The Miami Heat seem to have a diamond in the rough in Nikola Jovic, the player they drafted with the No. 27 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The 19-year-old Serbian turned a lot of heads while playing in Europe. Naturally, some people across the league are curious to see if he can also find success in the NBA.
Jovic had an opportunity to prove that he belongs in the big league in the Heat’s Summer League match versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. He was given a spot in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, the 6-foot-10 forward had a rough Summer League debut, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Even so, Heat assistant coach Malik Allen stated that Jovic had some bright moments in the game and showed good effort.
“I know he wanted to play better,” Allen said. “I think it was kind of a typical rookie’s first game. I think the game was moving a little fast at times, but he did make a couple good plays. He put the ball on the ground and made some passes. Like I said, he’s got a good feel for it. I just think it was moving really fast. I told him just to keep his head up. He was frustrated. But I thought his effort was good.”
It was not only Jovic who played badly against the Lakers on Saturday. Miami was routed 100-66, with only three players scoring more than 10 points.
Still, the experience and playing time can help Jovic learn the ropes and improve his play. After all, it is unclear if he will even see some action on the court once the regular season starts because the Heat already have several players ahead of him in the rotation.
In addition, Miami is expected to be a title contender again, which would likely require the team to lean on its veterans for much of the 2022-23 season.