Top Prospects Miami Heat Must Target in 2013 Draft
Because they gave up their picks in the sign-and-trade for LeBron James and saw their hopes of a 2013 first-round pick fly out the window when the Philadelphia 76ers failed to make the postseason, the Miami Heat will be without a single draft pick the entire draft.
But that shouldn't stop them from giving some prospects a look. The Heat is a team that's in win-now mode, and it's paying off, but they're also playing a dangerous game by relying on a supporting cast that is composed mostly of players at least 30 years old.
Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem are all key role players on this team, and they're all over the age of 32. Not counting LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are the only players under the age of 30 that can crack the rotation.
Jarvis Varnado is the only other young player on this team, and he'll most likely never see any significant minutes.
With the organization short on funds because of the impending luxury tax that will soon hit, it needs to look into trading into the draft for the chance to get a cheap roster spot. The only players that could potentially leave are Ray Allen and James Jones, both with player options, as well as Chris Andersen and Juwan Howard, who will both be free agents.
It would be wise of the Heat to use Howard's roster spot on someone who can actually provide something in the rotation. Understood that Juwan is there for veteran leadership and support, but he looks like an assistant coach more than a player.
Miami needs to build for the future. It's entertaining and compelling to see what it's currently doing, but there's also a time it needs to prepare for, and even now in case a rotation player or two is forced to sit out with an injury.
The draft is probably the last thing on the organization's mind at the moment. However, the Heat will need to consider these five players when they do reach the point of thinking of making a move into the draft.
The Heat is absolutely loaded on wing talent, yes, but go ahead and look at the ages of all those vital wing players.
Ray Allen is 37, Shane Battier is 34, Mike Miller is 33 and Dwyane Wade is 31. Miami won't be finding the next Dwyane Wade in this year's draft, with the limited pieces it has, but the Heat could take a stab at a shooter who can possibly aid in easing the minutes off of guys like Allen and Battier.
Hailing from the University of North Carolina, Reggie Bullock has gradually improved his overall field-goal percentage and three-point percentage over his three-year college career.
He started out as a 29 percent three-point threat in his freshman season, before ending his career converting nearly 44 percent of his nearly six three-point attempts per game. He also averaged 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 1.3 steals and shot 48 percent from the field.
Bullock can be a more aggressive player, but his shooting touch should have the Heat salivating. With only Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers seen as perimeter threats that can be signed for five years without having to worry about retirement, a young shooter like Bullock coming off the bench would help the Heat in more ways than one.
First off, it's another shooter. Miami loves its shooters and it revolves its entire offense on shooters spacing the floor and opening up the paint. Secondly, Bullock takes some of the pressure off of Allen and Battier as the heavily-relied upon perimeter threats of the team.
Plus, he has good size for a shooting guard (listed at 6'7") and puts up extremely impressive rebounding numbers for a wing player. It does not hurt for the Heat to have an extra rebounder at this point.
Although Rodney Williams seems like an easy write-off for Miami because of his lack of a consistent perimeter stroke, it's his athleticism that's going to entice teams like the Heat into giving him a possible roster spot.
NBAdraft.net has Williams' athleticism stock rated a perfect 10 out of 10. He acknowledges that his jumper isn't as consistent as coaches and scouts would like it to be, but he makes up for it with an aggressive mentality that has him constantly attacking the rim.
Williams is said to have a wingspan that extends out to 7', which would work nicely on a Heat team that has a defense reliant on the athleticism and speed of its defenders. It will take some time for him to learn Miami's elite and proven defensive system, but there wouldn't be any worries over whether he can fit in because of his wingspan and athleticism.
NBAdraft.net says Williams,"shows a lot of potential defensively with excellent anticipation and a great first step to jump passing lanes and get out for breakaway dunks". The more you read, the more you think he's perfect for Miami's defense.
Williams topped out in his junior year, averaging 12.2 points on 56 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals, and his numbers across the board took a hit in his senior season, which is why he is projected to be a late-second round pick.
His 9-of-44 shooting from deep in his senior shooting is not encouraging, and those would be the numbers to deter the Heat from not giving Williams an honest look.
