Zion Williamson injured as Duke falls to North Carolina
A six-pack of Heat notes on a Monday:
▪ If the Heat misses the playoffs, what would be the best-case scenario of its draft lottery odds?
Miami, which enters Monday’s game against Phoenix at 26-32, isn’t going to out-stink the Knicks (12-48), Suns (11-50), Cavaliers (14-46) and Bulls (16-44) and probably not the Hawks (20-40) or Memphis (23-38).
So the absolute best-case scenario would be sixth (if it can out-stink the Grizzlies and three other teams with slightly worse records than Miami) or seventh.
If Miami finishes with the sixth-worst record, it would have a 9 percent chance of the top pick, a 28 percent chance of a top-three pick and a 37 percent chance of a top five pick.
If Miami finishes with the seventh-worst record, it would have a 7.5 chance of the No. 1 pick, 23 percent chance of a top three pick and 32 percent chance of a top five pick.
But finishing with the sixth- or seventh-worst records would require the Heat dropping behind three other teams with slightly worse records than Miami has: Dallas (26-33), New Orleans (27-34) and Washington (24-36).
If Miami finishes behind all those teams, and with the 10th-worst record, it would have just a 3 percent chance of the top pick, 10 percent chance of a top three pick and 14 percent chance of a top five pick.
That also would require Miami staying behind two teams that have narrowly better records than Miami entering Monday: Orlando (28-33) and Minnesota (28-31).
The top pick in June’s draft — Duke’s Zion Williamson — is pretty clear.
As SI.com’s Jeremy Woo wrote, “Williamson’s otherworldly athleticism, remarkable scoring efficiency and ability to impact the game as a rebounder and shot-blocker truly make him unique. His ability to grab the ball and create good transition looks via dribble or pass consistently is rare. Playing downhill with his size, finishing and passing skills, he’s almost impossible to defend at the college level. While he is not an outstanding jump shooter, Williamson can simply barrel into the paint, and will draw tons of fouls with the way the NBA game is being called.”
Duke swingman R.J. Barrett is the likely No. 2 pick at this point.
Murray State point guard Ja Morant also is projected as a top four-pick, with Duke swingman Cam Reddish projected to go in the top five and perhaps Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver, Indiana forward Romeo Langford, Vanderbilt power forward Darius Garland, North Carolina small forward Nassir Little and Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter also competing for a top five spot.
On Dan Patrick’s radio show, ESPN’s Jay Bilas said of Barrett: “I have not given up on the idea that R.J. Barrett would be the better No. 1 pick. I don’t know that I would do that. [Barrett is] built for the NBA. He’s a much better shooter and I think his shot is going to improve, kind of like James Harden’s did. He can do everything. Ridiculously talented getting to the basket and finishing.”
As for Morant, ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givnoy said he “is an absolute freak, an electric athlete. He gets down the floor in the blink of an eye, creates his own shot,tremendous passer and he’s exactly what teams are looking for, that De’Aaron Fox type athlete to have at the point guard spot is hard to find.”
Givnoy said Reddish “is a polarizing player, depending on which teams you talk to. Some would tell you he’s Rodney Hood. Some would tell you he’s Paul George. It’s hard to find any consensus among scouts. He’s really struggling to create his own shot. He’s not finishing well around the basket. There are questions about his toughness and aggressiveness.”
▪ So what did Michael Jordan tell Dwyane Wade when they visited All Star weekend?
Jordan “told me, ‘Man, you can keep playing. Man, you still have a lot left,’” Wade said. “From a basketball standpoint, that’s my basketball idol. We’ve had a good rapport that happened before I went to Brand Jordan and being at Brand Jordan. When I walk up to him, just the smiles and love and hug; that stands out to me.”
Wade also was heartened by the messages he received from several NBA legends during All Star weekend.
“The legends made sure they grabbed me,” he said. “[Dikembe] Mutombo and Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], those guys grabbed me, and said something from an appreciative standpoint of my career and how I handled myself and how I approached the game.
“When these legends call you and grab you, that means a lot, especially when I first got to All Star weekend my rookie year, I went to the legends brunch. I kind of wanted to see what I wanted to become one day. And to be able to come first circle and have those same individuals make sure they grab me and say something about my career, that means a lot.”
▪ We’re told Caron Butler, when talking about his friendship with Wade, became emotional when giving his speech at the tribute/roast to Wade 10 days ago.
Pat Riley, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway, Charles Barkley and Wade’s wife, Gabrielle Union, also spoke at that event.
Fox Sports Sun will air a special on Wade’s All-Star weekend in mid March. Jason Jackson and Fox got plenty of good stuff for that Inside the Heat episode.
▪ Wade said the Heat hasn’t asked whether he would prefer to be honored during the regular-season home finale against Philadelphia on April 9 or at a stand-alone event during the offseason. And he said he has no preference.
The Heat hasn’t disclosed plans for a Wade tribute.
The Dolphins honored Dan Marino with a stand alone event. But unlike Wade, Marino didn’t know he would be retiring when he played his final game.
▪ Udonis Haslem also admitted he would appreciate a Heat public acknowledgement if he decides to retire. He said on Thursday that he’s leaning toward playing one more season.
“When I do make the decision, if they want to do something for me, I’d love it,” he said. “Nothing like Dwyane; I don’t want all that stuff. But if they want to something for me, I worked hard. I loved it, I deserved it. I would love to go away with some memories.”
▪ Hassan Whiteside, who’s eighth in the NBA in rebounding and fifth in blocks, said he expects more from himself.
“First half of the season, I feel I can do more,” he said. “I want to do more. I want to be out there more. I want to be top five in rebounding. My per 36 [minutes], I am [first in] rebounding. I can’t control the minutes but per 48, I want to be up there.”