Miami HEAT two-way player Yante Maten is averaging 28.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game through his first four appearances in a Skyforce uniform, but Head Coach Nevada Smith insists it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the rookie.
“I wouldn’t call it a fast start,” said Smith. “He’s just out there doing what he’s always done. We’re asking him to play out of position, so I think it says a lot about him that he’s been able to adapt and find the success that he’s had. He goes out and works hard every night, and he’s been a huge part of the team’s success this season.”
Maten’s performance to this point in the season ties him with former Skyforce forward Brandon Hunter (2005-06) for the most points scored (112) through the team’s first four games of the season in franchise history. Yet, as Coach Smith mentions, Maten appears to be set up for sustained success.
Maten and Hunter share a number of similarities, but Hunter came to the Skyforce after a two-year stint in the NBA, and would never again get back to the league’s highest level. Maten, on the other hand, is using his time with the Skyforce as a springboard to bigger and better things. His hard work is paying off, and Skyforce fans have been the beneficiaries.
The former SEC Player of the Year flew under the radar at Georgia, where he earned First Team All-SEC honors in each of his last two seasons. Maten went undrafted before signing a Summer League deal with the HEAT, and while there, his hard work earned him a two-way contract. Now, after dominating in his NBA G League debut and leading the Skyforce to a 4-0 record in the opening week, Maten has officially put the league on notice.
If Maten is still, somehow, managing to fly under the radar, he won’t be for much longer.