Max Strus is the newest signed two-way player for the Miami Heat this season. Against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night, Strus was the first to come off the bench for them. He scored 19 points and two rebounds in 20 minutes for the Heat, with minimal play in the second half. He shot 7/11 from the field and 5/9 from three. Strus is on the up and coming as a reliable bench option for the Heat, which could be important if the Heat were involved in trade talks to bring in an extra star to their lineup.
Who is Max Strus? He is a native of the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Strus went to Lewis University, a Division 2 school. After succeeding there in his first two years, he transferred to DePaul University, a member of the Big East conference. In his senior season, Strus averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 37.4 minutes per game. He received NBA attention when he dropped 43 points against St. John’s University in the middle of his senior outing.
In the 2019 NBA draft, Strus went undrafted. But, he came out with a contract from the Boston Celtics. He played some in the offseason until he was released a few months later, losing his spot to Tacko Fall.
In October of 2019, he signed with his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls. There, he played two games and scored five total points. He played a majority of games for their G-league team, the Windy City Bulls. Strus impressed in the G-league, averaging 18.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in 13 games played. His season concluded after he tore his ACL in 2019.
In the summer of 2020, Strus picked up a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat and joined their summer camp squad. He impressed in the preseason games. Against the Toronto Raptors, Strus put up 22 points on 8/11 shooting and 6/8 from distance in just 22 minutes. The game before that, he put up 11 points, on ugly shooting (4/13), but showing himself on the team.
This year in the regular season, Strus has averaged 6.7 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists with the Heat. Strus is shooting 49.1% from the field, 38.6% from deep, and 60% from the charity stripe. His average stats are not impressive, but he has scored in double figures three times this season and has shot well from the field overall.
Strus is not the best defensive player. He is 6’5″ and 215 pounds. Strus is a smart player but is not the most athletic nor physical on defense. To further that point, he has recorded a -1.7 defensive box plus/minus this season with just 0.1 defensive win shares.
What makes Strus special?
Strus’s upside comes from head coach Erik Spoelstra’s system. His biggest strength is based on being an efficient catch and shoot-guard. The Heat love running guys like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson off of screens to catch and shoot three-point shots. Strus could become one of those guys. He is shooting near 40% from three this season and shot 36.3% from three in college. He has a quick release and is excellent at hustling on the floor, making him an ideal candidate to run off screens.
With the Miami Heat in the conversation for trade speculation for the deadline, they may have to give up some of their bench players. Guys like Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, Kendrick Nunn, and even Duncan Robinson have been in conversations for trades for guys like Bradley Beal. Whether or not they would be interested in adding another piece to their arsenal before the trade deadline, Max Strus could be the guy to come off the bench for them in the future.
Strus adds excellent depth because he fits the mold for a Miami Heat system player who can thrive in the offense. He has work to do on defense and overall efficiency to become a reliable bench option, but it is possible. He is an attractive player to keep around for a guy that is on a two-way contract.