Barring some lottery luck on Tuesday night, the Miami Heat will be choosing 14th in next month’s NBA Draft.
While the Heat would obviously prefer to land in the top three and potentially end up with a franchise-changing talent, Chet Kammerer, the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel, said Friday afternoon at the league’s draft combine he thinks Miami will still come away with a rotational player at the very least.
“This is a very good draft,” said Kammerer, who thinks there are probably about 20 players in the draft who will crack playing rotations. “I think it’s very good at the top of the draft. I don’t know if the players at the top of the draft are going to make a huge difference their first year or two because they’re so young. But I think down the road this could end up being a really special draft.
“There’s so much potential and so many boxes you check off from their character, their skill level, their athleticism. They have combinations of players high in the draft that I think are going to be really good NBA players.”
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Most analysts believe there are tiers to next month’s draft.
“There’s four at the top right now that have separated themselves a little bit, and that's [Washington’s Markelle] Fultz, [UCLA’s Lonzo] Ball, [Kansas’] Josh Jackson and [Duke’s Jayson] Tatum,” ESPN analyst Jeff Goodman said earlier this week. “And then there’s probably the next tier of four or five, which is in some order, [Arizona’s Lauri] Markkanen, [Kentucky’s] De’Aaron Fox, [Florida State’s Jonathan] Isaac, [Kentucky’s] Malik Monk, [N.C. State’s] Dennis Smith. And then there’s another group after that.”
The Heat is not sharing its preferred pecking order. But the group most scouts believe will be in the Heat’s wheelhouse if it picks 14th are mostly bigs and stretch fours, with the majority of elite point guards and wings expected to be gone by the time Miami drafts.
The group the Heat could be looking at includes Gonzaga’s Zach Collins (7-0, 232), Texas’ Jarrett Allen (6-10, 233), Wake Forest’s John Collins (6-9 ½, 225), Cal’s Ivan Rabb (6-10, 220) and UCLA’s TJ Leaf (6-10, 222). Among the potential available wings and shooting guards are North Carolina’s Justin Jackson (6-8, 200), Indiana’s OG Anunoby (6-8, 232), Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell (6-3, 211), Duke’s Luke Kennard (6-5 ½, 196) and Terrance Ferguson (6-7, 185), who played overseas this past season in Australia.
Kammerer said Miami will start hosting private workouts with roughly 30 players beginning next week.
Leaf and Jackson said Thursday the Heat has spoken to their agents and shown interest about setting up potential private workouts. Friday, Miami had an interview with Anunoby, who is recovering from a torn ACL sustained in January. He’s medically unable to perform in a private workout, but is meeting with teams.
The remaining seven players mentioned above said they have yet to speak to the Heat at the combine or elswehere, but didn’t rule out future contact and workouts in Miami.
Florida State wing Dwayne Bacon (6-6, 221) was the only player at the combine who confirmed he has a future workout already scheduled with the Heat. Bacon, 21, is projected as a second rounder by most scouting services.
Other Heat interviews at the combine the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post learned of Friday were all with players expected to be second round picks or undrafted free agents: Oregon forward Chris Boucher (recovering from a torn ACL), Colorado combo guard Derrick White Jr. (6-4 1/2, 190), Baylor big man Johnathan Motley (6-9, 238), Iowa State point guard Monte Morris (6-2 1/2, 175), Arizona point guard Kobi Simmons (6-4 1/2, 166) and Indiana big man Thomas Bryant (6-11, 248).
Morris and Motley said they expected to have future workouts with the Heat, but had not finalized them as of yet. Former Florida Gators swingman Devin Robinson (6-7, 190) had an interview with the Heat Friday, but said there are no future plans for a workout as of yet.
Kammerer said while the strength of the draft is clearly point guard, he also said there “are several fours and fives” that are pretty good, too. Kammerer cautions, though, the impact of any player the Heat takes with the 14th pick might not be felt immediately.
“We got a lot of guys here who didn’t even start [in college],” he said. “They were coming off the bench and we’re talking about them. Zach Collins from Gonzaga, he never started a game. I went and saw him play in November [and] I wrote something real short: ‘Definite good player, a player to follow next year because he could be special.’ And by the end of the year, now we’re talking about him being a top 10 [pick]. It’s so hard to even predict anymore because anybody who plays a significant role, they declare.”
As for the depth of the draft, Kammerer says, it’s about the same as it always is.
“I’m not sure the second round is going to be any better than previous drafts,” he said. “When you talk about depth you talk about second round guys I would say ‘OK, not bad.’ These guys [here at the combine] are mostly second round [picks]. There’s some good players, but I don’t think this is one of those drafts you’re going to say, ‘Oh, man, there’s 10 guys in the second round that are going to be really good NBA players.’ It’s such a guess, it really is. But I think there are a lot of good prospects in this draft.”
The Heat do not own a second round pick heading into the draft, but could acquire one if it feels a player is worth it. Next season marks the first time NBA teams will be allowed to sign players to two-way contracts, which allow them to send the players to the developmental league and still own their rights. Last year, the Heat lost the No. 1-ranked player in the D-League in point guard Briante Weber when the Warriors signed him to a 10-day contract.
“In the past teams would draft and stash a European,” Kammerer said. “Now I think you’re going to see teams stash some guys that maybe aren’t ready, but have a lot of upside. In the past, the best 60 guys didn’t get drafted because people didn’t have two [additional two-way] slots for them. So they would take some European they’re stashing because they can see their roster and they don’t have spots for two or three guys. Now, there’s more of a chance for them to stash an American than to stash a European.”