I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for an offseason before.
It’s that championship hangover; that rare feeling where your team finally prevails as the team to beat and you can look forward to an entire year’s worth of trash-talk. It’s that feeling of having no worries concerning your team and not stressing over the thought of what they could possibly do to make a significant improvement.
Oh, the Heat will improve. LeBron James has already stated that he will look to improve, as will Dwyane Wade, who recently stated that he will be spending the summer attempting to work on his jump-shot. Chris Bosh will most likely perform his usual summer job of tearing down cities in Japan.
Imagine that; LeBron James getting better and Dwyane Wade with the jumper he had from 2003-2006. It’s thoughts like that which will make a man sin.
Not to mention, the Heat will also be on the lookout for a player who will sign on the cheap, as well as making decision’s on whether or not to bring back Terrel Harris, Eddy Curry, Juwan Howard and Ronny Turiaf, all of whom are free agents.
We’ll get to that another time. What we are here to speak of is the draft that will be occurring this Thursday, June 27th. We could really use the basketball in between whirlwind of a championship put us in a tizzy and the free agency period, which will begin on July 10th when free agents are allowed to sign with teams.
July 1st is when team’s can begin speaking of free agents. I know which free agent you’re all thinking about and, like I said, we’ll get to that at a different time. Trust me, I’m just as excited as you pondering the idea of having the greatest three-point shooter in league history taking perimeter jumpers for this team, but it’s draft time now.
The Miami Heat haven’t really been notorious as a team that knows how to use its picks wisely. In fact, outside of picking Dwyane Wade at number five in 2003, the Heat haven’t really amounted to much in the draft. Outside of Wade, Dexter Pittman and Norris Cole, the entire roster is made up of players that came here either via trade or free agency.
When it comes down to it, the Heat just haven’t been that great of a drafting team. The only players that this team has drafted who are worth mentioning is essentially restricted to Wade, Glen Rice, Steve Smith, and Rony Seikaly, who is only worth mentioning because he’s seen as an archangel in the heavenly paradise that is South Florida sports.
Miami will have the 27th pick in this year’s draft and that’s it. No second round pick, just that one pick late in the first-round. Usually the Heat don’t seem to take it too seriously when they’re drafting that high, but with success seen out of Norris Cole, who was the number 28 pick last year, the organization may just actually have to go out and look for the college star capable of helping this team.
Also, this year’s draft class is stacked. There is a whole lot of talent worth noting throughout the first round and even early in the second round. Perhaps the greatest thing about this draft is the fact that there are an unbelievable amount of forwards and centers, which completely goes against the norm of there being an excessive amount of guards as seen in recent years.
Miami will be on the lookout for a few things. Most notably, they’ll be on the lookout for either a wing player that can relieve some of the pressure off Mike Miller and Shane Battier or a physical presence down low that could give the team a strong rebounder and deterrent below the rim.
Word is that the team is stressing the value of a versatile wing player.
With only one pick, the Heat will have to choose wisely. Let’s take a look at these five players who may be worth a look:
Draymond Green, F, Michigan State
Because of the excess of talented forwards and centers in this year’s draft, guys like Draymond Green are going to find their way getting selected late in the first round.
The Heat will be extremely fortunate if the 6’7″, 230-pound Green falls into their lap. He’s exactly what they’re looking for if the rumors are true of this team coveting versatile wing players. Green is an athlete capable of guarding multiple positions and playing physical down low.
Green is a swiss-army knife of sorts. In his senior season with the Spartans, Green proved that he could score, rebound, pass and defend after posting up averages of 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per. He shot 45 percent from the field and converted 1.4 three-pointers per at a 39 percent clip.
Perhaps the most appealing attribute of Green is the fact that he spent four years at college, which may appeal to a Heat team that should be on the lookout for a mature player who is NBA-ready.
Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
If the Heat are interested in picking up a big man who can make their presence felt down low, then Festus Ezeli may be the best option for them.
Once again, the Heat benefit from the myriad of center’s in this year’s draft. Ezeli is projected to go late in the first-round and would certainly answer any problems the Heat had when looking for someone who is capable of rebounding and defending well under the rim.
Like Green, Ezeli also spent four years in college. His junior season, however, proved to be his best as he averaged 13 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per, as opposed to his senior season when he only averaged 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2 blocks per. The decline in his stats possibly came as a result of the NBA talent that inhibited Vanderbilt.
Ezeli stands at 6’11” and weighs in at 255-pounds. The Heat will get a rebounder and defender if they end up picking up Ezeli, but with a limited offensive game, they might just end up with a bigger Joel Anthony.
Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
It was a strange ride for the center who went to school in South Florida at Sagemont.
Despite being heavily hyped as a dominant 7′, 255-pound behemoth, Fab Melo spent the majority of his two years with Syracuse on the bench. It wasn’t due to injuries, either. Melo dealt with some off-court trouble, which would actually boil over into him missing the entire NCAA tournament.
After a freshman season where he only averaged ten minutes per, Melo was given more of a chance to prove himself in his sophomore season where he was given 25 minutes per to work with. He moderately impressed with 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per.
Melo is a huge body that could easily become an intimidating force in the NBA. However, the off-court issues and lack of an offensive game could prove detrimental to the team.
Melo’s size gives him a lot of potential, but the Heat may want to end up making a safer pick.
Quincy Miller, F, Baylor
Continuing to play into that idea of the Heat going after a versatile forward with strong defensive abilities, 6’10” small forward Quincy Miller is another player that comes to mind.
He averaged 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per in his lone season at Baylor.
Miller is limited at some facets of the game, however. At 210-pounds, he’ll need to bulk up and add some muscle. His speed is also being said to be a red flag after suffering from a torn ACL in his senior year at high school, which was only two years ago.
However, Miller seems to have more positive attributes than negative. He’s got a solid mid-range game, great handles for a player his size and is extremely mature for his age.
The fact that he can also take and make mid-range jumpers, as well as containing the ability to create his own shot, should be enough to convince the Heat into taking a good look at him.
Jeff Taylor, F, Vanderbilt
The Heat have never been the team to go out on a limb and select an international player. Although, they may end up finally making that reach by going after Jeffery Taylor, a Swedish product who played four years at Vanderbilt.
At 6’7″, 225-pounds, Taylor fits into that dynamic of the Heat coveting a swingman who can play solid defense and knows how to utilize their athleticism. The former Commodores star is being revered as a defender and NBADraft.net describes him as having, “…some of the best physical tools of any wing prospect in the 2012 class.”
This may very well be the player the Heat end up drafting. The Heat aren’t looking for much else other than either a physical presence down low or a wing defender with a defensive skillset that is capable of defending multiple positions.
If Taylor is available, the Heat need to pounce on him. They can’t allow someone who is drawing comparisons to Thabo Sefolosha to simply move on and get drafted by a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder. They need to take advantage and draft arguably the best wing defender in the draft.
He’s also not that bad of a shooter, either. In his senior season, Taylor converted 1.8 three-pointers per and shot 42 percent from deep.
So, why exactly isn’t he a lottery pick? His ball-handling and passing skills aren’t on par with what you’d like to see from your average NBA player. Also, his length isn’t as imposing a player like Quincy Miller, who might also be available around the same time the Heat are making their selection.
However, I still believe that Taylor will be the player the Heat end up drafting. Taylor simply being an outstanding wing defender and containing a great deal of athleticism should be enough to convince the Heat that they have found their newest rookie sensation to mold.