The HHH team has a few ideas about who the Heat should target. Given their needs and who could potentially be available, here’s who we think the Heat should target with their first-round pick this summer.
HEAT DRAFT TARGETS
MATT PINEDA: @pinedaHEAT — VERNON CAREY JR. (DUKE)
Vernon Carey Jr. has been valued all over the place, so it is hard to tell where he will go. NBADraft.net has him at 12, CBS has him at 26, and SBN put him at 30 — so he could very well be in the Heat’s range.
Carey is a 6’10, 270 lbs center who can shoot from range but is also dominant on the block. He’s big...and you may ask: Why another big, we already have Bam? I’m not trying to replace Bam, I’m trying to replace Meyers Leonard. Meyers is a free agent and has been a valuable asset next to Bam Adebayo in the starting lineup, allowing Bam to play PF. I’m not suggesting Carey is ready to start in the NBA, but he has the tools that Meyers has and the potential for a whole lot more. He can shoot from deep, but also is a shot-blocker, and someone you can give it to on the block.
His biggest concern is going to be guarding the perimeter, but it’s not like Meyers Leonard was great at that anyway. I don’t know what the Heat will do with Leonard as a free agent, but I think Carey, with the Heat’s player development he will be good.
DIEGO QUEZADA: @DiegoHeatNBA — AARON NESMITH (VANDERBILT)
The 2019-20 Miami Heat season has seen Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson all surpass expectations. Given the assumption that they’ll continue to develop, Miami should draft a wing.
Aaron Nesmith checks a lot of boxes for the Heat. He’s a dynamite 3-point shooter — in 8.2 attempts per game from deep this season, Nesmith made 52 percent of them. (Nesmith only played in 14 games his sophomore season.) He would fit right in to the Heat’s offense, and would feast off Bam Adebayo dribble hand-offs.
The Heat have some question marks among their wings moving forward. Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. will both be free agents. Andre Iguodala will be with the Heat, but how effective will he be at 36 years old? We don’t know if KZ Okpala will pan out; he’s spent most of the season with the Skyforce. In Nesmith, the Heat will have a talented potential 3-and-D guy. With some development in the Heat system, Nesmith could become a solid player next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
SURYA FERNANDEZ: @SuryaHeatNBA — JALEN SMITH (MARYLAND)
It may have initially been a surprise at the beginning of the season, but ultimately it was a wise decision by the Heat coaching staff to start Meyers Leonard alongside Bam Adebayo, allowing the future All-Star room to dramatically improve his multi-faceted game without the burden of being the lone big man. But Leonard’s injury showed just how deep the Heat truly are in that category and it was one of the reasons the team couldn’t sustain their level of play once he sat. Should Leonard continue with the Heat or not, the franchise needs to find another talented big man in the first round and Jalen Smith sure seems as if he has Heat Culture written all over him.
He may not approach the level of dynamism that Adebayo almost effortlessly displays on the court, but Smith shows plenty of energy and grit around the rim and the kind of swiftness heading down the court to help finish transition plays, or to shake free of his defender for a good look at the basket, that should translate well in the NBA. If he is available by the time the Heat make their pick, it would be tantalizing to see what their coaches could do with him over time.
Jalen “Sticks” Smith is a 6-foot-10 forward from Maryland. He’s long and athletic, with the ability to impact the game on both ends of the court; he can rebound, run the floor and block shots. He’s gotten stronger and really protects the rim. Smith is an active forward who hasn’t really shown his full array of skills yet, but he’ll get that chance. He’s playing center but really is a forward. Stretch 4 will be his gig, as he will be a good pick-and-pop forward at the next level. Maybe Rasheed Wallace with better handles.
BRANDON DI PERNO: @brandon_diperno — JALEN SMITH, (MARYLAND)
Usually I use March Madness to make my decision here, but since we’re in the March Sadness bracket this year I’m not really sure. The Heat are obviously not a lottery team headed into the draft and usually anybody I think they’re going to pick they don’t (i.e Kevin Porter Jr.) but they are adept at finding diamonds in the rough (hello J-Rich!) so my prediction is probably useless here.
Still, I’ve seen Maryland’s Jalen Smith’s name mentioned in some mock drafts, so I think he could potentially land with the Heat. But I know in this case I will ultimately be proven wrong, and likely for the better.
So...we have TWO QUESTIONS for you!
1: Of these prospects, who do you like the most for the Heat?
2: Not on the list, who are we missing that the Heat have a realistic shot to draft and you think would be a great fit?
SHARE your thoughts below.