‘I’m still chasing another championship,’ says Pat Riley
With the Heat securing the 13th pick in the June 20 NBA Draft, we solicited the views of respected ESPN college basketball and NBA Draft analyst Fran Fraschilla (the former St. John’s coach) for input on Miami’s potential options. Fraschilla’s thoughts:
▪ Southern Cal 6-6 guard Kevin Porter Jr. (9.5 ppg, 47.1 percent shooting from field, 41.2 percent shooting — 28 for 68 — on three-pointers but limited to 21 games because of injury and suspension): The former five-star recruit, who left USC after one season, “has got NBA athleticism and size for his position at the shooting guard spot, but there’s no question detective work will be needed to determine whether his reputation he’s earned is valid or not in terms of off-court attitude,” Fraschilla said. “He had an incident with the [USC} coaching staff where he was suspended and brought back to the team.
“Talent wise, he would go higher [than 13] if everything checked out away from the court. It’s important to determine whether he’s a fit for the Heat’s culture, but they may feel that’s the kind of place that could cocoon him around professional players.”
▪ Kentucky 6-8 power forward PJ Washington (15.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 52.2 percent from the field, 42.3 percent – 33 for 78 - on threes): “We used to call him a tweener and now we call him positionless. He’s a stretch four. The big question with him early in his career was his motor didn’t rev every night. That improved last season as well as his outside shot. He’s an outside/inside type of small-ball power forward. Don’t think he has the foot quickness or athleticism to be full-time perimeter player. But he’s improving.”
▪ Oregon 7-2 center Bol Bol (21 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.7 blocks, 56 percent shooting and 13 for 25 on threes): “He’s going to be the most polarizing player in the top 15. It’s hard to duplicate his combination of length and athleticism. He’s a physical freak in terms of his length, and he’s relatively skilled for a man that size, showing shooting range, ability to put the ball on the floor.
“One NBA scout told me he reminded him of Kevin Durant. I’m not in that camp. There is an indifference [on his part] in my opinion to work ethic and the defensive end of the court and he’s got a weak lower body to hold any ground in the low post. There’s questions about toughness, too.”
Jonathan Givony’s ESPN mock draft has Miami taking Bol at No. 13, though the Heat clearly needs a wing player more than a center.
▪ North Carolina 6-6 small forward Nassir Little (9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 48 percent from field but just 26.9 percent — 14 for 52 — on three-pointers): Most mock drafts have him going before 13, and “I think he would be a terrific get at 13,” Fraschilla said. “He checks out as a great kid who plays hard, is intelligent and is coming out of playing in a program that values hard work. If he falls to 13, he would be a terrific gamble. He has to improve his perimeter game. He’s making the transition from high school inside player to NBA wing player. Don’t know if he has Demar DeRozan-type upside. Not yet a good shooter but can still be a factor in games at both ends.”
▪ Gonzaga 6-8 forward Brandon Clark (16.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 68.7 percent from 4 for 15 on threes): Fraschilla raises comparisons to Golden State’s Kevon Looney for a player projected for Miami’s range.
“He was supposed to be one of most explosive athletes in college basketball after transferring [from San Jose State]. He shot almost all around the basket. The thing I struggled with watching him was his frame — he’s got the game of a power forward but the frame of a small forward. He didn’t score effectively over length at the rim. He’ll be a rotation player. High energy, underskilled. Ten to 20 range is where he fits, but he’s got some deficiencies you will have to play around if you put him on the floor.”
▪ Gonzaga 6-8 swingman Rui Hachimura (19.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 59.1 percent from field, 15 for 36 on threes): Fraschilla said “he’s a little more unique than Brandon Clarke. Has an NBA body. Reminds me of [Toronto small forward] OG Anunoby. He’s a mobile forward with power and strength. He has a high ceiling because he’s new to the game. Really good instincts for a young player. The one negative about him is putting the ball on the floor and playing away from the basket.”
▪ Kentucky 6-6 swingman Keldon Johnson (13.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 46.3 percent from field, 38.1 percent on threes): Fraschilla said he’s “viable at 13, a big, strong two-way player. Plays with a high motor, can defend the two or three. Improving shooter. Solid workmanlike player. I would project him as a rotation player with chance to be a starter. Toughness and character would fit neatly into Miami’s culture. Great work ethic.”
▪ Texas 7-0 center Jaxson Hayes (10.0 ppg, 5 rpg, 2.2 blocks and 72 percent shooting): “Prolific young talent with a combination of size and agility that you’re looking at and saying this kid has a chance to be a monster some day as an NBA center. Because he’s so raw and so early in his career, you won’t get a lot of production early. But you can’t pass up that combo of size and athleticism at 13, if he’s there at 13. Someone will take him before 13.”
▪ French 6-9 small forward Sekou Doumbouya (6.6 ppg in 17 minutes per game in European Cup): He’s projected to go shortly before Miami’s pick, but even if he’s there at 13, I would be somewhat surprised to see Pat Riley take an international player; he has seemed generally reluctant to do so since the Martin Muursepp mistake 23 years ago.
But Fraschilla said he’s a “really interesting prospect. NBA athleticism, nice skill package, improving his shooting from the perimeter. Lot to like about the long-term potential. He’s going to be one of the youngest players taken in first round [barely 18] if not the youngest. He’s absolutely in Miami’s wheelhouse in terms of athleticism and long-term potential. They have to do due diligence away from the court.”
▪ Indiana 6-6 small forward Romeo Langford (16.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 44.8 percent from field but 27.2 percent — 34 for 125 — on threes): The caveat with the shooting percentage is he played through a thumb injury that required surgery after the season.
“I would want to see for myself that shooting form is not broken,” Fraschilla said. “There are some shooting mechanics that would have to be improved on. But when the shot is not falling, he’s putting his head down and getting to the basket. He does know how to get to the basket and get himself fouled. He will not be an elite NBA athlete at shooting guard. But he does know how to score; he scored 3,000 points in high school [as a five-star prospect out of Indiana a year ago]. He’s in the wheelhouse of 13. He’s a guy to keep your eye on. I think he will rise.”
▪ Kentucky combo guard Tyler Herro (14 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 46.2 percent shooting and 35.5 on threes): Fraschilla said 13 would be too high: “In watching him closely, I don’t know he has the same kind of athleticism and upside as Kevin Huerter showed for Atlanta. It’s more about below-average athleticism for his NBA position. He would be a work in progress.”
Fraschilla also believes 13 would be too high for three others that some are projecting in the teens: Iowa State guard Talen Horton- Tucker, Tennessee power forward Grant Williams (Volunteers coach “Rick Barnes said Grant could turn into PJ Tucker some day”) and Virginia Tech shooting guard Nickiel Alexander-Walker.
Fraschilla said keep an eye on FSU 6-10 center Mfiondu Kabengele: “He reminds me of a young Serge Ibaka. Not sure will rise to 13 but he will rise.”
Fraschilla also has this cautionary warning: “At 13, in this draft, you’re lucky to get a rotation player. The talent falls off in terms of All-Star potential after four.”
Beyond the obvious top three (Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett), Fraschilla has Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland rounding out the top four.
Other players who appear unlikely to slip to 13 include Duke’s Cam Reddish, Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and North Carolina’s Coby White. If any of those surprisingly fell to 13, Miami would be in position to pounce, as it did when Justise Winslow fell to 10 four years ago.
White “is going earlier [than 13],” Fraschilla said. “I could see team snatching him 4, 5 or 6. The league values scoring at point guard. Athletic, fast, skilled and plays with high motor.”
Please click here for my Wednesday Hurricanes notes.
Please check back Wednesday evening for a Dolphins piece.