The Heat Check podcast is now officially the Nigeria Check podcast—at least for this week.
In honor of Nigeria’s Miami Heat-fueled upset win of the United States on Saturday, we’re taking on a different identity this week to break down one of the most shocking upsets in the history of international basketball. Yes, it was only an exhibition, but Nigeria, with the help of three Heat players, beat an American team featuring the likes of Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and nearly a dozen other NBA All-Stars.
David Wilson and Anthony Chiang, the Miami Herald’s Heat and sort-of Nigeria basketball beat writer, break down the win, including point guard Gabe Vincent’s big shooting performance, forward Precious Achiuwa’s chances at a second-year breakthrough and small forward KZ Okpala’s defensive potential.
The big lesson: Nigeria won because it had three Miami players and the United States only had one.
Speaking of the Americans, Bam Adebayo is still figuring out exactly what is role will be for the United States in the 2020 Summer Olympics. The star post player is the most traditional center the United States has on its roster, which means he should get a chance to play a different sort of role than he typically does for the Heat. We also set the panic meter for the United States after back-to-back exhibition losses to Nigeria and Australia.
After our international-basketball check-in, we move on to some actual NBA topics, starting with Duncan Robinson’s impending free agency. The wing’s long-term future in Miami will be one of the toughest decisions the Heat has to make this offseason as he looks at a potential $70-million deal after a pair of breakthrough seasons in South Florida. It could be a lot of money, but Miami doesn’t like to let players it helped develop walk away for nothing.
As always, we wrap up by talking about some whale hunting and the whale this week is Kawhi Leonard. The Los Angeles Clippers’ star wing just had surgery to repair a partially torn right anterior cruciate ligament. Could it affect the future for the always-hard-to-read All-Star? It still seems like he’s going to stay with the Clippers, but you can never rule anything out with Leonard.