Here’s a stat that might drive home the point about just how good the Miami Heat has been over its first 29 seasons as a franchise:
Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery is only the 10th time the Heat has participated in the festivities and only the fifth since Pat Riley moved from the Big Apple to South Beach back in 1995.
Riley hasn’t needed much lottery luck to be successful. But getting some now could help put the Heat back into the position the 72-year-old Hall of Famer wants to leave the franchise in once he’s finally done trying to build championship contenders.
This year’s draft is considered one of the best in recent years – quite top-heavy too – and the Heat you could say are due for a little lottery luck.
Although the odds are slim Miami will net the top pick (the Heat has only five of the 1,001 four-digit combinations or a 0.5 percent chance to make it easy) or even finish in the top three (0.6 percent shot at the second pick; 0.7 percent shot at the third pick), the Heat has never moved up in the draft and instead has seen others move past them in the pecking order when the franchise has owned one of the worst records in the league.
Throw in the fact Miami has had one Hall of Famer (Alonzo Mounring) and potentially another (Chris Bosh) jolted by serious illnesses in the prime of their careers, you can almost hear the basketball Gods discussing whether or not they should throw Riley a bone this time around.
Anyway, here is a trip back down Heat lottery lane and how the team has fared in years past:
1989: Before the NBA got smart a year later and adpoted a weighted-system for lottery teams with the worst-records, the Heat had the worst record in the league as an expansion team and yet ended up picking fourth going into its second because it had the same 11.1 percent chance as the other nine lottery teams to land the top pick. Miami still ended up drafting Glen Rice, one of only three players in that draft who was selected to both an All-Star team and an All-NBA team (Tim Hardaway, Shawn Kemp were the others). In fact, picking fourth might have been a break. Pervis Ellison (Kings), Danny Ferry (Clippers) and Sean Elliott (Spurs) went 1-2-3. Only Elliott was an All-Star among that group.
1990: A year after dropping from the top spot to the fourth spot in the lottery, the Heat slipped from second to third when the Seattle Supersonics jumped up from 10th to the second pick. It was a tough pill to swallow. Seattle drafted Hall of Famer Gary Payton and Miami ended up trading the third pick to Denver for the ninth and 15th picks in the draft, which eventually turned into Willie Burton and Alec Kessler after a couple more trades. Derrick Coleman, the only other All-NBA and All-Star selection in that draft, was picked first by the Nets.
1991: The Heat finished with the second-worst record in the league, but slipped all the way back to the fifth spot in the draft after Charlotte and New Jersey jumped from the seventh and eighth slots to the first and second spots and took future All-Stars Larry Johnson and Kenny Anderson back-to-back. Miami ended up with Steve Smith. Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo went fourth to the Nuggets, who slipped three spots from the top spot. Smith eventually made the 1998 All-Star team as a member of the Hawks and won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics. But it’s a wonder how the Heat’s fortunes might have turned had it had Johnson, Anderson or Mutombo and not slipped to fifth in the lottery.
1993: This is the draft everybody remembers because the Orlando Magic went from just missing the playoffs in Shaquille O’Neal’s rookie season to winning the first pick in the lottery right after that. The Magic took Chris Webber before trading him for Penny Hardaway and played in the NBA Finals two years later. Miami was never really in this lottery to begin with. Although the Heat finished with the ninth-worst record in 1992, Miami had already traded its pick to Detroit for John Salley the previous September. The Pistons took Lindsey Hunter with the 10th pick.
1995: The Heat finished with the 10th-worst record and ended up picking 10th. Miami took Kurt Thomas with the pick. Thomas had a nice 19-year career in the NBA with multiple teams. But it would have been nice to have a little lottery luck this season. After the Warriors took Joe Smith with the first pick, the next four picks were future All-Stars and All-NBA selections Antonio McDyess (Clippers), Jerry Stackhouse (Sixers), Rasheed Wallace (Bullets) and Kevin Garnett (T’Wolves). Imagine if Riley would have had one of those guys to put alongside Tim Hardaway and Mourning.
2002: Miami finished with the 10th worst record in the league the season prior and ended up picking 10th and taking Caron Butler – one spot after the Suns took Amar’e Stoudemire. This draft wasn’t exactly loaded (it featured just four future All-Stars). But luck did prove a factor. Before the Rockets jumped from fifth to first and got Hall of Famer Yao Ming, the Heat and Suns each finished with 36-46 records the season prior. The Suns won a tiebreaker through a random drawing after the season and took Stoudemire, who went on to become the Rookie of the Year, a six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection. Butler, who became a two-time All-Star with the Wizards, was flipped as part of a package deal for Shaquille O’Neal. But Riley always wanted Stoudemire. He finally got him at the end of his career.
2003: The Heat came in with the fourth-worst record in the league and once again dropped back a spot in the draft because the Detroit Pistons jumped from sixth to second. Luckily for Miami, the Pistons somehow made the regrettable decision of drafting Darko Milicic. After LeBron James (Cavs), Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets) and Bosh (Raptors) were all taken, Riley drafted 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade with the fifth pick and the rest as they say is history.
2008: Here’s the one where you can argue Riley dropped the ball. Although Miami finished with the worst-record in the league the season prior and ended up with the second pick when the Chicago Bulls jumped from ninth to first, the Heat made one of its biggest draft blunders by taking Michael Beasley and not Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love, who were taken with the fourth and fifth picks by the Thunder and T’Wolves respectively. The Bulls drafted Derrick Rose, who won an MVP award in 2011 before injuries off-set his career. Riley, though, doesn’t regret the decision because it eventually led to the Big Three forming a couple years later. But who is to say how things might have turned out had Westbrook and Wade teammed up.
2015: Miami finished with the 10th-worst record in the league the season, ended up with the 10th pick and happily took forward Justise Winslow despite receiving some hefty offers from other teams for the pick. The Boston Celtics reportedly were shopping six picks to try and acquire Winslow including four first rounders. The jury is still out on Winslow, who missed all but 18 games last season with a shoulder injury. But there are plenty of people who now think the Heat made a mistake by not taking those picks from Boston or one of the players drafted after Winslow. The Indiana Pacers took Myles Turner one pick after Winslow. The Suns drafted Devin Booker three picks after Winslow.
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY
When/where: Tuesday at 8 p.m., New York City Hilton Midtown
Notes: Only the first three selections are determined by ping pong ball combinations. The team with the worst record has only won the lottery six times since 1985. Orlando was the lowest seeded team to win the NBA Lottery back in 1993. The longest odds overcome to earn a top-three pick was Charlotte (0.73%), which jumped from No. 13 to No. 3 in 1999.
Odds to win No. 1 pick
1. Celtics 25%
2. Suns 19.9%
3. Lakers 15.6%
4. Sixers 11.9%
5. Magic 8.8%
6. T’Wolves 5.3%
7. Knicks 5.3%
8. Kings 2.8%
9. Mavericks 1.7%
10. Kings 1.1%
11. Hornets 0.8%
12. Pistons 0.7%
13. Nuggets 0.6%
14. Heat 0.5%.