4 takeaways from Miami Heat’s first two Summer League games

Summer League
Miami Heat center Kel’el Ware has been an early Summer League standout. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat played their first two games of the California Classic on July 6-7 against the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, respectively. They will close their three-game showing inside San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, July 10, against the Los Angeles Lakers before traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., for the NBA 2K25 Summer League.

What were a few takeaways we had from the Heat’s first two games? Let’s dive into it!

1. The foundation from Kel’el Ware is there

The Heat’s No. 15 overall selection has been an early standout through their first two Summer League games. Ware posted 12 points, six rebounds and five blocks in the opener against Golden State and then followed up with 26 points and 11 boards on 12-of-21 shooting roughly 24 hours later against Sacramento.

Ware’s been much more effective rolling to the rim than spotting up from 3-point range, where he’s missed all five of his attempts thus far (with an inconsistent release). Miami’s offense didn’t flow as well Saturday, which didn’t grant Ware as many touches as on Sunday. But he did a great job establishing deep positioning in the post and rolling harder to the rim–instead of posting up–in his 26-point effort.

Using his 36.5-inch vertical and 9-foot-5 standing reach to their advantage, Miami’s guards also did a great job using him as a vertical spacer on multiple occasions when he was able to get downhill.

Ware’s motor, a predraft concern, has looked quite good. He was hustling on the (offensive) glass, running the floor and showed good disposition (with active hands) in the drop. All in all, it was a very encouraging two games for the 7-foot big. The tools are there–when the Heat’s strength-and-conditioning staff can pack weight on him in his core and lower half, the sky will be the limit for them.

2. Pelle Larsson’s impact goes beyond the box score

Pelle Larsson didn’t light up the box score, but his impact was felt virtually every second of the 41 minutes he was on the floor. Through two games, he’s averaged 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals on just 6-of-17 shooting and 2-of-5 from 3-point range. Miami’s No. 44 overall selection, however, has done all the little things asked of him.

He’s not willing to take charges. He’s also picking up opposing ballhandlers 94 feet and staying in front. Larsson’s navigated screens very well and has cut off driving angles; plus, he’s shown strong dexterity and anticipation on- and off-ball. Offensively, he’s attacking closeouts with force, barreling his shoulder into defenders and generating paint touches. He’s more than shown he can be a secondary creator with good decision-making with the rock in his hands.

The box score may not tell you it all, but Larsson’s shown he can do a little bit of everything in a limited sample.

3. Should Isaiah Stevens be the Heat’s next developmental guard?

I have, admittedly, been high on Stevens for a long time. He’s not the biggest guard, but he’s shifty and smart with excellent shooting touch. He won’t hijack an offense, but rather enhance it.

Through two games, the former Colorado State guard has averaged 8.5 points and four assists, having converted on seven of his nine shot attempts and three of his four 3s. The Heat offense flowed better on Sunday and Stevens–who started, finishing with 10 points and seven assists in the 16-point win–played an integral part in that.

Miami announced they signed Stevens to an Exhibit 10 contract on Saturday. Whether he bumps one of Keshad Johnson, Dru Smith or Zyon Pullin out of their two-ways or sticks in Sioux Falls waiting for a two-way or 10-day opportunity, there’s room for him to be one of their next developmental guards. Miami can work with what he provides as a lead guard, in my view.

4. It’s easy to see why the Heat was high on Keshad Johnson

Keshad Johnson had plenty of predraft questions offensively regarding his shooting and ball skills. He’s more than made up for any of those shortcomings defensively through two games; similar to what I got from his college tape, there are times when he looks like he’s in three different places at once! His defensive energy is contagious.

Oh, and he’s canned three of his eight triples while constantly cutting off-ball offensively. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to create an impact. It’s easy to see why he was the top player left on the Heat’s draft board after the second round concluded, even through an abbreviated sample.

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Alien

Perhaps Keshad Johnson can grow to replace Caleb Martin.

Bout30man

Hard to judge anything against the competition, but Ware has potential.
As an aside, I remember seeing Harold Minor playing rookie camp when they used to have it at FAU. Little did we know what adventures he was heading into.

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