With no draft picks in 2016, the Miami Heat have a clean slate for undrafted players to prove scouts wrong by not selecting them last week. In the NBA, pick-and-rolls sets demand high basketball IQ, as well as athletic ability. What these guys lack in raw skills, could translate better in today's sophisticated NBA schemes, instead of simply being the biggest and strongest kid in college or high school.
Bleacher Report states that, "Believe it or not, the NBA continues to trend toward the idea it's better for a prospect to go undrafted, a notion the 2016 NBA draft reinforced in a big way.
"What used to be borderline shameful now stands as quite the attractive option because falling undrafted means a prospect has his choice of several teams instead of getting stuck in an undesirable situation."
They list Alex Poythress, Sheldon McClellan and Robert Carter as prospects signed by other teams, who the Heat can watch closely and give invites to the pre-season camp, if not taken off the market.
Newcomers Miami have offered spots on their Summer League team are listed below.
KENNY GABRIEL (AUBURN)
Gabriel went undrafted in 2012 after three years in Auburn. After Summer League he started his professional career in Israel with Maccabi Ashdod. In 2013-14 he played with Rethymno Aegan of the Greek Basketball League. The following season, 2014-15, he joined Pınar Karşıyaka of the Turkish Basketball League. At 26 and three years of professional competition, he will get a chance to show whether he can play at the NBA level.
NIC MOORE (SMU)
His story about becoming a potential Isaiah Thomas (5'9") is described by RealGM.
"Moore is about as good a basketball player as anyone who is rather generously listed at 5’9 170 can be. A guy with his size had better be extremely fast (which he is), have an extremely high basketball IQ (which he has) and not have any holes in his game (which he doesn’t). Moore has made the most out of his physical limitations, maximizing every part of his game and leaving nothing on the table. He’s able to consistently dominate opponents who tower over him and get around them like they aren’t even there. Moore is so good that you walk into every game expecting David to knock off Goliath."
DAVID WALKER (NORTHEASTERN)
@Dwalker2393 congrats man. That's awesome— Matt Stuczynski (@mstuczy1) June 25, 2016
A SI profile on him says,
"At 6’6" and 196 pounds, Walker already stands out among college guards, and his combination of outside shooting (41.3% from three) and playmaking ability have made him an intriguing second-round NBA draft prospect."
" 'In the NBA now, everyone is talking about size and length,' says an Eastern Conference scout. 'And he has both.' He also separates himself with a high basketball IQ. He can recite the progression of his pick-and-roll reads like the pledge of allegiance."
"You gotta know what the coverage is," Walker says. "If they’re showing, if they’re hard showing, you have to attack the ball screen, try to get over the big and get in the paint, draw two, kick it out and get them in rotation. If not, they’re bumping hard off the corner, I look for the throw back. If they go under the screen, I’m letting it fly. If they’re soft, I look for the pocket pass. If they’re hedging, try to get around the big and into the paint."
CHRIS HORTON (AUSTIN PEAY)
Draft Express ranked 90th of the 100 seniors this year. In an article about the 6'-9" forward, the reporter writes,
"While he isn’t the biggest center in the NCAA, Horton is a big body to move in the paint. He is a force on both ends of the floor in terms of rebounds, and can finish around the basket for easy points on second-chance opportunities. His presence inside opens things up for the guards on the outside, creating a ‘pick your poison’ type scenario for their opponents on a nightly basis."
Local Clarksville paper highlights his achievements,
"Horton, the ninth player in Division I history with 1,700 points, 1,200 rebounds and 300 blocked shots, put a stamp on his APSU career in a big way this spring. Horton completed his Austin Peay career by averaging 18.8 points, shooting 59.9 percent from the floor, and 12.0 rebounds per game—fifth best nationally. Horton led all Division I in offensive rebounding (4.92/game) and was fourth nationally in double-doubles (25)."
NORVEL PELLE (ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA)
Ridiculous Upside believes Pelle's experience in Lebanon may finally have made him at 23 years old, a legitimate candidate for the next level.
"In the early goings of his stint with Delaware, it became increasingly clear that Pelle was already beginning to carve out a clear-cut niche in the D-League. He was an impressive shot-blocker, could rebound the ball, as well as serve as an intimidating defensive presence down in the low post. He could do all of the dirty work."
"As his awareness on the offensive end continues to develop, Pelle will be adding some nice versatility to his game. By the time he returns home, he may be ready for another stateside look, perhaps from an NBA team during Summer League. Exploring potential diamonds in the rough is what the Las Vegas and Orlando sessions are all about, and there's no doubt Pelle could go on to pay dividends for a team without much to lose and a summer roster spot to fill."
STEFAN JANKOVIC (HAWAII)
He broadcast the invite on his Twitter account @StefanJ33.
Hawaii News Now reported on his intense motivation to prove his doubters wrong.
