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Did the Miami HEAT Find Their Next G League Gem?

The Miami HEAT have done better than any organization at finding talent in the G League. Is Gabe Vincent their next find?

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The Miami HEAT have done the best job in the NBA of identifying talent in the G League. Of course, Duncan Robinson spent his first season on a two-way contract with the HEAT before being signed to a multi-year deal. Then, Kendrick Nunn, last year’s runner-up for Rookie of the Year, spent his first professional season on an Exhibit-10 contract with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the G League affiliate of Golden State.

On the last day of the season, he signed a three-year non-guaranteed deal with Miami, which has turned out to be a steal. Chris Silva has yet to make an impact in the NBA but was another steal for the HEAT.  Miami signed Silva as an undrafted rookie to an Exhibit-10 contract at the start of the 2019-20 season. After a strong training camp and preseason, that deal was converted to a two-way contract, and halfway through the season, he was converted to a standard deal.

Now, it looks like the HEAT may have found another gem in two-way player Gabe Vincent.

The UC Santa Barbra alum was a standout player for the Gauchos during his four seasons – but his junior campaign was cut short when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Over 32 games during his senior season, he averaged 12.8 points per game and was named to the Second Team All-Big West  Despite coming back and playing his senior season, Vincent was not 100%. Coming off his knee injury, he did not look fully recovered and was dealing with the mental recovery of coming off major knee surgery.

After going undrafted in 2018, he signed an Exhibit-10 contract with the Sacramento Kings and played his first professional season for Stockton, Sacramento’s G League affiliate. He played 25 games his first season with Stockton averaging 8.4 points per game. Despite being a year and a half removed from surgery, Vincent was still recovering from the injury and getting back his athleticism. Stockton monitored his minutes while he was still regaining strength and confidence in his knee.

In the summer of 2019, Vincent played for the Nigerian National team in the Olympics, where he averaged 18 minutes and 11.4 points per game over five games.  This was the first summer he was able to focus on basketball as opposed to rehabbing and was playing with great confidence.

He returned to the Stockton Kings for the 2019-20 season as a returning rights player, meaning he did not attend training camp with the Sacramento Kings or receive the Exhibit-10 bonus money that comes with spending 60 days with the G League team.

Finally fully healthy, Vincent was a different player. In 20 games for Stockton, he averaged 23.7 points per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from the three-point line. More than anything, he looked comfortable cutting, moving laterally and driving in traffic.

Despite only starting three of the 20 games, Vincent was making a name for himself and landing on NBA radars. Every year, the G League has its annual players showcase where every team congregates in one location and competes twice in front of NBA evaluators. During his last game at the showcase, Vincent left quite the impression by scoring 35 points against the Canton Charge while going 9-for-14 from the three-point line.

Two weeks later, the Miami HEAT signed Vincent to a two-way contract for the remainder of the season. Part of the roster when they made their run to the NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble, he impressed enough that Miami decided to re-sign him this offseason to another two-way contract.

What are the HEAT getting in Gabe Vincent? He is a 6-foot-3 combo guard who is best playing off the ball. A confident and aggressive shooter, Vincent spaces the floor in spot up situations and has the ability to screen as a secondary ball handler. Defensively, however, he is limited in terms of who he can switch onto but is pesky on the ball.

Crawling up into bigger players, Vincent is strong enough that you cannot drive through his chest. He will beat players to spots with his feet and not allow easy or straight-line drives. What attracted the HEAT most to him is that he is a competitor and a hardworker. Vincent is not the tallest or the most athletic, but there is no question that he plays the right way, works hard to improve and does what he needs to in order to contribute to winning.

In eight games played this season, Vincent has been inconsistent. Earlier this month he turned in back-to-back games where he scored 24 and 23 points against the Philadelphia 76ers, but the other six games he tallied in the single digits. Currently, he leads all two-way players in scoring averaging 9.0 points per game. While he is not going to lead the HEAT in scoring, he does provide them more guard depth and give them a player that head coach Erik Spoelstra is comfortable playing when they are in foul trouble or players get injured and have to sit games.

Vincent is a player that everyone can root for.  He isn’t the tallest, most athletic or most naturally talented – but he has gotten here because of his work ethic and ability to keep improving. Ultimately, though, Miami continues to find potential rotation players in the G League.

While some organizations either don’t scout the G League thoroughly or misuse their team as a developmental tool, the HEAT are doing it right as ever. The ability to find these players and sign them to cheap team friendly contract is what allows them to build the depth they have.

With the G League season set to start this month, rest assured that the Miami HEAT will be on the lookout for the next Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Chris Silva or, most-recently, Gabe Vincent.

Worked in college and professional basketball the past seven seasons, most recently as Director of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons G League Affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.

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