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The Heat, the Draft, and the suddenly interesting Conference Finals

I'm just going to touch on a couple things, as there isn't much going on while us Heat fans sit around watching the Playoffs and wait for July 1st to roll around.  However, there is something other then free agency going on this summer that the Heat will have a major part in.  On June 24th, The NBA will do its thing, holding the entry draft in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

Last summer the Heat had a pair of 2nd round picks and left the draft with guard Patrick Beverly and the NBA Draft's version of Mr. Irrelevant (the last pick of the draft), forward Robert Dozier.  Both players left the U.S. to hone their craft in Europe and both had relatively decent seasons, Beverly for Olympiacos Piraeus (Euroleague) and Dozier for VAP Kolossos (Greece). Here are their stats:

Beverly: 17 games, 9.5 min, 3.1 ppg on 53% shooting, 2.0 reb, 0.6 ast and 0.7 stl

Dozier: 28 games, 25.8 min, 9.0 ppg on 50% shooting, 6.4 reb, 0.9 ast, 0.6 stl and 0.6 blk.  He also shot 47.2%   from downtown (17-of-36), taking 1.3 trey's/game.

Who knows, both of these guys could end up on the Heat's roster if their games are up to snuff in the NBA, but that is a big ‘if'.  The price will be right, that's for sure. 

Looking ahead to next months draft, the Heat are in a very nice position with 4 picks to make.  That's a big number in the NBA Draft as there are only 2 rounds and 60 picks.  In the 1st round the Heat hold the 18th overall pick, then in the 2nd round they hold the 41st, 42nd and 48th picks.  Normally yes, that would put the Heat in a very good position. 

However, looking at the Heat's positional needs, this draft class will make it very difficult for the Heat to find what they are looking for.  Difficult yes, impossible no.  Top and bottom, point guard and center, are the positions of need for the Heat.  It's pretty obvious that there are an abundance of power forwards in the free agent market for the Heat to choose from, and at this point its likely that Miami will get a guy better suited to play the 4 and use him as an undersized 5 like they have so many times with Udonis Haslem

That will likely be the case unless they finagle their fundage and sign a ‘less-expensive' (or cheap, lol) big guy who can just play some D, block some shots and play the pick-n-roll.  I doubt they have the cap space to go after a guy like Brendan Haywood, but more realistic players like Ben Wallace or Brad Miller could end up being inexpensive enough to land in Miami.

The problem with the draft is that it appears to be very weak in point guards and centers.  With the PG's, there just isn't much to choose from.  With the centers, there was a bit of disappointment when the official measurements came out and showed how undersized they were.  That hasn't stopped Pat Riley and his scouts from taking a good hard look at the draft's prospects in workouts in both Chicago and Minneapolis in the past week or so. 

If you guys have any ideas or suggestions as to who the Heat may, could or should take in the draft then please share with the rest of us.  I'm not a big college basketball guy (I've only started watching it semi-regularly the past couple years) so I'd love to hear other opinions and ideas.   Looking at what's ahead for Riley and his Heat in the coming weeks, Ira Winderman broke it down quite nicely:

NBA Draft: The Heat holds the No. 18 pick in the first round of the June 24 NBA Draft, as well as the Nos. 41, 42 and 48 picks in the second round.

Cap space: The NBA projects a $56.1 million salary cap for the 2010-11 season, with the Heat likely to go into the July 1 start of free agency carrying only the contracts of Michael Beasley ($5 million), Daequan Cook ($2.2 million), Joel Anthony ($885,000) and Mario Chalmers ($854,000).

Contract deadlines: Players with options who can become restricted free agents (Anthony, Chalmers) must have those options invoked by June 24. Players with options who can become unrestricted free agents (Dwyane Wade, James Jones) must have those options invoked by June 30.

Free agency: Free agents may begin negotiations on July 1, with signings allowed to commence on July 8.

Before I finish, I wanted to briefly touch on the NBA Playoffs.  A week ago I was quite annoyed with how they had been going.  It felt like the subplots and free agent stuff was more interesting then the games and series', and once LeBron and the Cavs were out things seemed to get worse.  Five games into the Conference Finals only 2 of the 4 teams had won any games.  Thank goodness the basketball gods stepped in and made both series much more entertaining. 

Out west, the Suns looked like they had no shot after losing the first 2 games in L.A. by a combined 33 points.  Then they returned home and got a big boost from playing in front of their orange draped fans, beating the Lakers in games 3 and 4 in a pair of very exciting and entertaining 9-point victories.  Unfortunately for the Suns and their fans (at least the ones who listen to the ‘experts'), the back-to-back wins haven't done anything to sway the general consensus amongst NBA know-all's that the Lakers will still undoubtedly win the series.  But who knows...maybe this is the year for the ones wearing orange; look at how well it's worked for the Flyers, who look like they are playing inside of a pumpkin whenever they have a home game. 

Now to the east, where tonight the Magic declared that their win in Game 4 wasn't just a final big burst in their emotional drive to not be swept out of the Conference Finals in a very embarrassing series.  Instead, they are clinging to the same idea that the Miami Dolphins had during their most improbable run to the 2008 AFC East title..."Why not us".  Orlando is looking to become the first team in NBA Playoff history to come back from an 0-3 series deficit.  Before the Magic this year, 93 times has a team put themselves in the dreaded 0-3 hole and all 93 have lost.  As a true, home grown Miami sports fan...it would be pretty sweet to see not one, but two Boston teams lose a playoff series in the same year after leading the series 3 games to none. 

So yeah...its nice to see the NBA Playoffs became interesting again because things were looking pretty bleak for a little while.  And as if that good news wasn't enough, I looked at the schedule for the rest of the Conference Finals and it doesn't look like we'll have any more major layoffs between games.  The series' will go every other day until we've got our two NBA Finals representatives. 

That's probably what's pissed me off more then anything else this Playoff year...how stretched out the NBA made it.  2 and 3 days in between games, and then there was like a week off between the 2nd and 3rd rounds.  Thankfully that stuff appears to be a thing of the past.  As for the respective series', regardless of what the results from here on out at least we've got ourselves some entertaining games ahead.