Heat Forward is given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and seizes it.


Heat Forward Lands a Long-Awaited Chance and Delivers

Even though he’s in his third season with the Miami Heat, KZ Okpala still feels like a rookie.

He’s only played in 48 games for Miami so far, and he’s mostly been a garbage-time player.

Furthermore, after missing summer league as a rookie, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented him — and many others — from playing in the summer of 2020 or the G League the following season.

As a result, some believe his greatest value will come as a trade piece for the Heat.

And they could be right if he isn’t getting the minutes he requires to develop.

For the 22-year-old so far this season, it’s been mostly the same.

However, with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo out, Okpala finally got his first extended playing time of the season on Monday in OKC.

He, too, seized the opportunity.

Okpala finished with eight points, seven rebounds, an assist, and a steal in 15 minutes on the court.

His coach couldn’t help but compliment his performance after the game.

Spoelstra on Okpala’s Night

Okapala has yet to establish himself as a legitimate NBA shooting threat, and his 3-of-9 (and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc) performance against the Thunder didn’t help matters.

What he was able to do, however, was demonstrate the abilities that have allowed him to stay on a contending roster for multiple seasons.

Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s coach, is eager to participate.

“KZ’s versatility defensively really helps,” Spoelstra said, according to the Miami Herald. “That’s ahead of the other aspects of his game while he’s developing all those other aspects.”

“Tonight, he was able to play to his strengths and gave us a huge boost.”

His minutes gave me a lot of confidence.”

While fans haven’t seen him much on the court recently, Spoelstra said the former second-round pick has been keeping himself busy behind the scenes.

He said, “He’s been putting in the time.”

“Everyone else on the road trip has had their chances, and KZ has finally had his, and he has taken advantage of it.”

He was all set.”

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