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Could the Miami Heat find a surprising undrafted prospect?

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Aside from the Kevin Durant chatter, Miami Heat have other free agents, as well as undrafted prospects, to consider after the summer signing season begins July 6th.

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Just because the Miami Heat do not have a first-round pick this year in the NBA Draft doesn't rule out finding an uncut gem waiting to be polished. One of the top-60 prospects this year from DraftExpress includes Gary Payton II, who is the son of former Heat Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton. Some regard him as the "2016 NBA Draft Sleeper."

The skinny on his prospects as #48 in DraftExpress' mock draft is, "Lacking a degree of high level experience, Payton's combination of athleticism, defensive potential, and solid playmaking ability make him a fairly intriguing prospect nonetheless. More raw than many players his age, Payton's lack of great polish as a shooter and ball handler are concerns, but also areas that he could conceivably make strides in down the road."

The reality of having only five players on the court and 15 on a roster, makes breaking into the NBA extremely difficult. The Heat have four under 30-year-old development projects in Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Briante Weber. A young prospect would face long odds to be included in the mix.

Having said that, here are several hopefuls attending tryouts seeking to land a spot on a NBA team.

  • Anthony Bennett
  • Bobby Brown
  • Dwight Buycks
  • Chris Copeland
  • Jordan Crawford
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts
  • Pierre Jackson
  • Cory Jefferson
  • Grant Jerrett
  • Alex Kirk
  • Ognjen Kuzmic
  • Ray McCallum
  • Phil Pressey
  • Peyton Siva
  • Greg Stiemsma
  • Adonis Thomas
  • Royce White

Some Skyforce alumni, such as Greg Whittington, Jabril Trawick, DeAndre Liggins, Rodney McGruder and Keith Benson may get second looks after the team's record 46-11 season. Coach Dan Craig knows the NBA Development League intimately, and could give invaluable advice on unearthing another potential steal from the D-League, such as the Heat found in Hassan Whiteside.

Anthony Bennett can relate to Whiteside's journey to the status of a coveted free agent in Miami. Could lightening strike twice for the Heat with Bennett? Bennett's story sounds just like Whiteside's, "There are a lot of people from media, from high school, from whatever that are doubting him. It's a daily battle for him."

Though Gary Payton II will probably be drafted, prospects No. 61-75 on the DraftExpress list present a possible player to fill out the Summer League team, or even merit a training camp invite. These names are not well known due to their perceived flaws, but could provide hidden opportunities for development down the road.

  • Damion Lee
  • Joel Bolomboy
  • Yogi Ferrell
  • Marcus Paige
  • Isaiah Cousins
  • Blaz Mesicek
  • Isaiah Taylor
  • Perry Ellis
  • Aleksandar Vezenkov
  • Georges Niang
  • Tim Quarterman
  • Derrick Jones
  • Mathias Lessort
  • Tyrone Wallace
  • James Webb III

An example is Marcus Paige, who has a smooth spot-up shooting stroke, but is limited athletically. Not listed in the 2016 mock draft, he could be a candidate for a look to help address the Heat's shooting woes from beyond the arc. James Ennis was an example of ultra-athletic rookie, who had the dunk of the year, but didn't shoot reliably enough or develop a handle to stay on the roster.

Paige doesn't fit the classic Heat mold of athleticism, but may perform decently on defense to warrant a peek as the prototype of the new jump-shooting NBA. Hitting "the shot" in college, Paige would serve as the heir apparent to the Miami's former point guard, Mario Chalmers.

Per an insightful comment, another promising collegiate player, who may not be drafted, is speedy point guard Isaiah Taylor. NBAdraft.net writes about him, "One of the fastest point guards in the NCAA, Taylor has immense potential in the transition game and his elite change of direction ability and foot speed make him a real threat to get into the lane ... He has a deadly floater, an array of one handlers, and is a creative finisher. Isaiah is clearly used to getting off high degree of difficulty shots over taller players ... He’s a strong ball handler, and right now looks to be able to carry over these skills in the drive and kick game in the NBA. For a young guy (20 years old) he seems to have a nice foundation in the pick and roll game."

Derrick Jones is another high-flyer outside the top 60, who appears like a young version of Gerald Green with his dunks. Another lefty shooter, he has a bit of Dwyane Wade's competitiveness in him with a Wade-type of stare-down after posterizing his defender (at 2:29 mark). At-the-rim scorers have problems in the NBA, because teams pack the paint against them. Dead-eye shooters, who can defend, fit the style of today's NBA.

The free agent pool of experienced talent will provide Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra with difficult choices on constructing the Heat roster for 2016-17. The last two seasons some veterans have not met expectations, while a few of the young players exceeded them. Taking a chance on finding a sleeper who has breakout potential could pay off more handsomely than signing a veteran without significant upside left in the tank.

Risk versus reward: that is always the question to be answered when signing a player to a contract.