Diamond in the Rough: Miami Heat discover next undrafted stud in Jamal Cain

Miami Heat forward Jamal Cain (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Miami Heat forward Jamal Cain (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /

It seems like every year, the Miami Heat manage to add firepower to the lineup by way of undrafted free agents. With an expert scouting department and the player development to match, Miami is a pipeline for young men whose talent has yet to be fully realized at an NBA level. Through the early returns of NBA preseason, it appears that the Heat have their next undrafted gem in the form of 6-foot-7 forward Jamal Cain.

A 23-year-old who spent five years in college, Jamal Cain was a four-year player at Marquette University before using his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer at Oakland University. He averaged a shade below a double-double of 20 points and 10 boards per game while asserting himself as a physical, two-way presence who wasn’t afraid to grind on and off the court. That made him a natural fit for Miami, which picked him up for Summer League coming out of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Cain scored 15, 19 and 15 in his last three preseason games while asserting his will on the boards and generating turnovers with his long reach. He’s a versatile player who can defend on the perimeter or compete in the paint. In the NBA, Cain should be a positive inside-out force who’s a threat to knock down triples or slash toward the basket with slippery finishing or explosive verticality. He’s been a positive force for the team in each matchup, earning himself one of the team’s two-way contracts in the process.

Jamal Cain is the next great success story from the Miami Heat scouting team

Don’t look now, but the Miami Heat currently have more undrafted players on their roster than not. These aren’t just training camp deals or 2-ways either – many of them played significant roles through the 2021-22 season into the Playoffs including Dewayne Dedmon (2013), Gabe Vincent (2018), Max Strus (2019), Caleb Martin (2019) and of course, the $90 million man, Duncan Robinson.

Not all of these players have been with the Heat from the beginning, but these players gravitate to South Beach frequently. Some might say it’s the culture of hard work, grit and tenacity that brings players with a chip on their shoulder. Inversely, it’s plausible that the Miami Heat prefer these players since they check their ego at the door and work for everything they have. Regardless of what brings undrafted players to Miami, it’s become synonymous with the team’s success.

The Heat weren’t active players in the 2022 offseason, allowing P.J. Tucker to walk for nothing while standing pat in the free-agent market. However, that doesn’t mean they let the summer pass them by and Jamal Cain is a testament to that. Finding players who fill positions of need and are willing to develop within the system keeps the system alive. He’s an impact player who’s one of the top candidates to have their deal transferred from a two-way to a full-time NBA deal by the time this season is done.

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Don’t be surprised if you hear the name Jamal Cain frequently this season.