Miami Heat

A look at power rotation players who could be available for Heat at No. 13 in NBA Draft

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Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.
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What will Miami Heat do in 2019 NBA Draft?

The 2019 NBA Draft is Thursday. The Heat currently holds two picks, Nos. 13 and 44. What will the Heat decide to do with the selections? Here’s a look at all of our coverage leading up to the draft.

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With the June 20 NBA Draft just days away, it’s time to take a closer look at the options the Heat will have with the No. 13 pick.

After taking a deep dive into the Heat’s options at the guard and wing positions, the third and final part of the draft preview focuses on the power rotation players who are expected to be selected in the Heat’s range in the first round (assuming Texas center Jaxson Hayes is selected ahead of Miami’s pick) ...

Rui Hachimura, F, Gonzaga

Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga

P.J. Washington, F, Kentucky

Bol Bol, C, Oregon

Goga Bitadze, C, International

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WHAT TO KNOW

If the Heat is looking to use its first-round pick to add to its frontcourt, there are a few options who are expected to be drafted around pick No. 13.

Hachimura is projected as a lottery pick in most mock drafts after an impressive junior season to cap off his three-year career at Gonzaga, which included just two starts in his first two college seasons. The forward took on a starting role as a junior, averaging 19.7 points on 59.1 percent shooting from the field and 41.7 percent shooting on threes to go with 6.5 rebounds. At 6-8, 240 pounds and with a 7-2 wingspan, Hachimura can be used in both forward spots because of his impressive combination of size, length and athleticism. He’s set to become the first Japanese-born player drafted into the NBA.

But Hachimura isn’t the only Gonzaga forward who the Heat is considering at No. 13. Clarke is one of the more experienced college players who could be drafted in the lottery, as he spent four years at Gonzaga. Clarke, 6-8, 207 pounds, averaged 16.9 points on 68.7 percent shooting from the field and 4-of-15 shooting on threes, 8.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks as a redshirt junior this past season. He doesn’t space the floor, but he’s a lob and tip-in dunk threat because of his leaping ability. Clarke’s athleticism and knack for playing above the rim also translates to the defensive end, as he projects to be a solid defender with his ability to switch onto the perimeter and block shots.

Along with guard Tyler Herro and forward Keldon Johnson, Washington is the third Kentucky player who’s a candidate for the Heat’s first-round pick. Washington, 6-8, Washington averaged 15.2 points on 52.2 percent shooting from the field and 42.3 percent (33 of 78) shooting on threes, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists as a sophomore this past season. As far as physical tools, Washington has a 7-2 wingspan and big hands. Washington improved his three-point percentage from 23.8 percent as a freshman to 42.3 percent as a sophomore, but he is still at his best offensively when posting up.

Bol, a 7-2 center, is considered by many as a high-risk, high-reward prospect. The son of former NBA center Manute Bol certainly has unique skills for a player of his size. He’s quick for a 7-footer, can play on the perimeter because of his handle and impressive three-point shot and has the potential to be an elite rim protector. Bol averaged 21 points on 56.1 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent shooting on threes to go with 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in just nine games as a freshman at Oregon before sustaining a season-ending left foot injury in December. So durability is already a concern. Bol measured at 7-2.5 and 208 pounds with a 7-7 wingspan at the Combine last month. That frame is also worth noting, with 6-4 Dwyane Wade listed at 220 pounds and 6-4 Dion Waiters listed at 215 pounds atthis past season. Does Bol’s upside outweigh the risk?

Bitadze, a Georgian big man, has been playing overseas for Mega Bemax. He brings impressive size, as he’s listed at 7 feet and around 250 pounds with a reported 7-3 wingspan. He plays with impressive mobility to go with his size and has even shown the potential to knock down threes. He projects as an old-school center with his size and strength, but his game also features some modern elements.

WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING?

ESPN’s latest mock draft has the Heat taking Washington at No. 13. ESPN NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony explained the pick like this: “With Bam Adebayo likely being suited to seeing significant minutes at the center position, it’s difficult to point to another long-term option at the power forward spot that the team can build around, which could make a player in Washington’s mold make sense.

“Washington has the length to defend multiple positions on the interior, he can stretch the floor from the perimeter and he brings plenty of long-term upside. His toughness and versatility will fit well on any team.”

As for the other power rotation players expected to go in the Heat’s range, ESPN’s mock draft has Hachimura going to the Hornets at No. 12, Clarke to the Celtics at No. 14, Bitadze to the Spurs at No. 19 and Bol to the Celtics at No. 20.

Givony wrote: “Hachimura is blessed with outstanding physical tools and impressive athletic ability. He brings the type of character and work ethic that this franchise typically values.”

Givony points to Clarke’s “versatility as a rim-protecting, pick-and-roll-switching lob-catcher” as some of the skills that make him an intriguing prospect.

“He will turn 23 prior to his first NBA game,” Givony continued on Clarke, “and he was one of the most productive players in college basketball this past season, meaning he should be ready to step in and help right away. He also has some untapped upside left thanks to his freakish athleticism and budding shooting ability, and he doesn’t need any plays called for him.”

Givony described Bitadze as a player “who has been extremely productive at the highest levels of competition outside the NBA in the Euroleague. His excellent skill level offensively — including his budding ability to stretch the floor — is attractive, given his combination of size and reach, especially since he has yet to turn 20.”

And to explain Bol’s fit with the Celtics at the 20th pick, Givony wrote: “General manager Danny Ainge has never been afraid to take a gamble on a risky prospect that other NBA teams decided to pass on due to injuries, character concerns or other reasons. Bol’s broken foot, skinny frame and the questions about his approach to the game have caused his stock to slip, but there is little doubt that his talent looked worthy of a top-10 pick before he got injured in December.”

BOTTOM LINE FOR HEAT

When looking at the Heat’s immediate needs, power rotation players should be last on the list. The Heat needs to add a guard or wing player before adding another power rotation player … if you’re just thinking about next season. But big picture, using the first-round pick to add to its frontcourt could make sense. Center Hassan Whiteside is entering the final season of his deal if he opts-in, and James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have just two seasons remaining on their contracts.

With the uncertainty surrounding the future of the roster, positional fit isn’t as much of a concern. It’s about drafting the best player available who the team feels has the most upside.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.

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