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Miami Heat Player Countdown: #48-46

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Join us again today as we continue to climb the ladder towards number one. Today, Jason Kapono, Willie Burton, and Kevin Willis.

48. Jason Kapono

Jason Kapono was a 6'8" small forward from Long Beach, CA. Born on February 4th, 1981, he was selected in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 31st overall pick. He played his way onto the 1999 McDonald's All American team while attending Artesia High School in Lakewood, CA. After graduating, He played with the UCLA Bruins as a four year starter, scoring 16.5 points with 5.1 rebounds and two assists per game.

Kapono played 41 games for the Cavaliers as a rookie, spending the next season with the Charlotte Bobcats (81 games). He signed a free agent contract with Miami on October 3rd, 2005, signing for two years and $2,288,000.

In 2005-06, Kapono averaged 4.1 points with 1.4 rebounds in 13 minutes per game. He started twice at small forward, playing in 51 games overall. His shooting percentage was 44.6 overall, and 39.6% from three-point distance. He scored 10 or more points three times, and Miami posted a 30-21 record with him in the game. In the season opener, a 97-78 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, he went three-for-five from three point range in 20 minutes. On January 6th, he scored a season high 16 points with four assists in a 111-93 loss to the Phoenix Suns. He scored equalled his season high on April 5th by scoring 16 points on seven-of-nine shooting while dishing out six assists in a 103-100 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Miami went 52-30 overall, winning the division and a second seed. They won the NBA Championship in 23 games, defeating the Chicago Bulls in six, the New Jersey Nets in five, the Detroit Pistons in six, and the Dallas Mavericks in six. Kapono got into one game, playing two minutes.

2006-07 would see Kapono lead the NBA with a 51.4% success rate from long distance. He started in 35 of his 67 appearances, averaging career highs in every offensive category, with 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and just over a half a steal in 26.4 minutes per game. He finished with two double doubles and scored in double figures 38 times. Miami was 34-33 in games in which Kapono appeared. In a 105-92 Heat win over the Golden State Warriors, he scored 27 points on an 11-for-18 night, adding five rebounds. He scored a season high 28 points on another 11-for-18 performance on February 3rd, as the Heat won 117-98 against the Milwaukee Bucks. On February 25th, in an 86-81 win over Cleveland, he scored 17 points with 11 rebounds. With a 44-38 record, Miami earned the right to match up against the fifth seeded Bulls in the first round. Miami lost four straight to put an end to dreams of a repeat performance. Kapono totalled 20 points and five rebounds, appearing in all four Miami losses.

2009 Foot Locker 3-Point Shootout: Jason Kapono (2nd round) (via PPTheZodiac)

Kapono signed on with the Toronto Raptors soon after the postseason ended, He ended up playing two seasons with the club (161 games), later playing with the Philadelphia 76ers (81 games) and the Los Angeles Lakers (27 games). He spent part of last season with Panathinaikos in Greece.

All-Time HEATline: Two seasons, 118 games, 20.6 minutes, 7.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.0 blocks, 12.3 PER, 5.5 win shares.

47. Willie Burton

Willie Burton, born in Detroit, MI on May 26th, 1968, was a 6'8" small forward for Saint Martin De Porres High in his hometown. He played four seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. His last two seasons with the school would see him average 19 points, seven rebounds, and two assists per game. Miami selected him in the first round of the 1990 draft with the ninth overall pick. He signed a five year contract with Miami for $6,258,000.

Burton's rookie season was his best with Miami. He averaged 12 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He shot 44.1% from the field, playing 25.4 minutes per game, starting in 26 of his 76 appearances. Miami went 22-54 in his appearances, as he racked up 44 games with 10 or more points and five double doubles. On opening night, a 119-95 victory over the Washington Bullets, he hit nine-of-14 shots for 25 points, with three rebounds and two steals. Four nights later, he earned a double double with 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Heat dropped a 106-94 decision to the Milwaukee Bucks. On December 27th, he scored 27 points with 11 rebounds in a 124-114 win over the Denver Nuggets. The Heat finished at 24-58.

In 1991-92, Burton started 50 games at small forward, joining the action off the bench on 18 occasions. He hit 45% of his shots, scoring an average of 11.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. He helped the team to a 29-39 record in his presence. On November 7th, he hit nine-of-12 shots, leading the Heat with 24 points and nine rebounds as they set down the New Jersey Nets 111-89. On the 5th of February, in a 126-124 win over the Golden State Warriors, he scored a season high 28 points with five rebounds and six assists. Miami snuck into the postseason at 38-44, but left quietly in three straight to the Chicago Bulls and their triangle offense. Burton did not make an appearance.

