The Miami Heat failed to make the 2017 NBA playoffs even though they were one of the hottest teams down the stretch. They finished the regular season tied for the eight seed with the Chicago Bulls but lost the tiebreaker. They now have to look for the future, and there is no better time to do that with the NBA Draft right around the corner.
The Heat have a roster full of young talent, and they have a chance to add to that in this draft. There is one position in their lineup that they need to really build upon, at power forward. Looking up and down the list of players that have declared for the NBA Draft, there is one name that I see fitting in right in, TJ Leaf. Leaf is a one-and-done product out of UCLA.
Leaf help lead the Bruins to a 31-5 record in his freshman campaign, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. He averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, while only playing in 29.9 minutes per game. That brings a 40-minute average of 21.7 points, 11 rebounds per game. He showed that he can stretch the floor as well, shooting 46.6 percent from behind the three-point arc.
While he did have a great scoring ability at UCLA, he did so efficiently as well. Leaf shot 61.7 percent from the field in 2017. His ability to shoot the ball inside and outside provides the Heat with another great scoring piece to go along with Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters.
Leaf’s offensive presence wasn’t the only aspect that impressed scouts in his time at UCLA. He averaged over a block a game in 2017, showing that he can bring an inside presence with him to the next level.
The Heat desperately need a starting power forward. With Hassan Whiteside proving he can play well on both sides, the Heat should draft Leaf to add to the dominance on the offensive side of the ball. The Heat will likely not make the playoffs again if they go into the season with Luke Babbitt returning as their starting power forward.
It is time for the Heat to start looking towards their future. With the team showing promise towards the end of the 2017 season, they need to keep adding to their already strong roster. TJ Leaf is the answer in the first round.