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Draft Day 2009: Who Miami should be picking...

(NOTE: "Through the Net" is postponed today; I'll offer a link overview this evening [hopefully before the draft kicks off], but I started a new job this week and adjusting my clock is killing me. Plus, I figured you'd appreciate some original work instead of content recycling and analysis. You're patience is greatly appreciated. At Hot Hot Hoops, safety is our first priority.) Let me begin by saying I'm not a huge fan of pre-draft predictions and advice. Every year, thousands of man-hours are needlesly waisted seeking to guess the inner-workings of professional sports team's general managers, some of the most unpredictable people in the world. Hundreds of mock drafts are rendered moot by the first pick, because some guy who's never played basketball doesn't like the way Kevin Durant handles the ball, or loves how Sam Bowie looks when he enters the arena. It's really pointless; post-draft analysis is so much more important, and couldn't we cure cancer or build an awesome tiki-bar in the time we could save? Having said that, allow me to offer my draft predictions and advice. Call me a homer, call me an ACC-ophile, but if the Heat wants the most bang for its drafting buck, the clear choice for Pat Riley at pick No. 43 (assuming the Heat don't make a trade and he's still available) is University of Miami shooting guard Jack McClinton. For Riley (and only for Riley) it's a two-for-one package. The most important factor in the decision is the fact that, well, McClinton is pretty damn good. Just take a look at this points-per-posession breakdown from SI.com's Luke Winn:
Comparing Shooters' Efficiency Ratings in Different Scenarios
Player Team C&S/guarded C&S-unguard OffDribble OffScreen 1-on-1
Jack McClinton Miami 1.07 (72) 1.80 (98) 1.03 (88) 1.12 (78) 1.07 (90)
James Harden ASU 0.79 (38) 1.39 (85) 0.65 (36) 0.93 (54) 0.88 (73)
Wayne Ellington UNC 1.31 (91) 1.33 (78) 0.90 (75) 1.00 (63) 0.79 (59)
Stephen Curry Davidson 1.05 (70) 1.33 (78) 0.88 (72) 1.30 (91) 0.95 (81)
A.J. Abrams Texas 1.11 (78) 1.27 (73) 0.89 (74) 1.00 (63) 0.66 (37)
Marcus Thornton LSU 1.09 (76) 1.23 (70) 0.68 (40) 1.07 (72) 0.69 (42)
Jodie Meeks Kentucky 0.98 (61) 1.23 (69) 0.95 (82) 1.05 (68) 0.94 (80)
Chase Budinger Arizona 0.92 (55) 1.08 (49) 0.66 (37) 0.80 (36) 0.73 (49)
The numbers in parenthesis are where those stats would put the player percentile-wise in the NBA. While those numbers would naturally adjust when facing harder competition in the NBA, comparing him against his peers shows that McClinton is a quality option at the two-guard. He's also got something else. I don't have a statistical breakdown for this one, only my two eyes. McClinton knows how to show up in big spots. It's what I like to call a "scruff of the neck" mentality. While he may not be the most skillful player on the court, he finds ways to win. Wade also has this ability. The best non-basketball example would be Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, who is a talent in his own right, but has proved time and time again that he can pop off with something special when his team needs him the most. Just take a look at McClinton's Hurricanes profile and do a Ctrl+F search for "second." Lots of comebacks, lots of top-performances. The final factor is a non-performance factor, but could play a very important factor in the decision. McClinton, as I said, went to the University of Miami and, considering basketball is largely considered a red-headed stepchild of a sport, was wildly popular. It became possible to see basketball jerseys at football games, instead of vice-versa, for the first time in the 2008 season. Those jerseys were always #33. The Heat are in a perpetual struggle to continually attract fans. They don't do terribly, but during the 2008-2009 season they were 15th in the NBA in attendance, down from ninth the previous season. What better way to put some extra butts in the seats that by picking a guy who already has a track record in the community? Obviously, this shouldn't be the only reason for picking someone, othewise we'd wind up with Bernie Kosar at the point (Lord knows he needs the work). But if it comes down to a tie-breaker situation, this could be a very important card to pull. I'm not going to predict the Heat's second draft pick, because it's No. 60, and that's the NBA's Mr. Irrelevant. If it has the word "irrelevant" in the name, there's not much need to focus on it then, is there? I'm glad we agree.