Ahead of the 2017-18 season, the NBA created an updated roster change that you could argue has benefitted the Miami HEAT more than any other team in the Association.
That was the addition of the two-way player. Each NBA team is allowed to have two players with under four years of NBA experience as a two-way player.
For the Skyforce, it has been an opportunity to help develop players who eventually play on the biggest stage, like Duncan Robinson in the 2020 NBA Finals, or Gabe Vincent in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
Other two-way players the HEAT have featured since the formation are: Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Chris Silva and Derrick Jones, Jr., all who played in the NBA in the last season.
This process didn’t start over night. It has taken commitment, trust, patience and the ability to identify potential and talent.
“Right when it (two-way players) started, we looked at it as an opportunity to add two extra players and really hone in on development,” Miami HEAT Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager Adam Simon said.
The HEAT has shown they can develop two-way players in different avenues. Not just the traditional post-draft accusations.
“We have shown we can find players in different ways, whether that is someone around (NBA) Draft time, or a player during the season,” Simon said. You have players that get drafted with the intent to become two-way players. There are some that are undrafted, as well. Some earn them during the Summer League, like Duncan Robinson.
There are also the opportunities to battle it out during the summer, like Marcus Garrett did last season. Gabe Vincent earned a two-way spot with us while playing with another G League team. You just have to look at what is needed on your roster and go from there.”
Last season, Miami was able to two-way Martin, who ended up signing a standard contract to become playoff eligible and eventually signed an extension with the HEAT in the offseason.
“That is another way it helps,” Simon noted. “We try to find the ones that our coaches will be able to use with the HEAT. A lot of guys in that situation are banking on themselves to prove they belong. Every situation is different, and we adjust to the way our roster is set up.”
What exactly are Simon and the HEAT seeking in a potential two-way player?
“We are looking for a specific skillset that can convert at the NBA level,” he said. “Someone who will be a hard worker and have a desire to put in the time to develop that skillset.
”You hope anyone that you bring in will have that fire in their stomach. The Skyforce is what helps us decide what it takes to make it at the next level. They are the ones that help show which guys are going to be in a better position to help the HEAT.”
With the skillset comes patience. Bottom line, most two-way players need some polish to become NBA contributors.
“Nobody becomes better in a single game,” Simon noted. “Development is over the course of a season, then the offseason, that leads into Summer League, and after that more development more time spent before the preseason starts. It really is a year-round cycle.”
It is easy to look back and reminisce on the success, but for the Skyforce and HEAT, the focus remains on the future.
“The expectations and pressures for the personnel staff remains, to be able to hopefully find more players that our coaches like,” Simon said. “I think just as much as it is for the players that develop all year long. The scouting staff is working year-round to find players that can fit in to our development program.”