Kawhi Leonard – 15th in 2011 (via Indiana Pacers)
Isaiah Thomas – 60th in 2011
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 15th in 2013
Rudy Gobert – 27th in 2013
Jimmy Butler – 30th in 2011
Draymond Green – 35th in 2012
DeAndre Jordan – 35th in 2008
Of the 15 players selected to the three All-NBA teams in 2017, almost half (7), were picked 15 or below. Surprisingly three of them were selected in the second round.
NONE on these teams were undrafted players. Ben Wallace and Bruce Bowen, both of whom made their mark as exceptional lock-down defenders, were the exceptions in previous years. The Miami Heat hope to find the next one(s).
What made them beat out so many top-five choices? We only know through the marvelous luxury of 20/20 hindsight. Will the Heat strike gold against the odds this year and come up with a quality player, who looks great in hindsight?
I don't underestimate the addition of Shane Battier to the Heat's development team, nor its successes in mining talent from overlooked NBA D-League players. With additional 16th and 17th spots available, doubling down on finding untapped talent looks even more promising in spotting future NBA players. Notably, the new two-way deals carry potential Bird Rights with them, making possible resigning the successes outside of cap space.
The overlooked raw talent takes a few years to shine. Hopefully this will be the season, when the Heat picks from a couple of years back, emerge on the NBA stage.
Meanwhile the Heat have a chance to add to their pipeline of promising talent this week. Trust the process and Pat Riley.