How much of an impression has Heat rookie Omer Yurtseven made in his short time as an NBA minutes-getter for Miami in recent weeks? Enough that it appears he has even passed veteran big man Dewayne Dedmon on the Heat depth chart, even when Bam Adebayo makes his return next week.
As good as Yurtseven had been since injuries and issues with COVID-19 forced him into the lineup back in early December, there was still a steady belief among those with the Heat that the rotation would normalize once Adebayo was healthy.
Adebayo went out with an injury to his thumb, which required surgery, on November 29, the last game of the month for the Heat. As other big men—Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker—also went down, Yurtseven got his chance, despite being just 23 and in his first full NBA season.
But there was a belief that Yurtseven would return to the end of the bench once the Heat were fully healthy. Now, according to team insider Ira Winderman, expect to see Yurtseven hang onto his spot in the rotation, ahead of vets like Dedmon.
Asked about his repeated belief that Dedmon would remain head of Yurtseven in the rotation, Winderman wrote:
Have to admit that Friday night, especially during the third quarter, doubt did creep into my mind. I’m not sure how, at this point, you can put a muzzle on that. The consistency has reached a degree that his numbers almost are an expectation. And you can see from alley-oops from Kyle Lowry and the passes from Jimmy Butler that teammates enjoy playing alongside and trust him. And with the way he has been passing, teammates also are getting a return on their investments.
Yurtseven Has 10-Plus Rebounds in 13 Straight Games
Yurtseven racked up 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists against the Hawks on Friday night, marking the 13th straight game he went for double-digit rebounds. In that stretch, he is averaging 10.8 points and 13.6 rebounds, showing a level of toughness and tenacity few thought he had in him.
Yurtseven said this week that he has been consulting with one of the toughest characters in Heat history, big man Alonzo Mourning, a vice president in the organization.
“He mentioned three big things today: Finishing around the rim; seeking every rebound; continuing [to defend correctly] in pick and rolls,” Yurtseven said, per the Miami Herald. “Those three are the anchors. He said, ‘You’ve done a great job rebounding the ball.’ That coming from him means a lot.”
Adebayo Could Be Back on Monday
Of course, Yurtseven has been thriving as a starter, but the Heat will only really be whole once they get Adebayo back. According to a report from ESPN, that could happen Monday.
“After right thumb surgery six weeks ago, Miami Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo is targeting a return vs. the Toronto Raptors on Monday, sources tell ESPN,” Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted on Friday. “Adebayo – who averages 18.7 points and 10.2 rebounds — has been ramping up on the court this week.”
Given the toughness and versatility that Yurtseven has shown, though, he still figures to get some serious minutes, and perhaps even time playing alongside Adebayo following his return to the floor.