Unless you’re an NBA fanatic, you’re probably not familiar with Omer Yurtseven… for the time being
Yurtseven, a 24-year-old big man, is in his second season in the NBA. After playing three college seasons — two at NC State and one at Georgetown — he went undrafted in 2020, but signed an Exhibit 10 contract with Oklahoma City before the 2020-21 season. Yurtseven averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game with the OKC Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, during that season, and caught the attention of decision-makers at the next level, particularly in South Beach.
Yurtseven signed a deal with the Miami Heat before the end of the season in May 2021, and he signed a standard multi-year contract with the team before the 2021-22 season.
Though he hadn’t yet earned a spot in the Heat’s rotation, the rookie big man stepped up last winter when Miami needed him the most.
His coming out party was on Dec. 26 against the Orlando Magic, a night where he scored 16 points and collected 15 rebounds in 33 minutes — the first double-double of his career.
Yurtseven nearly averaged a double-double (10.6 points, 9.9 rebounds) in over 22 minutes per game in January 2022. That stretch included a 22-point, 16-rebound performance in Sacramento and, most impressively, a matchup with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, in which Yurtseven produced 22 points and 11 rebounds in a starting role for his eighth double-double in ten games.
Yurtseven only received spot minutes following that contest, in both the regular season and the playoffs. That winter stretch, on the other hand, taught him a lot about NBA big men.
“Going up against bigs like Joel Embiid, [Jusuf] Nurkic — those heavy hitters taught me that I need to be stronger,” Yurtseven said over the phone to Basketball News. “That’s the best part about basketball: there are no limits to what you can achieve if you keep working and believing.”
“I realized I needed to bulk up. However, you cannot ignore agility because you must also keep up with the skinnier and faster bigs. When I was playing against Embiid, I think I made it difficult for him by contesting shots. But I know I’m capable of being stronger.
The highlights of Yurtseven are impressive. He moves well without the ball, gets up and down the floor, screens and rebounds well, and shows good mid-post and rim moves.
His playstyle is somewhat retro. Despite the fact that he is aware that the game is becoming more perimeter-oriented than ever, he only attempted 11 three-pointers last season. Yurtseven leans on the most natural aspects of his game, standing 7-foot tall, being an active rebounder, and performing best when catching the ball on the block.
When asked about his first NBA season, he says he learned a lot and that there is still room for improvement.
“Last year was basically my rookie year, and that was my first time against Embiid, and that was my first start last year, and that was my first double-double,” Yurtseven explained. “So, it’s all something I’ve done before this year, and I’ll be better prepared knowing what I’ll face and the ups and downs.”
Looking ahead is a natural part of professional sports, and Yurtseven is no exception; speaking with him, it’s clear that he’s excited about what’s ahead, and he’s set many goals for himself in the near future.
“No. 1 will be a rotational player throughout training camp and the season. “I need to be in the best shape I can to do that, which I am [currently],” Yurtseven explained. “It’s been a struggle to reduce body fat while increasing weight. But it happens all the time. I’ve been doing it nonstop for the past four years.”
Yurtseven’s success this season will be determined by how well the lineups in which he is featured perform. Knowing that each play has the potential to impact his future, and that legends like coach Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley are directly involved, would frighten most of us, but Yurtseven is unfazed.
“It’s more exciting than anything else because every day presents a new challenge,” Yurtseven explained. “They expect a lot from you, but that demonstrates their faith.” That is what many players get wrong. They will be disappointed because they believe Coach is yelling at them. Alternatively, they can say, ‘He believes in me and knows and desires the extra edge that he knows I can provide.'”
Every NBA team has a strength and conditioning program, but none is more well-known than Miami’s, which has resulted in some seriously impressive transformations (Notably, former guard Dion Waiters, who was in good-but-not great shape before joining the Heat, sporting six-pack abs after landing in Miami.)
And, despite the perilous preparation, it’s all part of Spoelstra’s strategy to be better prepared to run than the competition. Yurtseven, on the other hand, is confident in his ability to earn a spot in the Heat’s rotation come training camp.
“All the coaches have been saying, ‘If you want minutes, come get them in training camp,'” Yurtseven explained. “There is no such thing as over-planning.” So I must be in the best shape of my life and be prepared — the rest will take care of itself. (The coaching staff of the Miami Heat) is extremely demanding. Mondays are especially difficult in camp,” Yurtseven continued. “They know you took a break over the weekend.So, you go all out, and it drains you completely.”
The “10’s,” a timed test that players must pass, are a big part of Miami’s training camp. It entails performing ten baseline-to-baseline sprints in under a minute.
“You do tens, and then you do a lift and conditioning workouts,” Yurtseven explained. “I, too, go for extra vitamin sessions at night.”