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Draft or D-League? Heat’s approach revolutionizes path to NBA success

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Miami Heat’s new way to contention could change how NBA builds teams.

NBA: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat unparalleled success in mining NBA D-League talent may lead other teams to change their minds to gamble their franchise’s future on teenager draft choices. Of all the 420 draft picks since 2010, only 8, or a tiny 2%, made a 2017 All-NBA team. Of those selected, 6 were still on the board by the time of the Heat’s current 14th slot.

For the first time, new two-way contracts allow Miami a choice to trade down for extra picks and play the odds to see if extra draft selections ever make it past the NBA G-League. shows the flaws when scouts overestimate the importance of athletic ability to succeed in the NBA. The weaknesses of the following players, who teams passed on (2010-2016), were overcome by maximizing whatever talents they possessed to make the All-NBA Teams in 2017.


Does not have one aspect offensively that stands out or which allows him to consistently score the ball … With his size and frame, will almost certainly be a perimeter player at the next level, but he lacks the polish and skill necessary to consistently operate on the wing … He does not have break down ability off the dribble and he is especially shaky handling the ball with his left hand.


Very small, even for a point guard … Ability to get inside will be largely negated by the size of NBA players … Shoot first point guard who sometimes struggles with turnovers … Will struggle to matchup with NBA guards defensively … Sometimes hurts his team by trying to make highlight reel plays instead of making the simple pass … Prone to over-dribbling.


His level of competition is a big concern, because it makes judging his talent and current level very difficult. Without question he has a large basement to go with his large ceiling ... Despite his athletic abilities he lacks elite explosiveness ... He has to bulk up, working especially in the lower body since he’s definitely too skinny to face NBA opponents at the moment... Plus he basically has no mid-range game, he tends to attack the rim without considering the option of the pull up jumper ... He shot 31.3 % from three point line this year, showing good potential, but he lacks consistency at this point, his mechanics seems unnatural and not fluent.


He needs to bulk up his upper body, in order to be able to withstand the extra physicality at the NBA level ... Lacks great leaping ability, though his length helps … His shooting range is limited to the painted area, and needs to be expanded … Mostly faces the basket and needs to work on his back to basket moves ... He lacks a jump shot from the midrange and also is predictable and mechanical in his moves, lacking fluidity, even though he’s pretty reliable from the free throw line ... At times, his lack of a great feel for the game becomes apparent as he fails to recognize plays before they develop or doesn't finish off plays with enough aggression.


One of those great college basketball players that doesn't excel in any one particular area ... Tweener, undersized for a physical forward yet lacks the athleticism of a wing ... Lacks explosiveness, agility, elusiveness and quickness off the bounce ... Under the rim finisher, which is troublesome when you consider his size ... Not a threat to shake his defender off the dribble ... Minimal upside ... Vulnerable defending quicker guards on the perimeter.


Good all-around player, but lacks any one great skill... Fits the "jack of all trades, master of none" mold ... Not a stand-out athlete ... Hasn't proven that he can consistently create offense for himself ... Not an isolation player, feeds off the play of his teammates ... Could really open up his game by adding range to his jump shot ... Hasn't shown that he can be a consistent threat from behind the arc.

These were all available at the 14th spot, but so were 316 others who were drafted, but didn’t make the grade. The chances for picking a top-30 talent comes out to be 1.86%, or less than 2% over 7 years.

Miami keeps a sharp eye as teenagers become men, to see which ones can beat the odds. The one success out of fifty leads to great anticipation of hitting the jackpot, but the other 49 who don’t make it drag teams down to mediocrity, or worse, for years to come.

On his podcast Zach Lowe points out the Miami Heat Culture has become a thing in the NBA, because experienced free agents can get a second chance for a big payday. Perhaps another maligned free agents, such as Rudy Gay may available for a rebirth, on a reasonable contract.

Praying for a second Dwyane Wade excites fans, but come May time losing gets depressing. If Alonzo Mourning’s words mean anything, Miami’s next season might be special, and surprise people who look in rear view mirrors.

He senses the under 25-year or younger potential of Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Okaro White, Rodney McGruder could be reached for breakout performances by them, as their game matures. Their time has arrived.