The Time Has Come for McGruder
Photo Credit: Fernando Medina
While the three-headed monster of Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Brianté Weber have garnered a lot of attention thus far in Summer League, Rodney McGruder has certainly had his moments.
Now, his ultimate moment has become a reality.
On July 7, the shooting guard from Landover, MD signed a multi-year deal with the HEAT, marking the first time he’s had a long-term deal with an NBA squad.
“It’s a blessing, you know, just signing that piece of paper. Not too many guys are fortunate enough to sign that…, so just having that opportunity is just a blessing in itself,” McGruder said. “I’m just happy that they believe in me and that they made that commitment. I just got to keep working and try to improve my game.”
Although this is new territory for the Kansas State product, McGruder is no stranger to Miami’s way of doing things. The 24-year-old played on last year’s Summer League squad before re-upping with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and helping the team win the 2016 NBA D-League Championship.
The experience he gained with Skyforce head coach Dan Craig definitely aided him in his journey.
“It’s a mirror-image. The system that [the Skyforce] run is the same exact system that the HEAT run,” McGruder said. “And I even seen Coach Spo even say that we’re almost a mirror-image of them as well. That just goes to say how Dan Craig ran the organization, and he prepared us to get called up by the HEAT if that was to happen.”
As a member of the Skyforce this past season, McGruder shot 38.4 percent from distance and tallied a 98.8 defensive efficiency rating. In Summer League play, McGruder has shown flashes on both ends, running well off screens and being a tenacious defender.
In four games played in the Orlando Pro Summer League, McGruder averaged 10.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest on 53.3 percent shooting (43.8 percent from three). He then followed that up with an 18-point performance on Saturday night against the Mavericks in the first game of the Vegas slate.
When asked about what he could bring to the HEAT, McGruder quickly stated, “defense and three-point shooting.”
Based off what Summer League head coach Juwan Howard had to say about the young man, it seems like he will bring a whole lot more.
“He’s special. He’s a kid that plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor. He’s going to do everything that helps the team to win,” Howard said. “Very tough-nosed defender, excellent rebounder on the offensive end and defensive end, fierce competitor, can make an outside shot, extremely hard worker and he’s a totally pure guy with strong character. I’m just happy he’s a part of our family.”