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One Single Attribute Changes the Game for Heat’s Two-Way Marcus Garrett
One Single Attribute Changes the Game for Heat’s Two-Way Marcus Garrett
May 22, 2024 11:43 PM

According to Adrian Wojnarowski this morning, the Miami Heat officially signed Summer League standout, Marcus Garrett, to a two-way contract. This was expected for some time now after his high level play in Las Vegas, but it was more about when the signing would come than if it would come.

And the unique thing about a Heat two-way deal is that they’re going to get plenty of reps on the real team. If injuries unfortunately happen, there are some roster spots at the bottom that aren’t true fillers. That means Garrett will be called up to bring his best and most comfortable skill to the table: defense.

So what has that really looked like up to this point?

Plenty of high level defenders trot their way through Summer League. Some are just quick and hounding on the ball. Others know how to navigate through screens off the ball. Or just a high IQ of how to defend at this level.

When evaluating the game of Garrett, there wasn’t one defensive weakness. Not one.

He can pressure ball-handlers baseline to baseline, can fight through screens like it’s nothing, and has better anticipation than plenty of guys in the NBA currently. On that end of the floor, he truly is special.

His ability to rack up a bunch of steals in the stat-sheet is the most interesting part about him. Not only is he forcing ball-handlers to give up the ball and relocate, but if they try and test him, he capitalizes. Pick pocket here, pick pocket there. And well, now he’s earned himself a nice two-way deal.

The offensive stuff is the part of his game that led to him landing in the undrafted market. You may be asking yourself: if he’s this great of a defender, why wasn’t he drafted? And my answer would be too many question marks for some teams to take a chance.

But what if I told you there’s one thing he can do to totally eliminate those question marks?

Before totally discussing that element, I should address his overall offensive usage. He got some on-ball reps in Vegas, and I had a couple different takeaways from those minutes.

For one, he’s never going to be a facilitating guard at the next level, and frankly, he won’t ever be asked to do that. He reads the game well for his age, but there isn’t enough fluidity to truly put him in a point guard slot, meaning he will play a bunch of two if he gets the chance.

And let me just say, slotting Garrett next to Tyler Herro off the bench when the roster spots become slim is not the worst back-up plan in the world. He fills every hole of Herro’s game in many ways.

Looking at the clips above, you see his ability to finish at the rim. That was something that came as a surprise to me, since I was curious about his driving capabilities, but there still seem to be some worries in that role.

If he gets to the rim, good things will happen. He’s creative enough to utilize smooth looking up and unders or a straight up shoulder to the mouth with his physicality, but I’m not so sure he will have the opportunity to get down there often. He took advantage of some match-ups for simple blow-bys, but that just won’t be the case if he’s plugged into a Heat system.

But there is one thing that will undoubtedly transfer over if he chooses to do so…

3 & D. That’s a term we hear often for plenty of one-dimensional shooters in this league. Keeping the role simple is always an indication for a 3 and D label, but that’s not quite the case for Garrett.

The reason that must be his role at the next level is due to them finding ways to keep him from being an offensive liability. Looking at past projects like KZ Okpala who were just dominant defensively, the offensive stuff never came together because there was no true role for him.

Okpala’s not an on-ball attacker. He’s not a fantastic finisher off the short roll. And well, the shooting never came along.

But if I’m Miami, I’m drilling outside shooting with Garrett on the offensive end and absolutely nothing else. In the first two clips above, the play is simple: spot-up three in the corner.

And that should be his Miami Heat role on the actual squad.

If he wants to be a part of the future rotation, that corner three must fall at a decent clip. With his defensive capabilities, he doesn’t need to be great on the offensive end. He just has to survive.

Saying that Okpala should become a 3 & D guy is quite an unrealistic expectation. But Garrett has shown enough flashes in a very small sample size to make me think it’s possible. And as much I don’t like him as an on-ball scorer, take a glance at the final clip above.

Two dribbles, pull-back, mid-range jumper. If that stuff came along out of nowhere, we’re talking about a completely different beast.

But for now, the Miami Heat have a very intriguing young prospect who has some undeniable strengths on the defensive end. And much like Erik Spoelstra did with Gabe Vincent last season, that ability makes me think Spo will trust Garrett frequently when he’s forced to get out there and play.

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