Ranking the Best 5 Draft Picks in Miami Heat History
The Miami Heat became the juggernaut they are today mostly through free agency, but that doesn't mean the franchise hasn't made some great draft picks over the years. So we decided to rank the best of the best from the Heat on the 26 draft days that they've been a part of.
Now, there's more that goes into a draft choice being a smart selection than just how a player performed wearing a Heat uniform.
Value is important. Getting a key player in the second round is more impressive than getting one in the first round.
While for the purposes of this list we're not very concerned with how well a player performed after he left Miami, it adds to a player's standing if, say, the Heat traded him and the return package was helpful to the franchise. Simply put, if a pick led to good things for Miami in a future trade or free-agency period, it was a good pick.
So, with those as our considerations, here are the top-five picks in Heat history.
5. Mario Chalmers
Admittedly, we're cheating a bit here because Miami actually acquired Mario Chalmers' rights through a draft night trade. Still, the Heat got fantastic value from a player taken with the 34th overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Chalmers' career numbers aren't flashy (8.4 PPG and 3.6 APG), but he's played a key role throughout the franchise's most successful era.
A lot of guys get undeservingly labeled as a "big-game player", but it truly fits Chalmers. 'Rio's ability to step up when it matters most played a part in the Heat's decision to get him.
Multiple times has Chalmers played better than his norm in the postseason.
Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals could easily be known as "The Mario Chalmers Game." 'Rio scored 25 points and hit a game-clinching layup to put Miami up 3-1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This year, Chalmers pick-and-rolled the Spurs to death in a crucial Game 2 of the 2013 NBA Finals. And when the Heat had their backs against the wall, trailing the San Antonio Spurs 3-2 in the series, 'Rio had 20 points. He also scored 17 more in the championship-clinching Game 7.
Chalmers isn't a star, or even close to it, unlike most of the players on this list. However, as a second-round pick he became the starter on two championship teams. That's pretty darn impressive.
4. Caron Butler
The Heat grabbed Caron Butler with the 10th pick of the 2002 draft out of the University of Connecticut.
In his rookie year, Butler proved to be a bright spot on a subpar 25-win Heat team. A great athlete, he could defend well and get to the rim easily on offense.
He led the Heat in points (1201), steals (137), earned Rookie of the Month honors in March and was named to All-Rookie First Team. Butler seemed primed for a long and successful Heat career.
Well, it didn't turn out that way. The Heat were much improved under new coach Stan Van Gundy in the 2003-04 season, but an oft-injured Butler couldn't find his rhythm and averaged 9.2 points per game on 38 percent shooting.
However, what enables Butler to make this list is that he had still shown enough in his first two seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers to want him. Butler was a key piece in the Heat's trade with the Lakers for Shaquille O'Neal in the 2004 offseason.
If the Heat didn't have the young asset that was Butler, perhaps they wouldn't have been able to pry Shaq from LA. And if the Heat hadn't have gotten Shaq, they likely don't become NBA champions in 2006.
3. Rony Seikaly
In 1988, a few months before current Heat guard Norris Cole was born, Miami used their franchise's first pick on Rony Seikaly out of Syracuse. He proved more than worthy of the honor.
Seikaly gave the Heat just about everything they could want out of a franchise-cornerstone big man: scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking.
He was a low-post presence that never averaged single-digit points in a Heat uniform and routinely neared 50 percent shooting from the floor. He averaged double-digit rebounds five times and topped 11 boards per game three times. And he posted about 1.4 blocks per game in his time in a Heat uni.
Seikaly has his name etched in the Heat record books in a couple of places: best career rebounding average (10.8), best single-season rebounding average (11.8), most rebounds in a season (934) and most rebounds in a game (34).
2. Glen Rice
Miami followed up the great pick of Rony Seikaly in 1988 with the even better selection of Glen Rice at fourth overall in '89.
Rice was a scoring machine for the Heat, averaging at least 19 points per game in four of his six seasons with the Heat. He was one of the game's deadliest outside shooters. In his final season with the Heat (1994-95), he knocked down 41 percent of his three-point shots.
However, his skill set wasn't limited to offense; he was an efficient rebounder for his position and an excellent wing defender.
With Rice as the team's best player, Miami made the playoffs in 1992 and 1994.
1. Dwyane Wade
Please, tell me you weren't expecting anybody other than Wade to be here. He's undoubtedly the most important player in franchise history.
Wade immediately made Miami a contender after being drafted No. 5 overall out of Marquette in 2003.
His explosiveness jumped out at you. He proved to be a fearless rim attacker that could score at will, yet was also a great distributor. While just 6'4", Wade was hauling down 5.2 rebounds and blocking 1.1 shots per game by just his second season. He was the bona fide, all-around superstar needed to win championships.
Speaking of championships, it took only three seasons for Wade to lead the Heat to an NBA title, and he did so through one of the most impressive NBA Finals performances in NBA history. In six games against the Dallas Mavericks, Wade averaged a truly absurd 34.7 points along with 7.8 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
Miami was able to put together today's Big Three because of Wade winning that title in '06 as impressively as he did. Not only was Wade a friend of LeBron James, he was a champion, and that more than anything led to LBJ coming to Miami. And we all know what's happened since (two more Heat titles).
With career averages of 24.7 points (on 48.9 percent shooting), 5.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.8 steals and one block, along with three titles, Wade will go down as not just one of the best shooting guards in NBA history, but one of the game's best players from any position.