But, as with many of Hit’s development projects, the next question becomes how long he can continue to care.
For all of Heat’s development projects over the years, many have come with expiration dates, and Duncan Robinson has been the latest concern in that regard.
Previously, The Heat was featured on the verge of a special event with Derrick Jones Jr. and Chris Silva and even Tyler Johnson, among others.
So for all of Strus’s winnings, from a two-way player a year ago to booking most of last regular season to the start of the game, the most important thing in the end is his support going forward.
What could loom large is the kind of bonus received last summer by Duncan Robinson… or a fulcrum by coach Eric Spoelstra for the next man (or even back to Robinson).
All Strus realizes there must be more.
“I should be more complete,” Strauss said, realizing that the lifespan of 3-point Heat Specialists can be limited, as evidenced by Jason Capono’s Heat spells, James Jones and even Wayne Ellington. “Obviously the teams are going to force me into plays inside the arc. So I have to get better there. I think I jumped really fast as a player in this league.
“Our team didn’t have the result we wanted, but looking at the whole year I think I’ve had a very successful season personally. I’ve grown a lot and learned a lot. There are definitely areas for improvement. That’s exciting about this game, that’s what wants you to continue to thrive, is The challenges that come with it and the ways you can improve.”
This part is of course non-negotiable.
“You have to develop yourself as a complete player,” said Heat president Pat Riley. “You have to be able to go down a slope. Max should be able to go down the slope and finish now. You can’t go up a slope and put up choppy and missing poses. He has to be able to go down a slope and make a little pull-up and he has to do jogging.
“So, his game has to change a little bit and he knows it. And he will develop this.”
Where Strauss, 26, thinks big strides have been made in the side he probably jumped Robinson in the spin.
“I mean, I always thought I was strong on the defensive side,” he said. “But I think this year has proven it to other people. I think I’ve earned more respect and I’m earning more respect throughout the league as a better defender. And that’s not something that will go away.
“People are still trying to attack me. And I hope they do, because I think it gets them out of their rhythm and out of their attack. And I’m just proving over and over again that I can guard in this league and be a guy who can stop people.”
While a lot of hamstring strain was made for Kyle Lowy and Jimmy Butler’s soreness, Strus was also a staple in his post-season injury report, due to a hamstring strain. Through it all, he started all 18 matches.
So, are you wondering the heat for a year?
Or something more substantial?
“I mean when you look at it, the starting lineup, they put in one of my best defenders,” he said of where he stood at the end of the season in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. “So that has to be a personal achievement in itself, coming from this season and to be in the playoffs and start the series, I mean Marcus Smart was a goalkeeper and he was the best defensive player of the year. So that has to say something in and of itself that I did a good job. Kind of this year.
“But I have to find other ways to be more useful. And we all have to figure out ways to do that and be better next year.”