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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Commentary: Heat impressed with steady Simien

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— Spectacular isn't a word thrown around often when people speak of Wayne Simien.

The Heat's first-round draft pick isn't the type of athlete who leaves one in awe.

After 15 days of summer-league play, however, the rookie has proved that spectacular isn't necessary to succeed in professional basketball.

The Heat completed summer-league play Wednesday, with Simien remaining one of the consistent bright spots on the squad. In seven games, the former Kansas University standout averaged 17.1 points and seven rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 78 percent from the foul line.

With a polished low-post game and a solid grasp of fundamentals, the 29th overall pick has impressed the Heat coaching staff.

"What's probably most impressive is just how solid and intelligent he is," Heat assistant coach and summer-league head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It feels like he's a seven-year veteran. You can tell he's been coached well over the years, and he's just got a really good poise about him and a real solid game."

It's that poise and polish that allowed Simien to keep up with fellow first-round pick Hakim Warrick in Wednesday's summer-league finale. Warrick, a freakish athlete with long limbs and a 6-foot-9 frame, had his way with Heat defenders at times, putting up 33 points on 14-of-23 shooting in Memphis' 94-87 win.

Quietly, though, Simien countered with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting on a Heat team that was missing guard Dorell Wright and forward Qyntel Woods.

It was a strong finish to a two-week span that saw Simien display a variety of skills for a 6-9 power forward.

On the low block, Simien can shoot a soft hook shot with either hand, and his go-to move in college was a turnaround jumper over his right shoulder. His shooting range extends to about 18 feet, which can help him fit into the Heat's plans quite nicely.

"He's got a real good duck-in post-up game," Spoelstra said. "You can run pick-and-rolls and duck him in on the weak side, get secondary post-ups for him. He's also got a really good pick-and-pop jumper that we weren't really expecting. We've been working on that a lot because, obviously, that's something we run with Dwyane Wade all the time."

Where Simien could stand to improve most is probably rebounding, where his 7.0 average in the summer league was a little lower than anticipated.

"We've been going for 15, 16 days, twice a day, so his legs are probably a little tired," Heat assistant coach Keith Askins said. "But . . . he competes hard, and the best part about him is he's a good kid who's willing to work."

Simien, who remains unsigned, said the summer-league experience helped him understand the Heat's basic philosophies. But there was one aspect of playing with the Heat that the team couldn't simulate: playing alongside Shaquille O'Neal.

If he wants to be a consistent contributor next season, he'll have to complement a dominant post-up player rather than be that player.

"Sometimes you definitely have to look to contribute in other ways, and I think this summer league will help me out in the upcoming season because I won't be asked to do a lot of the same things as far as scoring that I did in college," Simien said.

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