Though the Heat has depth at guard, we hear Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell is among a handful of players under strong consideration by the Heat at No. 14, and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Monday that Mitchell would be his pick if all of the perceived top 10 to 12 players are off the board by the time Miami selects in Thursday’s draft.
Bilas, who will be on ESPN’s main draft set on Thursday, told me on a conference call today that Mitchell would be his pick for the Heat if all of the consensus top players are off the board and assuming that Duke guard Luke Kennard, Gonzaga center Zach Collins, North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith and FSU forward Jonathan Isaac are not available. (It’s certainly conceivable that Kennard or Collins could drop to 14, and the Heat likes both.)
“I would say Donovan Mitchell would be next on my list,” Bilas said. “He’s a power athletic lengthy guard that can really defend, rebound. Good in transition. Good player. Good baseball player, too. Not that that matters.”
Though Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the 6-3 Mitchell is best suited to point guard, Bilas said he’s “a combo [guard]. He doesn’t set up like a point guard that’s sort of the classic pass first natural point guard. I would say that’s the best way to put it. He’s not a natural at that position.
“But in the NBA, especially as he gets older, he could initiate and certainly handle some of that. That was the thing with Russell Westbrook - I’m not comparing those two - Russell, people questioned he’s not a natural point guard. So what? He’s a natural stud. I’m not suggesting Donovan Mitchell is Russell Westbook. [But] he’s super athletic. As he gets older and works on his game, you can see him being able to initiate offense as a point guard.”
The Heat likes Mitchell’s skills and he impressed in a Heat workout last week.
Bilas said his next choice for Miami would be Indiana forward OG Anonoby, a small forward who might also be able to play some power forward: “NBA body. Has the ability to a great defender.”
But he’s coming off a serious knee injury and hasn’t been able to work out for teams before the draft.
• So what’s a Heat workout like for these prospects?
North Carolina’s Justin Jackson said meeting Heat president Pat Riley "was pretty amazing. He has won so many things. That was really cool. The workout was really good. I learned some things and I thought it was really good."
Jackson was paired in a one-on-one workout with fringe Louisville prospect Jaylen Johnson in a workout overseen by Heat coaches and viewed by the coaching and front office staffs.
He said Riley told him he "shot the ball really well. Just keeping work hard and not to be OK with just being in the league."
Jackson said he met with several Heat front office officials, including Riley and analytics director Shane Battier. He said the group briefly joked about the Duke presence within the organization.
"We joked a little about it because Shane [a Duke alum] was in the meeting," he said. "But it was all business."
Jackson, a skilled defender who dramatically improved his three-point shooting last season, would welcome Miami selecting him.
"It’s obvious they have a great organization run by great people who have been around the NBA a long time," he said. "Their whole set-up is really appealing. That would be a blessing [going to Miami]. It’s a great city" too.
Jackson is viewed as a secondary option for the Heat, a consideration only if a handful of other players - such as Collins and Kennard, among others - aren’t available at 14.
• Yes, the Heat likes Indiana’s Paul George, who is being shopped after informing the Pacers that he plans to leave as a free agent in the summer of 2018, with a preference for the Lakers.
But Miami doesn’t have the available assets that Indiana reportedly is looking for - two No. 1 picks and a starter. The Heat cannot trade any No. 1 picks (before the draft) until 2023 because it has traded multiple future No. 1 picks and picks can’t be traded in consecutive years.
Every other team in the league, other than Miami, is eligible to trade a first-round pick before 2023.
• Miami will be very interested to see if Boston acquires Jimmy Butler from Chicago, because that would make it far more difficult for Boston to make a run at impending Utah free agent Gordon Hayward.
As cap expert Albert Nahmad notes, the Celtics could trade for Paul George and create space for a max offer to Hayward if they trade the third pick and another $13 million to $16 million of cap commitments.
The numbers would be similar with Butler; Butler is due $18.7 million next season, George $19.3 million.
The Heat will go all-in on Hayward, who is expected to consider Utah, Miami and Boston, and potentially others.