At 17-18 the Miami Heat have followed the script most forecasters predicted this past summer.
So far the starters have been gifted their roles by going through the motions with no competition for minutes and responded as expected due to not having a “healthy paranoia” of losing their entitled status.
Perhaps Dion Waiters, or an unheralded prospect from the Skyforce, or the 2019 NBA draft selection might take off his kid gloves to shake up the Heat’s current march to mediocrity.
Baring any lucky bounces among the lottery balls Miami is projected to have the 13th pick as of today.
Prospects rise and fall during the season, but some mock drafts have these players as potential picks who hopefully have the makings of a future NBA All-Star.
Since the Heat incorporates a zone defense in their schemes, the players are listed by wingspan from longest to shortest.
NBAdraftroom: PJ Washington - 20 year old, 6’8”, 235 lbs, 7’3” wingspan, power forward from University of Kentucky
“Well built and strong power forward who is very skilled at scoring the ball. He doesn’t have elite athleticism but he’s got length and he’s a well rounded player with a mature game and a lot of natural talent...His passing ability stands out for a PF and he can initiated the offense from the high post and shows great court vision... Washington is a warrior on the court and plays to win. He has an advanced understanding of the game and shows a high amount of polish and refinement for such a young player. His awareness on the court and his knowledge of the game make him a glue-guy who helps the team win, even when he’s not filling up the stat sheet.”
NBAdraftroom: KZ Okpala - 20 year old, 6’9”, 215 lbs, 7’2” wingspan, small forward from Stanford University
“KZ is a freakishly long athlete with a ridiculous 7-2 wingspan and a long, wiry frame. He’s built along the lines of a longer Trevor Ariza or Bruno Caboclo (but way more skilled than Bruno)....KZ surprises with his ball-handling ability, as he’s able to dribble in traffic and drive the ball in tight spaces. He’s got a quick first step and his length around the rim gives him an unfair advantage....His three point shooting has gone to a new level this year (although he still struggles from the FT line) and if this small sample size pans out, he’ll have a long and successful NBA career.”
SportsIllustrated: Rui Hachimura - 20 year old, 6’8”, 230 lbs, 7’2’’ wingspan, power forward from Gonzaga.
“In midst of a big season for Gonzaga, Hachimura’s college production has caught up to his talent level, but there are still some legitimate questions at the NBA level, and a team will have to put a lot resources into helping him reach his potential.”
“For those who aren’t familiar, Culver is a 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 skinny guard with legit B- to A- level skills across the board (dribbling including basic change of direction moves, ability to win off the dribble, passing, rebounding, individual defense, team defense, creating events, off the catch jump shot, off the dribble jump shot, decision making, etc…) with the exception of free throw shooting (often but not always very important) where his 70 percent or thereabouts mark is a firm C/C+, and without any elite NBA skill or ability for his current height. Which would of course change, the grades all being bumped up, if he does indeed end up 2 or 3 inches taller than he is now.”
Bleacher Reports: Nassir Little – 18 year old, 6’6”, 220 lbs, 7’1” wingspan small forward from Univ. of North Carolina.
“He possesses an appealing mix of power and quickness, along with a skill set that includes face-up moves and dribble jumpers. His tools and athleticism are further ahead of his offense. Having shot 5-of-22 from three with only eight assists all season, Little isn’t an advanced shot-creator or shot-maker.”
NBAdraftroom: Sekou Doumboya – 18 year old, 6’9”, 230 lbs, 6’11” wingspan, small forward from France started his professional basketball at the age of 15 in Europe.
“A big run/jump athlete who is dynamic in the open court and has elite defensive potential. Has very good quickness for his size and is a powerful and graceful athlete who is fun to watch in the open court. He projects as a high level defender who can guard multiple positions, from 2-5. If he can reach his defensive potential he’ll have a long NBA career, even if his offensive game doesn’t develop. The fact that he lists Tony Allen as one of his idols and modals his game after Paul George tells you a lot about his commitment to defense.”
Besides the youths above Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten have been on fire for the Skyforce over the last ten games: Robinson made 48 of his 93 point tries (52%), while Maten has converted 85 of his 139 overall attempts (61%) and 16 of 33 (48%) from deep.
None of the above are polished products, but gauging their mental toughness to overcome the challenges of a NBA career might be the most difficult job a scout has in deciding who to pick.
With the mid-point of the NBA season almost here, the coaches will soon discover which players on the Heat will be ready to carry on the championship tradition Dwyane Wade worked so hard to bring to Miami.