As the Miami Heat finalized their 2021-22 roster, coach Erik Spoelstra voted in favor of the team’s final roster.
At the time, the deliberations were in the hands of Markieff Morris of Jeff Teague.
Spoelstra chose Morris.
The biggest winner of that decision? Probably Gabe Vincent.
For Morris, it has been a season largely hampered by the 58 games he missed after his November 8 fight with the center of Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic.
For Teague, there was no season, ultimately without a landfall after playing a contributing role in the 2021 Milwaukee Bucks NBA Championship, finishing the past season as a regional scout for the Atlanta Hawks.
For Vincent, it opened a runway for a rotational role as a backup point guard for esteemed Heat off-season acquisition Kyle Lowry.
It was an opportunity seized.
Now Vincent is looking for more.
“I think I’ve shown I can be a rotating player in this league,” he said this week, as the Heat cleared their lockers after their Eastern Conference final elimination. “So, of course, yes, I would love to play every game. But as much as I’d like to play, that’s not always how the games go.”
Where there was previously doubt about depth at point guard, there is now the comfort of knowing that not only did Vincent ably fill in for Lowry during the regular season while Lowry dealt with a family emergency, but the Heat 7-1 with Vincent as the lead. playoff starter.
At times, Vincent also blossomed while playing alongside Lowry, with plans to further cement their relationship this summer.
“I talked to Kyle a little bit,” Vinceint said. “I would be with him in the off-season.”
From two-way Heat contracts in 2019-20 and ’20-21 to a standard contract last season that also included a team option for next season, Vincent has arguably shown as much growth in terms of versatility as anyone on the roster.
Vincent turned 26 within a week and said he still sees it as a start.
“For me I think it’s similar to a lot of our guys, if you look at it all, how I could have done more and what else I could have done,” he said. “And for me I just see that there is a lot of room for improvement and a lot of work to be done.
“So I’m looking forward to the low season. I’m looking forward to the grind and go back to the lab and try to come back next year with something different.”
Sometimes, amid Duncan Robinson’s struggles, Vincent was called upon to return to his previous role of three-point specialist. At other times it was to play as a defensive stopper in the backcourt. And yet other times, to reiterate what Lowry was unable to provide due to injury, illness or absence.
“It was interesting,” Vincent said. “I’ve worn a lot of hats this year. I would say so. So determining which hat is my best hat to wear can depend on who you ask, I guess. But it’s been fun.
“And I like to be valuable and be on the track as much as possible. So if that requires me to wear different hats, I’ll wear whatever hat it takes to be on the pitch.”
As it stands, it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, from being part of Team Nigeria’s upset of Team USA in a pre-Olympic exhibition last July, to representing Nigeria at the Tokyo Games, to offering more value. then when the Heat was recycled a journeyman NBA point guard as a backup to Lowry.
“It can be a real off-season at the beginning,” he said with a smile on what’s to come. “I haven’t really stopped playing basketball in 12 months.”
Twelve months like no other in his career.
“It’s been a full year of basketball, more than ever before,” he said. “So it was fun.”