Because the regular season, I don’t think we get into that much detail,” he said.

“Any time you see the star guys being down to the smallest detail, regardless of the staff, I think that was the big takeaway for me. And I think that’s kind of what they see.

Having been through such preparatory work, Robinson said those weeks should prove invaluable.

“They’re just getting you ready for summer league,” Robinson said. “They prepare you to lead. They prepare you to be a staple of what they do in the summer league.


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