Greg Cote

How one of NBA Draft’s top-five talents could fall to the Miami Heat picking 14th

Duke forward Harry Giles could fall to the Heat with the 14th pick and be the risky steal of the NBA Draft if his knees pass medical scrutiny.
Duke forward Harry Giles could fall to the Heat with the 14th pick and be the risky steal of the NBA Draft if his knees pass medical scrutiny. Getty Images

This will be remembered, if dubiously, as the year the Balls hijacked the NBA Draft. Mastermind daddy LaVar, UCLA son Lonzo and their $495 sneakers will glom disproportionate attention right through the June 22 event in Brooklyn.

As if on cue Tuesday night's draft lottery played out perfectly for basketball's self-appointed new first family. It assured Kid Ball will go No. 2 overall to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers as preferred, while whomever goes No. 1 to Boston, likeliest Markelle Fultz, will be Whatshisname, an historical footnote.

Surely, as per the LaVar blueprint, Lonzo will grand-marshal a new Lakers dynasty as it he makes a beeline on golden sneakers to the Hall of Fame.

Let's take a moment, though, to talk about the draft apart from the Balls, while that's still legal.

It happens to be an unusually deep draft, increasing the likelihood that the Miami Heat, picking 14th overall, might land an impact player, an immedite rotation guy and likely future starter. (Patience, though. Remember that freshman now dominate NBA first rounds).

Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer calls this “a very good draft” and adds, “Down the road this could end up being a really special draft.”

We aren't accustomed to significant first rounds around here, with Pat Riley and the Heat famously cool on the college pipeline as a way to build and win. Miami hasn't landed a major cornerstone player in the draft since Dwyane Wade in 2003. Then again, Miami has had only four picks higher than this year's 14th since Riley arrived in 1995.

The draft happens right before the free agency signing period begins, when Miami will have close to $40 million in spending money under the salary cap. So the draft will commence the latest phase of Riley's rebuild.

The Heat, after going 30-11 the second half of this year, believes it is in good shape to be competitive in the East next season. Hitting big in the draft and then in free agency would help erase any doubts.

There can be little doubt Miami's draft wish-list should begin with a power forward to fill the gaping and unfilled crater Chris Bosh left.

The Heat has a long-term answer at center in Hassan Whiteside, quality and depth at guard is solid, and the small forward position is in better shape than the power spot.

Miami wants a big to join Whiteside and form a scary frontcourt.

And this could be the year to do it. A draft top-heavy with guards should offer a bounty of power forwards or small forwards by mid-round when Miami is on the clock.

Florida State's Jonathan Isaac and Arizona's Lauri Markkanen would entice if they fell to 14th, but that's doubtful. Names more likely available to keep an eye on include Wake Forest's John Collins, Indiana's OG Anunoby, North Carolina's Justin Jackson and UCLA's T.J. Leaf – the latter's draft stock having risen from all of the scouting eyeballs that glimpsed him while there to ogle Lonzo Ball.

I'd not also not rule out centers-by-trade who could adapt to PF, guys like Gonzaga's Zach Collins and Texas' Jarrett Allen.

One name we haven't yet mentioned may be the most intriguing of all as a Heat possibility, that intoxicating, frightening combination of huge upside and huge risk – the quintessential boom-or-bust guy.

Harry Giles.

He's a one-and-done Duke foward who is 6-11 and just turned 19.

Many considered him the No. 1 prep recruit in the nation in 2016. If talent and potential were the only gauges he'd be a certain top-five pick next month.

Giles, though, had torn ligaments and major surgery on both knees in high school. Then he missed the first chunk of his only Duke season after arthroscopic knee surgery. He would average 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 11 ½ minutes per game in 26 games for the Blue Devils.

Those are hardly first-round numbers. But his ceiling is first round. With Giles, what a team's scouts say won't be as important as what its doctors say. If he gets a clean pre-draft bill of health from the Heat medical staff, he'd be an enticing pick for Miami if there at 14 – worth the gamble.

Where he ends up going could make Giles the most-watched player on draft night not wearing $495 sneakers.

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