Miami Heat insider says he has ‘sneaking suspicion’ team will try to maximize Haywood Highsmith

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A Miami Heat insider believes that the team appears to be making a concerted effort to get the most out of Haywood Highsmith’s talents.

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel recently responded to a query about the Heat’s rotation for the upcoming season by focusing on Highsmith.

“While it might not be as a top-eight rotation player, I have a sneaking suspicion the Heat will attempt to maximize Haywood Highsmith,” Winderman wrote. “As one NBA scout told me, he was surprised by the strides Highsmith has already made from where the scout projected that Haywood would top out. In many ways, Highsmith could provide a sort of a P.J. Tucker Lite, with his build and 3-point shooting. The Heat had the ability to sign a replacement player in place of Haywood this summer, with Haywood due only a nominal guarantee, but the sense here is the Heat want to see if they can maximize this latest project. I’m not saying he will start or even get big minutes, but he will have a chance for a role.”

Highsmith first signed a 10-day contract last December with the Heat. That was followed by two more 10-day deals in February of this year. On March 8, he was officially signed to a standard deal by the Heat.

In his 19 regular season appearances for the Heat last season, Highsmith started one game and offered modest statistics. He then saw action in eight playoff games and tallied nine points, five rebounds and three assists while connecting on three of his five 3-point attempts.

As Winderman noted, the Heat had the opportunity to look elsewhere during the offseason, but chose to stick with Highsmith. The franchise has a reputation for being able to develop players that have been ignored by other teams.

Traveling the Long Road

Highsmith’s humble rise to the NBA began at Wheeling University in West Virginia. He was a fixture in the starting lineup during the final three years of his collegiate career.

In his 127 games with the Cardinals between 2014 and 2017, Highsmith averaged 15.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

Those numbers caught the attention of the Philadelphia 76ers, who signed Highsmith in January 2019. He played in only five games for the Sixers during the 2018-19 season.

Highsmith ended up being released by the 76ers multiple times, with the most recent time coming last September. He went on to play multiple games for the Sixers’ G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, prior to signing for the Heat.

In theory, all teams seek to get every ounce of ability out of the players that are part of their organizations. However, the Heat seem to have enjoyed much more success in their efforts over the years, which bodes well for Highsmith’s chances.

Given Highsmith’s long path to his current situation, the Heat are aware that it may be a while before their efforts bear any real fruit on the court. Yet, given their limited investment in the process, it’s certainly worth the time to find out what Highsmith can do to help them.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.