Las Vegas Summer League could be proving ground for Nikola Jovic, Miami Heat’s 19-year-old draft choice

The Miami Heat will open NBA 2K23 Summer League tonight, one of the team’s five games in Las Vegas.

The Summer League affords younger players the opportunity to continue their development into NBA regulars during the offseason while club executives watch from afar. This year’s team will be coached by Miami Heat assistant coach Malik Allen.

Of greater note, the Heat’s run in Las Vegas will give Miami fans a chance to see first-round pick Nikola Jovic in action. Jovic, selected No. 27 overall at the NBA Draft last month, joined his teammates for Summer League practices on June 30. While the organization doesn’t know where he might fit in yet, the immediate competition against NBA talent will be beneficial.

A 6-foot-10 small forward, Jovic is only 19 years old and was born in England before he moved to Serbia when he was nine. He played for for the Mega Basket in the Serbian league, where he averaged 11.7 points on 43% shooting last year. Whether or not Jovic will play meaningful minutes this year is questionable, especially given the expectations this Heat team will have. But Miami is certainly willing to wait it out and let him develop.

“That is something that we’re not going to worry about yet,” said Pat Riley, Miami Heat’s president, when asked about Jovic getting minutes in the regular rotation. “The whole concept is that he’s here, and we get him ready for the summer league.”

According to Riley, one of the reasons they selected Jovic is because he’s a complete player. Jovic himself said he doesn’t necessarily attribute himself to one position; he can play all positions on the floor and is optimistic to do so.

Riley said Jovic is someone who can “pass, play the pick and roll, somebody who can dribble, someone who has the mid-range and the long range.” Riley is ambitious about the type of player that Jovic can become, but also realizes that it’s ultimately dependent on how far Jovic’s skillset can go in the toughest league in the world.

The Heat was on the verge of advancing to the NBA Finals before losing Game 7 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals in May. With how close the team was to a championship, this summer’s draft and free agency period might help to determine whether or not the Heat can contend again in the ultra-talented East.

“I think it’s a perfect fit for me,” Jovic said, when asked about the winning culture that Miami has created. “I’ll do anything that I can to help them do better than they did this year.”

Reiterating after the draft that he’s ready to “work hard,” Jovic will be able to present that work ethic to fans in Las Vegas. And all the while, Allen will have the opportunity to create roles for Jovic that would best suit him.

Ivo Caminata is an Argentinian-American journalism student and intends to pursue a career as a multimedia journalist. In his work, he attempts to merge his passion for writing and video editing. Caminata currently works as a writer for Caplin News where he is hoping to talk about sports in a new and enlightening way.