Solid Summer League keeps Janks in mix for Miami

Before we get started today, I just want everyone to know that this column has been fully vetted for plagiarism and is protected with an invisible watermark.

So don’t even think about it.

Originality has been a big talking point over the past 48 hours, but everyone in the NBA’s Summer League has also been doing their best to be original and stand out among the masses. Other than the already highly touted rookies like Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and Buddy Hield, most of the young players are simply trying to get noticed and make a roster.

Having gone undrafted, Stefan Jankovic has accomplished that to this point. While it seemed that his road to the NBA may still require a few additional stops on his already extensive travel ledger, Janks has certainly done enough to keep the Miami Heat interested as the team heads towards training camp.

Last year’s Big West Player of the Year for Hawaii’s best team in program history, Jankovic has made a strong impression in some extended appearances. He started off hot, scoring 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting in his debut. Subsequent games saw other Heat players get longer looks, but Janks scored in double figures again in two of his final three appearances. Overall, he averaged over seven points in 14 minutes a game, shot 44 percent from the floor, 33 percent from three-point range and 79 percent from the foul line.

His efforts were enough to earn a two-year deal with the Heat, though barely any of the contract is guaranteed. It basically keeps him with the organization for now so they can continue to evaluate his game.

Miami signed a few frontcourt veterans like Derrick Williams, James Johnson and Luke Babbitt this offseason. Aside from injury, there’s almost no scenario that would move Jankovic ahead of those guys. As long as he continues to appear competitive in workouts and preseason action, he’ll almost certainly head to the D-League.

That’s probably the best-case scenario for not only his development, but his chances at eventually becoming an NBA rotation player. I absolutely think Jankovic has that potential, especially the way the game is currently played. Nobody the Heat brought in after losing Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson is a true building block. And if Chris Bosh is unable to play, Miami will have instantly gone from being within one game of the Conference Finals to complete rebuild mode.

That gives Jankovic every reason to believe the Heat are a fantastic opportunity for him to catch on. Miami has been vocal of their admiration for him prior to draft night and signing him to a contract proves that wasn’t just hot air.

Many talented players never get their shot because they bounce around in the D-League without finding that one team that believes in them. There’s a lot of this story still to be written, but Miami seems to be displaying that sense of belief in Jankovic. He’ll already be 23 in a couple weeks, so the time to remain diligent is right now.

Hopefully Janks gets to keep showing what he can do. Everything he’s said and done to this point makes me believe he’ll be on an NBA roster this year or next. Even if that ends up not being with the Heat, he’s put himself in as good a position as an undrafted rookie can.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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