Can Rodney McGruder make the Miami Heat roster?

Rodney McGruder is impressing this preseason in his battle for the final spot on the Miami Heat roster – will he make it?

The Miami Heat’s 2016-17 preseason has seen a host of new faces battle for playing time and a spot in the rotation for the upcoming regular season. Many of these players would be familiar to Heat fans as they have seen each of them battle against the Heat over a number of years. One completely unfamiliar face though is that of Rodney McGruder. And that is primarily because he was both undrafted and yet to play an NBA game.

McGruder went undrafted in 2013. After playing a season in Hungary, McGruder has played the last two seasons in the D-League. Last season was spent with the Heat’s affiliate Sioux Falls Skyforce, where he averaged 15.8 points per game and 5.3 rebounds. He shot 51.3 percent from the field including 38.4 percent from three-point range. These contributions helped the Skyforce triumph and win the D-League title.

McGruder certainly has the backing of last season’s Skyforce coach and now Heat assistant, Dan Craig. Earlier this year, Craig noted, “….we know when he gets out on the court, we know what he brings every night. I believe he’s an NBA player.”

The Heat players also have a liking for McGruder. Having spent some last season in the D-League with McGruder, injured guard Josh Richardson stated, “Rodney’s as tough as they come….he plays hard every minutes he’s on the floor.”

McGruder himself was much more modest when describing his role for the Heat. “Defense and three-point shooting.” Whilst that sounds very simplistic, it certainly entails two of the areas that Miami have focused on leading into the 2016-17 season. Along with pushing the pace and swift ball movement, these two traits have been high on the agenda through six preseason games.

McGruder represents a great option for the Heat, and the modern day NBA as a whole. A 6-foot-4 athletic guard who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Having spent the first four preseason games averaging just 10 minutes per game, McGruder has made the most of increased playing time in his two most recent games. McGruder scored 15 points on 5-of-9 from downtown in a loss to the Spurs. This included hitting his first four attempts from three.

And in his latest outing, McGruder produced eight points in 23 minutes. He was also an exceptional +29 whilst on the court. McGruder certainly has much to offer the Heat.

However, despite the departure of Dwayne Wade, the current timing may not be ideal for McGruder. The Heat brought in shooting guards Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington in the off-season. Talented backup Tyler Johnson and the aforementioned Richardson are also in the backcourt rotation.

McGruder is currently playing on a partially-guaranteed contract. And with the 15 guaranteed contracts already in place, his odds for making the final roster are long. However, according to Spoelstra, the Heat are thinking about him for the regular season roster.

Whether he makes the team or not, these most recent performances may ensure his future in the NBA, and possibly the Heat, is not far away.

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