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How the 2023 NBA Finals rosters were built: Miami Heat

Take a closer look at how the Miami Heat assembled the roster that led them to their 7th NBA Finals appearance.

Jimmy Butler scores 28 points, powering the Heat's 103-84 win against the Celtics in Game 7 to clinch the franchise's 7th NBA Finals berth.

The Miami Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2020 after dominating a win-or-go-home Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.

The Heat have one of the most unique rosters to ever make the NBA Finals, featuring seven players that went undrafted. This team was built primarily through free agent signings – including key players in this playoff run that started on two-way contracts – as well as key draft picks and trades over the past few years. (And here’s a look at how the Nuggets built their Finals roster.)

NBA Draft

Bam Adebayo: 14th overall pick, 2017 NBA Draft

• Playoff stats: 35.6 mpg, 16.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.6 bpg, 49.2% FG, 79.7% FT in 18 games

The Heat selected the 6-foot-9 center-forward out of Kentucky with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft as that Wildcats team featured three lottery picks that draft. Adebayo averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds as a rookie, 8.9 points and 7.3 rebounds as a sophomore, before becoming a full-time starter in his third season with the Heat, which coincided with Miami’s Finals run in the bubble. It was also the first of four straight All-Defensive Second Team selections for Adebayo, a run that continued this season.

Bam Adebayo talks about his hot offensive night and Miami's overall performance after a Game 3 romp against the Celtics.

Tyler Herro: 13th overall pick, 2019 NBA Draft

• Playoff stats: 19.5 mpg, 12 ppg, 2 rpg, 2 apg, 1 bpg, 55.6% FG, 50% on 3-pointers in 1 game

Two years after selecting Adebayo out of Kentucky with the final lottery pick, the Heat selected guard Tyler Herro out of Kentucky with the second-to-last lottery pick (13th overall). After winning Kia Sixth Man of the Year honors last season, Herro ascended to a starter role this season, averaging 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 67 regular season games. His postseason was cut short as he suffered a broken hand in Miami’s first playoff game against Milwaukee. There are reports that Herro could return during the Finals, with Game 3 as a potential target, which would be Miami’s first home game in the series.

Nikola Jovic: 27th overall pick, 2022 NBA Draft

• Playoff stats: 2.1 mpg, 0.4 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 33.3% FG in 5 games

The Heat’s most recent first-round draft pick appeared in just 15 games during his rookie season, averaging 5.5 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per game. He has appeared in only five games during the postseason, with all of his minutes coming with the game already decided.


Best of Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler from the 2023 NBA Playoffs

Jimmy Butler: Trade with 76ers, Trail Blazers and Clippers on July 6, 2019

• Playoff stats: 39.3 mpg, 28.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.1 spg, 0.6 bpg. 48.3% FG, 35.6% on 3-pointers, 80.6% FT in 17 games

The Heat acquired Butler from Philadelphia as part of a four-game trade involving the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. Miami also received Meyers Leonard from Portland and cash considerations from LA, while sending Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, Hassan Whiteside to Portland, and a protected future first-round draft pick to LA on July 6, 2019. After spending his first six NBA seasons in Chicago, Butler spent the next two seasons in Minnesota and Philadelphia before finding a perfect fit with the Heat Culture in Miami. Butler, who has constantly elevated his play during the postseason during his four seasons in Miami, earned the Larry Bird Trophy as the Eastern Conference Finals Most Valuable Player but has his eyes set on a bigger prize.

Victor Oladipo: Trade with Rockets on March 25, 2021

• Playoff stats: 22.7 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg, 52.6% FG, 40% on 3-pointers, 33.3% FT in 2 games

The Heat acquired Oladipo from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first round draft pick swap on March 25, 2021. Oladipo’s time in Miami has been limited due to injury as he has appeared in 50 regular season games and 17 playoff games over the past two seasons. Oladipo was lost for the remainder of the 2023 postseason after suffering a knee injury late in Game 3 of the first-round matchup with Milwaukee.

Kyle Lowry: Trade with Raptors on Aug. 6, 2021

• Playoff stats: 25.2 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.7 bpg, 42.5% FG, 35.5% on 3-pointers 91.7% FT in 18 games

The Heat acquired the veteran point guard from the Raptors in exchange for Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic on August 6, 2021. Lowry brings a wealth of playoff experience to the Heat, as only Udonis Haslem (148) has appeared in more playoff games than Lowry (125). After starting all but 11 regular season games the past two seasons for the Heat, Lowry has transitioned to being a key player off the bench in 17 of the 18 games this postseason.

Two-Way Contracts

Best of Miami Heat players in the East Finals: Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Haywood Highsmith, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Cody Zeller, Kevin Love

Duncan Robinson: Signed two-way contract on July 10, 2018

• Playoff stats: 18.0 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.4 spg, 2.3 3pg, 46.9% FG, 44.6% on 3-pointers, 100% FT in 18 games

Robinson is the first of three vital players this postseason that joined the Heat on two-way contracts. Robinson went undrafted out of college in 2018, but signed a two-way contract with the Heat on July 10, 2018 and eventually signed a standard NBA contract on April 9, 2019. After being out of the rotation for much of the season, Robinson has stepped up in the absence of Herro and Oladipo this postseason.

Gabe Vincent: Signed two-way contract on Jan. 8, 2020

• Playoff stats: 31.2 mpg, 13.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 3.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.4 3pg, 40.8% FG, 39% on 3-pointers, 89.3% FT in 17 games

Vincent also went undrafted out of college in 2018 and came to the Heat on a two-way contract on Jan. 8, 2020. After playing sparingly during Miami’s Finals run in 2020, Vincent began to earn more minutes over the following two seasons. After starting half of his 68 games this regular season, Vincent has been a full-time starter in the playoffs, ranking fourth in scoring (13.1 ppg), third in assists (3.9 apg) and first in 3-pointers made (2.4 3pg) for Miami during this run to the Finals.