However, it's his defensive potential that could entice Miami into making a deal happen to bring in the four-year Minnesota Golden Gopher.
The embodiment of any stretch-power forward/center you could ask for, Kenny Kadji and his shooting played a large role in the University of Miami's unexpected success this past season.
On four attempts from beyond the arc per game, Kadji was converting the long-distance jumpers at a 35 percent clip, while converting 47 percent overall.
Although his percentages were down from the previous season, the expanded role and the higher frequency of three-pointers (almost two more per game than he was taking his junior year) had something to do with it. That increase in minutes did enable Kadji to post 12.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per in his senior season.
Miami is always looking for players who can stretch the floor, leaving the traditional post-oriented center out of the question. Unless they're as athletic as Chris Andersen, the Heat aren't going to want much to do with them.
Kadji, however, is a strong 4/5 that is listed at 6'11", 245 pounds. He can battle down low and can stretch the floor with his superior shooting ability.
With Miami's options at the 4 and 5 currently limited to Andersen, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem and Jarvis Varnado playing behind Chris Bosh, the Heat can afford to invest in some young potential.
Even more important is to plan just in case. Each member of the 'Big Three' can opt out in the summer of 2014, and it seems that each player re-structuring his contract so the organization can afford the luxury tax.
However, Bosh may want the spotlight elsewhere after another drop in his numbers and involvement in Miami's offense. Being able to develop a stretch-4/5 like Kadji would give the Heat some reassurance in case Bosh does in fact leave, but also for some added depth.
Not exactly a shooting threat, considering he took one three-pointer in his four-year career, but Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe would bring to Miami a possible replacement for Udonis Haslem.
Haslem's career has been up and down since he tore a ligament in his foot in November 2010. His minutes and numbers have dropped significantly, and it's put the Heat into an awkward position where they are essentially starting Udonis for the first and third quarters and then hardly giving him minutes after.
At 32, Haslem isn't getting any younger. Mbakwe, however, is a 22-year-old that can prove to a be a useful rebounder, despite being undersized at 6'8". It wouldn't be much of a difference from Haslem, who has spent his career battling taller players as an undersized 6'8" forward/center.
Mbakwe has put up excellent rebounding numbers his final three seasons with Minnesota. He topped off at 10.5 rebounds per game in his sophomore season and ended averaging nearly nine in his senior season.
He has his incredible range to thank for making up for the size disadvantage he found himself encountering in college. His wingspan is listed at a harrowing 7'4", and he has impressive athleticism for a player his size.
The problem? No jump shot. Mbakwe is a hesitant shooter and finds most of his offense coming off shots near the rim, including alley-oops that would fit-in nicely with Miami's offense that regularly attempts to find guys like Chris Andersen off of pick-and-rolls.
Miami never had the option of going over the top of the defense with their previous starting centers, but have began to experiment with Andersen. In case Andersen comes at too expensive of a price next year, Mbakwe would be a suitable replacement that would be able to stay around for the long term.
Not the most popular name, since you hardly see any quality talent come out of Tennessee State, but Robert Covington has quietly emerged as a projected second-round pick.
And he may just fall into Miami's hands if it's that adamant about going after him.
A 6'9" small forward, Covington is capable of doing it all on the floor and it shows in his incredible offensive and defensive stats from his senior season. In a terrific all-around season, Covington averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, 2.2 steals, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 assists per game.
He also shot 43 percent from the field and converted 39 percent of his nearly five three-point attempts per game. The numbers are actually down from the 45 percent he shot in his junior season, and even lower than the 46 percent he shot in his sophomore year.
Perhaps the most impressive of Covington's numbers come on the defensive end, where he stands out as someone who has quick hands garnering steals and superb athleticism and timing, notching nearly two blocks per.
I don't need to get into how much defense means to the Miami Heat, and someone that can rack up steals and blocks will always be welcomed into Miami's hard-working, frantic defense. And when it comes to a player who hails from somewhere as little-known as Tennessee State, he should be as hard a worker as anyone from a school in a known conference.
Hey, it worked for Cleveland State's Norris Cole, who has emerged as a key rotation player and possible future starter in only two years.
Throw in Covington's three-point shooting ability and you have a player that almost seems too perfect for the Heat.