"I have a really, really, really good opportunity right now with the Miami Heat," Jankovic said. "It's on me. I just have to play basketball and show them I belong in the NBA."
"It kind of pissed me off a little bit more which is good. That saying 'playing with a chip on your shoulder' really is true."
DraftExpress points out his strengths and weaknesses.
"Jankovic stands out due to his rare combination of size, skills and smarts at the small forward position, standing 6-9, with terrific ball-handling ability. He is a fluid athlete with good mobility and the ability to play above the rim, and does an excellent job creating his own shot from the perimeter with either hand and getting to the basket with a nice first step and a terrific crossover. He'll regularly grab a rebound and handle the ball himself coast to coast, showing a little Hedo Turkoglu-type flair in the process."
"Defensively is where Jankovic might have to improve the most to show that he can play on the perimeter full time at the highest levels. His lateral quickness is just average guarding small forwards, and his effort level can look problematic at times. He has a tendency to shy away from contact at times, leading some to question his passion and toughness."
DAMION LEE (LOUISVILLE)
Draft Express president Jonathan Givony said about Lee,
"He can score. He knows how to put the ball in the basket," Givony said. "He’s showed it everywhere he’s been. That’s attractive. He can really shoot the ball. That’s a commodity in the NBA. He also showed he can do a little bit more than that. He answered some questions about his defense. His year with (U of L coach Rick Pitino) really helped him in that regard."
KEVIN TUMBA (CONGO)
Tumba is an international prospect with experience as a center. He made his professional debut in the 2011–12 season with Belfius Mons-Hainaut, and later signed a contract with Belgian Eurocup team Proximus Spirou Charleroi.
VICTOR RUDD (USF)
Rudd played college basketball at Arizona State (2009-10) and at Southern Florida (2011-14), then spent the 2014-15 season on the Delaware 87ers (NBADL), and later on moved to Russia for the 2015-16 season with the Nizhny Novgorod team, where he was named to the 2015-16 All-Eurocup Second Team and the 2015-16 Eurocup Eightfinals game-1 MVP. His Russian head coach said,"He is a very interesting player who can play at both forward positions. Despite his solid frame, Rudd has great ball-handling. Victor fits in our playing style, he is very aggressive on offense."
JUWAN HOWARD, JR (DETROIT)
Howard will try to step out of his dads footsteps to prove he's a NBA player in his own right. Last season he continued his career overseas after signing with Club Baloncesto Breogan of the Spanish League, whose coach noted, "Howard is a player who can score in different ways. His ability to play the post and attack low, in situations one-on-one, from the pick-and-roll, and he has a great outside shot."
OKARO WHITE (FSU)
Draft Express' scouting report from 2013 says,
"From a physical and athletic perspective, White looks the part of a prototypical NBA small forward at 6'8 with a 204-pound frame and with a 6'11 wingspan. While he must continue to get stronger, he has added 24 pounds to his wiry frame since his senior year in high school and should continue to be able to fill out his impressive frame, especially given the fact that he is a year younger than many in his class, just having turned 21 a few days ago. He is also an excellent athlete for his size, quick laterally and in the open floor, and explosive around the basket, giving him significant room for growth as his skill-level continues to round out."
"He still struggles as a ball-handler, however, lacking the ability to put the ball on the floor for more than a couple of dribbles and, even then, still is only capable of straight line drives to the basket. For these reasons, he rarely is unable to create his own shot effectively, confined more or less to having his teammates create looks for him."
CHRIS OBEKPA (ST. JOHNS)
Wikipedia outlines Obekpa's natural shot-blocking instincts in this summary, "Obekpa quickly established himself as a premier shot blocker during his freshman campaign in 2012–13. In his first collegiate game, he set a St. John's record with eight blocks. Less than one month later, on 8 December 2012, he recorded a new school record 11 blocks in a game against Fordham; this total was one shy of the Big East Conference record. Obekpa finished his first year as the top shot blocker in the nation with a 4.03 per game average after recording 133 blocks in 33 games."
NATHAN BOOTHE (TOLEDO)
Chicago Tribune outlines Boothe's strong points, "Boothe's combination of size, skill set and intangibles make him an enticing NBA prospect, noted Dickey Simpkins, the former Bulls power forward who coached Boothe as part of his Next Level Performance AAU team. 'If you look at the way the college and now the NBA game is evolving, there's definitely a place for a guy like Nate. He has some obvious skills, a big guy who can shoot and pass and put the ball on the floor.' "
They join undrafted prospect Michael Carrera, whose signing was previously reported earlier this week.
Whoever doesn't make the cut for the pre-season squad can pursue pro careers either in the NBA D-League for more seasoning, or overseas if they can land a contract there. Whatever happens, these young prospects will keep the current players on their toes and remind them to never take life in the NBA for granted.