Caleb Martin: Signed two-way contract on Sept. 14, 2021

• Playoff stats: 30.7 mpg, 14.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.3 bpg, 2.2 3pg, 56.6% FGm 43.8% on 3-pointers, 81.8% FT in 18 games

Martin went undrafted out of college in 2019 and began his NBA career on a 10-day contact with the Charlotte Hornets that same year. That turned into a two-way contract, and eventually a multi-year deal with Charlotte. After being waived by the Hornets in 2021, he joined the Heat on a two-way contact in Sept. 2021 and had his contract converted to a standard deal in Feb. 2022 before re-signing with Miami in the summer. After averaging 9.6 points during the regular season, Martin has elevated his game in the playoffs, averaging 14.1 points on 57% shooting from the field and 44% on 3-pointers. During the East Finals against Boston, Martin averaged 19.3 points on 60% shooting from the field and 49% on 3-pointers while adding 6.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

Caleb Martin goes off for 26 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 68% from the field to help lead the Heat over the Celtics in Game 7.

Orlando Robinson: Signed two-way contract on Dec. 11, 2022

• Playoff stats: Players on two-way contracts are not eligible to play in the postseason

Robinson signed with the Heat on a two-way contract on Dec. 11, 2022. He appeared in 31 games for the Heat (3.7 ppg and 4.1 rpg in 13.6 mpg) and six games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (18.5 ppg and 7.7 rpg in 28.6 mpg).

Free Agency

Udonis Haslem: Signed as free agent on August 6, 2003

• Playoff stats: 2.5 mpg, 0 ppg, 1 rpg in 1 game played

This is Miami’s seventh NBA Finals appearance since 2006 – the most by any team in that span – and Haslem has been there for all of them. As part of a familiar refrain with this Heat roster, Haslem went undrafted out of college in 2002. After spending the 2002-03 season playing France, he signed with the Heat as a free agent on Aug. 6, 2003 and is closing out his 20th and final season with Miami.

Udonis Haslem reflects on his 20-year NBA career prior to playing in his final regular-season game with the Heat.

Max Strus: Signed as free agent on Nov. 30, 2020

• Playoff stats: 29.0 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.4 spg, 2.1 3pg, 45.2% FG, 35.9% on 3-pointers, 81% FT in 18 games

Strus went undrafted out of college in the 2019 but signed two-way contacts with Boston and Chicago, appearing in two games with the Bulls during the 2019-20 season before signing as a free agent with the Heat in Nov. 2020. The Heat converted him to a two-way player a month later and Strus eventually earned his standard NBA contact in August 2021. This season, Strus averaged career highs in points (11.5), rebounds (3.2). assists (2.1), steals (0.5) and minutes (28.4) while starting 33 of his 80 games during the regular season. He’s been a full-time starter in each of the past two playoffs, averaging 10.3 points on 45% shooting during this year’s Finals run.

Omer Yurtseven: Signed as free agent on May 14, 2021

• Playoff stats: 2.3 mpg, 0.4 ppg, 0.8 rpg, 33.3% FG in 5 games

Another Heat player that went undrafted out of college in 2020, Yurtseven signed his first contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder in October 2020 before being waived during training camp. He signed with the Heat as a free agent on May 14, 2021. After appearing in 56 games last season, Yurtseven has been limited to nine games this regular season and just five games during the playoffs in limited minutes.

Haywood Highsmith: Signed as free agent on Dec. 30, 2021

• Playoff stats: 9.7 mpg, 3.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.6 spg, 58.6% FG, 50% on 3-pointers, 66.7% Ft in 13 games

Highsmith is the third Heat player to go undrafted out of college in the 2018 NBA Draft, joining Robinson and Vincent. Highsmith signed with Philadelphia in Jan. 2019 and appeared in five games with the Sixers during the 2018-19 season before being waived. He signed his first 10-day contract with Miami in Dec. 2021 before earning a standard deal in March 2022. Highsmith appeared in 54 games with the Heat during the regular season, averaging 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 18 minutes per game. He’s appeared in 13 games during this Finals run, averaging just under 10 minutes per game.

Jamal Cain: Signed as free agent on July 15, 2022

• Playoff stats: Players on two-way contracts are not eligible to play in the postseason

 Miami’s most recent undrafted player from the 2022 draft class, Cain’s contract was converted to a two-way on July 15, 2022 and he split his time between the Heat (18 games, 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.3 minutes) and the Skyforce (15 games, 22.1 points and 9.1 rebounds in 33.5 minutes) this season.

Kevin Love: Signed as free agent on Feb. 20, 2023

• Playoff stats: 18.0 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.6 3pg, 37.9% FG, 36.8% on 3-pointers, 86.7% FT in 16 games

When Kevin Love’s contract was bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Heat signed the veteran forward as a free agent on Feb. 20, 2023. Love is one of three Miami players to win an NBA Title (2016 with Cleveland), joining Lowry (2019 with Toronto) and Haslem (2006, ’12, ’13 with Miami). Love averaged 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in just under 20 minutes per game in 21 regular season games with the Heat and has nearly matched those numbers in the postseason: 6.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in 18 minutes per game over 16 games.

Kevin Love discusses his journey and plans to contribute to Miami's championship aspirations.

Cody Zeller: Signed as free agent on Feb. 20, 2023

• Playoff stats: 9.2 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.2 bpg, 58.1% FG, 40% FT in 16 games

In addition to signing Love, the Heat also added veteran center Cody Zeller as a free agent on Feb. 20. Zeller averaged 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game in 15 games during the regular season. He’s appeared in 16 playoff games, averaging 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game.