Miami Heat assistant coach issues strong message of support for struggling KZ Okpala

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Miami Heat assistant coach Malik Allen seems to be in KZ Okpala’s corner.

Allen, who is the head coach of Miami’s Summer League team, recently offered some strong words of support for the youngster amid his struggles.

“I think just offensively, he’s trying to do the right things,” Allen said. “Like the first game, I think he was trying to do a little too much. This game when he got his touches, he was trying to do the right thing. It’s a little bit different. His mind just seems like it’s moving very, very fast right now and the game is very fast because he’s trying to do everything that we’re asking him to do. That’s a credit to him. It’s not like we’re sitting here saying, ‘You’re shooting too much,’ or anything like that. I think he’s just pressing and trying to do the right thing too much instead of relaxing and letting the game come to him a little bit.”

Okpala has had a rough Summer League stint so far. In three games, he is averaging 6.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 22.2 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc.

In his most recent game, he scored just five points on 1-for-6 shooting while racking up three fouls and three turnovers in 25 minutes.

“He’s trying to do the right things right now, he is,” Allen continued. “The big thing is he’s defending and being active, and the offense will come. It will come.”

For any struggling player, it’s always nice to have someone who believes in you. Allen seems to be filling that role for the 22-year-old right now.

Okpala was selected in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft. He hasn’t seen tons of game action at the NBA level, but when he has, he hasn’t been very productive.

The Stanford University product averaged 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per game during the 2020-21 season. He made merely 37.5 percent of his shots from the field and 24.0 percent of his shots from deep.

Some fans have speculated about whether or not he is deserving of a roster spot. He is certainly hoping to end that debate as soon as possible. The potential is there for Okpala, but he needs to tap into it.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and has plenty of memories involving the Miami Heat. He expects there will be winning basketball in South Florida for years to come.