Miami Heat's KZ Okpala Ready to Move Past Developmental Role

After spending last year in the G League, Miami Heat second-year forward KZ Okpala
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Miami Heat second-year forward KZ Okpala enjoyed his one season in the team’s developmental program.

Now, he’s ready to contribute.

The 6-foot-8 Okpala is in position to compete for more playing time this season.

“I’ve envisioned myself playing for so long,” Okpala said. “I think I’m ready to play. I’ve learned a lot … I’m 100 percent believe I am ready to play.”

Okpala was the Heat’s second-round pick in 2019 behind guard Tyler Herro. While Herro was in the rotation from the first day, the Heat were more patient with Okpala. He averaged just 1.4 points and one rebound in five games.

“I feel good in my development,” Okpala said. “I’ve gained a lot of experience and learning experience you can’t take for granted. I think I’m in a good situation. I’m thirsty.”

Okpala, who played at Stanford in college, gained most of that experience playing for the Heat’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls with the Sky Force. In 20 games, he averaged 11.7 points, seven rebounds and two assists. He felt the experience led to much improvement but is ready to become a major contributor for the Heat.

“You learn how to play,” Okpala said of his time in the G League. “You learn the G League is a much different game than college. I kind of got to see how my game will translate … I think it was very helpful and very beneficial.” 

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