Pelicans win Zion sweepstakes, will choose first in NBA Draft
The Heat didn’t defy the odds. Instead, Miami ended up right where the odds said it would.
The second envelope opened by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the Heat logo just minutes into Tuesday night’s ESPN broadcast from Chicago, which is also the site of this week’s NBA Draft Combine. This was the expected result, as Miami entered the NBA Draft lottery as the 13th seed and came out of it with the 13th overall pick in the June 20 draft.
The top four picks in the 2019 NBA Draft: 1. Pelicans, 2. Grizzlies, 3. Knicks and 4. Lakers. The Pelicans entered as the lottery’s seventh seed and jumped to the top pick despite just a 6 percent chance of winning the lottery, and now are expected to draft Duke forward Zion Williamson.
The Heat entered the lottery with a 90.6 percent chance of coming away with the No. 13 selection. A random drawing last month to break the tie between the three teams that finished with a 39-43 record (Charlotte, Miami, Sacramento) gave the Hornets the No. 12 seed for the lottery, the Heat the No. 13 seed and the Kings the No. 14 seed.
Miami had just a 1 percent chance at the top overall pick. The Heat also had a 1.1 percent chance at the No. 2 pick, a 1.2 percent chance at the No. 3 pick and a 1.4 percent chance at the No. 4 pick.
Former Heat center and current Heat vice president of player programs Alonzo Mourning represented the organization on stage at the lottery as the picks were unveiled to the public, while general manager Andy Elisburg represented the organization behind the scenes as the actual lottery was being conducted.
Tuesday marked the Heat’s 11th appearance in the lottery, and it has never moved higher than its projected position. Miami has actually slipped from its lottery seed six times.
While top prospects like Williamson, Murray State guard Ja Morant and Duke wing R.J. Barrett will surely be off the board before the Heat picks at No. 13 barring something unforeseen, those within the organization are still optimistic the 2019 draft is deep enough to land a quality player even at the bottom of the lottery.
“I think it’s deeper than what people say,” Riley said last month of this year’s draft. “… I’ve seen 30 players that are very good players. We’re at No. 13. I do think we would get something that would be equivalent to who we have on our team right now, Bam [Adebayo] and Justise [Winslow] and Josh [Richardson] and Derrick Jones Jr. There are going to be players that I think in that area will help us.”
Who could be available for the Heat at No. 13? ESPN rates these as the ninth through 18th best draft-eligible players: No. 9 Texas center Jaxson Hayes, No. 10 North Carolina shooting guard Coby White, No. 11 Indiana small forward Romeo Langford, No. 12 Gonzaga power forward Brandon Clarke, No. 13 Oregon center Bol Bol, No. 14 Southern California shooting guard Kevin Porter, No. 15 Kentucky power forward P.J. Washington, No. 16 North Carolina small forward Nassir Little, No. 17 Kentucky shooting guard Tyler Herro and No. 18 Gonzaga power forward Rui Hachimura.
The latest ESPN mock draft put together by NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givnoy has the Heat taking Bol.
“Bol brings much-needed 3-point shooting and rim protection. He’s a top-five talent in this draft, finding himself this low due to a season-ending foot injury, which is certainly a concern,” Givnoy wrote of Bol, who averaged 21 points on 56.1 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent shooting on threes in just nine games for Oregon this past season before suffering a foot injury. “... Bol might not be an ideal fit with this team’s culture, considering the questions about his approach to the game, but there is little doubt that his talent looked worthy of a much higher selection than the late lottery before he broke his foot in December.”
The Athletic’s latest mock draft by Sam Vecenie has the Heat selecting Washington.
“For Miami, they’re about as good as any team in the league at getting guys into optimal shape and putting guys into position for success,” Vecenie wrote of Washington, who averaged 15.2 points on 52.2 percent shooting from the field and 42.3 percent shooting on threes to go with 7.5 rebounds as a sophomore at Kentucky this past season.
“Washington is a player that got into terrific shape last season, and experienced a legitimate jump in his game and the way he enforces his athleticism on the game because of it. He could use a team that helps him to stay in such shape. This isn’t exactly what I’d call a sexy, high-upside pick for an organization in desperate need of such swings, but this part of the draft is not really loaded with those type of players and Washington is a player that would fit on their roster and give them some added size, toughness, and perimeter shooting. His length could also help them in the smaller lineups that they enjoy employing.”
Over the past few years, the No. 13 pick in the draft has proven there is potential to find productive players at that spot. The past 10 players who have been taken at No. 13 in the NBA Draft are Jerome Robinson (drafted by Clippers at No. 13 in 2018), Donovan Mitchell (drafted by Nuggets at No. 13 in 2017), Georgios Papagiannis (drafted by Suns at No. 13 in 2016), Devin Booker (drafted by Suns at No. 13 in 2015), Zach LaVine (drafted by Timberwolves at No. 13 in 2014), Kelly Olynyk (drafted by Mavericks at No. 13 in 2013), Kendall Marshall (drafted by Suns at No. 13 in 2012), Markieff Morris (drafted by Suns at No. 13 in 2011), Ed Davis (drafted by Raptors at No. 13 in 2010), and Tyler Hansbrough (drafted by Pacers at No. 13 in 2009).
One of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history Kobe Bryant was selected with the No. 13 pick in the 1996 draft.
While adding another young player on a rookie-scale contract makes sense for the Heat, it has the option to trade its first-round pick this year because it also currently holds its 2020 first-round selection. The NBA doesn’t allow teams to be without consecutive future first-round picks.
The Heat doesn’t currently have a second-round pick in next month’s draft. In fact, the Heat currently doesn’t have a second-round pick until 2022, but it does have cash available to buy a second-round selection on draft night if there’s a prospect on the board that it covets.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the No. 13 pick will come with a cap hit of $3.6 million next season.
The Heat already has 13 players under contract for 2019-20 (not accounting for an allocation for the first-round draft pick) who are due about $140 million. That includes the four players (Derrick Jones Jr., Yante Maten, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn) who don’t have their full 2019-20 salaries guaranteed yet. It also includes Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, who both have 2019-20 player options to decide on this offseason.
The $140 million of combined salaries can be lowered by about $6 million by waiving Ryan Anderson by July 10. That still puts the Heat way above the projected $109 million salary cap and just above the projected $132 million luxury tax line.
The Heat used its past two lottery picks on Bam Adebayo (No. 14 pick in 2017) and Justise Winslow (No. 10 in 2015).