1992-93 would see Burton limited to just 26 games, including eight starts. An average night consisted of eight points, three rebounds, and an assist, as he shot 38.3% in 17.3 minutes per game. His best game was the opener, when he scored a season high 23 points with eight rebounds in a loss to the Orlando Magic, 110-100. Miami went 9-17 with Burton, and 36-46 overall.

1993-94 would be Burton's last season with the Heat. He shot 43.8% through 53 games, playing just 13.2 minutes and scoring seven points with 2.6 rebounds per appearance. On December 14th, in a 97-88 loss to the 20-1 Houston Rockets, he scored 17 points with eight rebounds. He scored a season high 28 points on March 22nd in a loss to the Phoenix Suns, 124-118. Miami went 42-40 on their way to a first round exit, three games to two against the Atlanta Hawks. Burton played a total of 11 minutes, scoring two points in the series.

Burton was waived just before the start of the 1994-95 season, where he was quickly picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers. After having totalled 18 three pointers on 75 attempts for the Heat over four years, the Sixers rebranded him as a deep threat. He responded by draining 106-of-275 from outside, a 38.5% success rate. After 53 games with Philadelphia, Burton played with the Hawks (24 games), the San Antonio Spurs (13 games), and the Charlotte Hornets (three games). After his final NBA appearance, he has had stints with Iraklio (Greece), the Oklahoma Storm (USBL), the Idaho Stampede (CBA), PBC Ural Great Perm (Russia), the Great Lakes Storm (CBA), and Sagesse (Lebanon). For curiousity's sake, does anyone have any idea where Burton is now?

All-Time HEATline: Four seasons, 223 games, 20.9 minutes, 10.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, 12.6 PER, 5.7 win shares.

46. Kevin Willis

Kevin Willis was a 7' center for the Michigan State University Spartans. Born on September 6th, 1962, the Los Angeles native played prep ball with Pershing High in Detroit, MI. He joined the Spartans after one season at a junior college, and ended up playing three seasons there, averaging 12 points and 8.5 rebounds through his last two seasons. The Atlanta Hawks selected him in the first round of the 1984 NBA Draft, with the 11th overall pick.

Willis played 724 games in just over nine seasons with the Hawks, making the all-star team in 1991-92. He rejoined the team much later in his career, bringing his all-time stats for the team to 753 games (fourth all-time), 10,582 points (seventh all-time), 7,332 rebounds (third all-time), 581 steals (eighth all-time), and 425 blocks (ninth all-time). Two seasons into the 1994-95 season, the Hawks traded him with a draft pick (Walter McCarty) to the Heat for Grant Long, Steve Smith, and a draft pick (Joe Vogel). Miami inherited a four year, $11,675,000 contract in it's third season. Miami would be responsible for $6,625,000.

Willis started in most of his 67 games with the Heat that season, playing nearly three quarters per appearance. He averaged a double double, with an average of 17.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He shot 46.9% from the floor. As advertised, Willis was a double-double machine, racking up 38 of them and scoring in double digits every time save five. He scored 31 points with 17 rebounds on December 2nd as the Heat beat the New Jersey Nets, 115-97. On December 21st, he scored 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting with 24 rebounds, playing 50 minutes of a 122-112, 2OT win over the Milwaukee Bucks. In a 100-99 loss to the Boston Celtics on March 21st, he racked up 20 points and 20 rebounds. Despite his heroics, the Heat only managed to finish with a 32-50 record.

In 1995-96, Willis played in 47 games, starting 42 at power forward. He shot 47.3% from the field and averaged 28.9 minutes, 10.2 points, and 8.9 rebounds per game. He finished in double figures 26 times with 17 double doubles. On December 23rd in an 87-75 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, he led the team with 22 points and 18 rebounds. He scored 25 points with 15 rebounds on January 4th in a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics, 84-81. On February 3rd, he scored 13 points with a season high 21 rebounds in a 100-99 loss to the Boston Celtics. Miami posted a 22-25 record with Willis. On February 22nd, the Heat sent him with Bimbo Coles to the Golden State Warriors for Chris Gatling and Tim Hardaway.

90s - Kevin Willis MIX by MISIEK (via TheKingMisiek)

After finishing out the season with Golden State (28 games), Willis later played for the Houston Rockets (156 games), the Toronto Raptors (156 games), the Denver Nuggets (43 games), the Rockets again (52 games), the San Antonio Spurs (119 games), the Hawks for a second time (29 games), and the Dallas Mavericks (five games). He ranks fifth on the NBA's all-time games played leaderboard, with 1,424, and 23rd in rebounds, with 11,901. He currently runs a clothing line for big and tall men, "Willis & Walker."

All-Time HEATline: Two seasons, 112 games, 32.7 minutes, 14.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 14.6 PER, 5.7 win shares.