The Miami Heat finished the 2016-17 season tied with the Chicago Bulls for the 8th best record in the Eastern Conference. After starting the season 11-30, the team finished the season with an astounding 30-11 record. They showed potential to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference but there is still room to grow and get better. That all starts with the NBA Draft and with it being a little over a week away, we will look at some prospects that could fit with the Heat in the Draft. Today, we look at a talented power forward out of the University of Utah, Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma is a 6’9”, 221 pound forward with the ability to score and rebound at an elite level. In his junior season with the Utes, he averaged 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in 31.2 minutes per game on the floor. For a low-post player, he also showed potential to be a stretch four at the next level. While he only shot 32.1 percent from 3-point land, it was an improvement from 26 percent from the prior season and he hit almost one three per game for the Utes, showing his ability to stretch the floor.
According to Draft Express, Kuzma is ranked as the No. 42 prospect in the draft but after a strong showing at the NBA Combine has been projected anywhere from mid-first round all the way to late second round or even undrafted in various mock drafts. Out of the NCAA juniors in the draft, he ranks 5th and he is the 8th best prospect to come out of the Pac-12. He may be a stretch at No. 14, but the Heat may be intrigued by his game and could look to acquire a later pick to nab him.
The one place to look for improvement will be on the defensive side of the ball. Kuzma averaged only 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. He also will need to improve his shooting from the line, as he shot 66.9 percent from the line last season.
The potential is there for Kuzma and he could create a terrific duo with Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside brings an imposing presence on the defensive side of the ball and where he lacks on offense, Kuzma could pick up for him. Kuzma, once he develops, could take a lot of pressure off of Whiteside as well.
With Miami’s proven track record of player development, Kuzma down the road could provide depth for the Heat at either forward position. He could be quite the project for the team but I see Kuzma as a great fit for the Heat.