C.J. McCollum says having a player like Udonis Haslem on your team is very important

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New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum believes that having a player like Udonis Haslem on an NBA team is very important.

Haslem, who has been with the Heat since the 2003-04 season, is one of the most respected leaders in the NBA, even though he is past his prime playing days.

The Heat have kept Haslem as a member of their roster for several seasons even though he doesn’t get a ton of action on the floor, but he’s a terrific mentor and leader for the young guys in the locker room.

Haslem is expected to retire following the 2022-23 season, but he has put together a tremendous NBA career. For his career, Haslem averages 7.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.3 blocks per game while shooting 48.9 percent from the field.

While Haslem has played sparingly for the Heat over the last few seasons, he’s already appeared in six games with this season, making one start, with the Heat dealing with a plethora of injuries.

The veteran forward hasn’t played in more than 16 games in a single season since the 2015-16 campaign, but McCollum clearly appreciates the veteran leadership that he brings to the Heat franchise.

A three-time champion, Haslem has a ton of experience in the NBA, and that knowledge has been vital in helping the Heat make the Eastern Conference Finals in two of the last three seasons.

McCollum, who is a season vet himself, is looking to lead a young New Orleans team to the playoffs this season. After being traded to the Pelicans during the 2021-22 campaign, McCollum helped New Orleans earn the No. 8 seed in the West.

The team was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, but it forced the Phoenix Suns to six games in its first-round series.

Some fans may not understand the importance of a player like Haslem, but it’s clear that other NBA players do.

Having a veteran who is an extension of the coaching staff and can hold his teammates accountable is extremely important to creating a culture the Heat have in Miami.

Hopefully, this year’s Heat team can make a deep playoff run to send Haslem out on a positive note in his final NBA season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.