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Miami Heat probably won’t get much help on NBA Draft Night unless they ace their pick

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Pat Riley and company will be busy juggling the possibilities this summer as the NBA Draft approaches.

NBA: Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have about a 5% chance for a top four pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Otherwise they’ll have the lowest pick among their Eastern Conference (EC) peers.

As things stand today the draft may not help Miami unless:

  1. The lottery balls align perfectly for the #1 spot, or even a top-four draft prospect would do
  2. The scouting staff finds the next Giannis Antetokounmpo (#15) or Kawhi Leonard (#15) in the 13th slot

Below are the EC lottery picks in reverse order of their regular season standings. The final draft order is subject to how the lottery plays out on May 14th. Second-round draft picks are listed as well.

The Heat choose last after all the other Eastern lottery teams made their selections. Notably the Hawks have two top-ten draft prospects among their options. Including second-round prospects, the Heat and Wizards are the only teams among their counterparts from the East with a single draft pick this June.

For your information, a table with all 60 preliminary draft picks follows at the end.

Five franchises from Miami’s conference have three or more opportunities to improve their roster with the upcoming draft:

The Hawks and Celtics might have to make difficult choices how to give their respective 2 and 3 first-round selections minutes, while also giving playing time to their current core group. The Heat could potentially help them, or other teams, with a creative swap of veterans and draft picks while shedding salary.

For example one possible scenario involves Hassan Whiteside, if he chooses to exercise his player option. The Hawks badly need help on the defensive end, which Whiteside could provide as their young core matures. A possible win-win exchange may present itself.

The proposition involves shipping Whiteside to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore, Alex Len, and hopefully second-round picks. Another idea is Whiteside and the 13th pick, for Bazemore, Len, and Atlanta’s 5th pick. This just a starting idea with many other possibilities to complete a viable trade, even if they’re somewhat far-fetched.

SNY’s Ian Begley believes a team such as the Knicks might trade their top pick if they snag a future Hall Of Famer such as Kevin Durant.

“In my mind, if you [Knicks] don’t get that number one pick, you’re working the phones all the way from May 14th to draft night to see what you can get in a trade for that 2, 3, 4, 5 pick, whatever it may be,” Begley said. ”Because you’re going to be in win-now mode if Kevin Durant comes here. You’re not going to have the luxury of waiting for an 18, 19-year-old to figure out how to succeed in the NBA.”

The current game plan of waiting until the summer of 2020 when Miami will have more cap space needs to consider roster changes after this summer’s NBA Draft and free agency signings. But another factor also comes into play.

Should the Heat let Whiteside and Goran Dragic walk away and get nothing in return? They may be more valuable as assets in a trade where Miami gets something of value in exchange. The same tenet of maximizing roster value, instead of getting zero for a current contract, could have Pat Riley working his magic yet again.


2019 NBA draft before lottery or trades

TEAM 1ST 2ND ALL PICKS
TEAM 1ST 2ND ALL PICKS
Hawks 2 3 5 5, 9, 35, 41, 44
76ers 1 4 5 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
Celtics 3 1 4 14, 20, 21, 51
Nets 2 1 3 17, 27, 31
Spurs 2 1 3 19, 29, 49
Hornets 1 2 3 12, 36, 52
Pelicans 1 2 3 7, 39, 57
Kings 0 3 3 40, 47, 60
Cavaliers 2 0 2 2, 26
Knicks 1 1 2 1, 38
Suns 1 1 2 3, 53
Bulls 1 1 2 4, 55
Wolves 1 1 2 10, 46
Pistons 1 1 2 15, 50
Magic 1 1 2 16, 45
Pacers 1 1 2 18, 32
Jazz 1 1 2 23, 58
Warriors 1 1 2 28, 43
Clippers 0 2 2 48, 56
Wizards 1 0 1 6
Grizzlies 1 0 1 8
Lakers 1 0 1 11
Heat 1 0 1 13
Thunder 1 0 1 21
Blazers 1 0 1 25
Bucks 1 0 1 30
Mavericks 0 1 1 37
Raptors 0 1 1 59
Nuggets 0 0 0 N/A
Rockets 0 0 0 N/A