Q: Everyone is hoping that Victor Oladipo can recapture his game. He certainly has had enough time. He may just never be the same. – Joel.
A: That certainly was among the most concerning aspects of the preseason. But since we’re not doctors, we have no way of knowing whether this is part of a rehab process that will lead to something more significant in terms of burst and athleticism, or whether this is the result of four seasons of battling injuries. To a degree, the training and medical staff might have a better sense of where this is headed than the coaching staff. But it no longer can be assumed that Victor Oladipo automatically plays ahead of Gabe Vincent. It could wind up being situational, which might have been the case for Erik Spoelstra, anyway.
Q: We have found our power forward. His name is Nikola Jovic. He can shoot the three, he can pass, he can handle the ball and he can rebound. He even seems to be picking up the defensive schemes the Heat want to use. He is a stat filler. He deserves to get regular minutes even if it is on the second unit. The Heat need to accelerate his development. He seems to have a high basketball IQ. Has he begun to change the minds of the Heat coaching staff? – David, Fort Lauderdale.
A: I would put it this way: he has encouraged the coaching staff. But while he clearly has a higher upside than others in the rotation, I’m still not sure the coaching staff won’t opt for the consistency and NBA-ready defense of Haywood Highsmith. With the East expected to be so competitive, I’m not sure you can afford to spot Nikola Jovic during this all-East four-game homestand that opens the Heat schedule.
Q: Your heart just goes out to Marcus Garrett. The kid worked so hard to get back from last year’s injury only to get injured again. Saw him play at Kansas. Smart, tough, mature player. Great defense. Is there any chance that he makes it back to the Heat to show what he can do when healthy, or is this it for him with the Heat? – Bernardo, Fort Lauderdale.
A: The fact that he will, for the second consecutive season, rehab at FTX Arena under the watch of the Heat certainly is encouraging. But, as it has been for two years now, when he gets back, he still needs to show that he can offer something on the offensive end. While his defensive skill set is elite, you can’t be 3-and-D without the three.