Even with the growing speculation before the evening began about the Miami Heat potentially trading their pick, the Heat selected 19-year-old Nikola Jovic from Serbia with the No. 27 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, their only selection of the evening. Let’s dive into the NBA Draft grades and why the pundits graded the Heat the way they did.
Jovic is a 6’11 forward who has impressive 1-on-1 scoring ability for his size. He is comfortable playing out on the perimeter, with pull-up threes and drives to get into his midrange game being an essential part of his scoring package. He’s not a great athlete and will project as a poor defender early in his career, but it’s hard to find players with this much offensive talent at his size. This also feels like a boom-or-bust pick. If anyone can get his body and athleticism to improve, it’s the Heat.
This is a perfectly fine value on Jovic. He has significant defensive concerns, but Jovic is incredibly skilled for a player of his height and size. He isn’t a total knockdown shooter, but his feel is very good and he’s a high-end passer. The thing is figuring out how to hide him on the other end.
Jovic has a ton of skill to go along with size. The shooting percentages aren’t great, but don’t let that fool you. He’s young, and he might need a little while to be impactful for a franchise like Miami. He’ll need to work on his body, but he can dribble, pass and shoot.
Fox Sports: B+
Playing in Serbia and winning the Young Player of the Year award in the Adriatic League this past season, Jovic possesses a fascinating skillset as a shooter and distributor at his size. The reviews on him from those in the know internationally are that he has an exceptional handle. Not only can he attack the rim, but Jović averaged almost four assists per game this past season. He’s also a very high IQ player. The issues? Jović lacks strength and that impacts him negatively as a defender. He’s far from a finished product, but the defense needs a ton of work. He is very versatile, though.
The Miami Heat could use backup options at center beyond Bam Adebayo, so this pick makes sense. It’s difficult to give out a grade on such an unfinished product, but because of Jović’s offensive versatility and the Heat’s track record of developing players, this is a good landing spot.
I thought Nikola Jovic would be chosen five or so picks earlier than this. He has huge upside and will fill a need as a depth big man. He has risk, but the same could be said of any player chosen in the 20s.
Jovic is a great shooter and hit 13 straight corner 3-pointers during his pro day in Chicago. He’ll need some work adjusting to the pace of the NBA game and needs to work on his pick-and-roll reads to develop outside of being just a designated shooter.
The Heat took one of the top international prospects in this class in Jovic. The savvy offensive-minded forward will add a versatile scoring and playmaking punch to a Heat team that could desperately use it. Miami’s renowned player development will certainly get the most out of this 19-year-old.
Jovic is a 6’10” forward with guard skills on the perimeter. That’s interesting. He’s also an inefficient shooter from all over and a defensive liability lacking the mobility to handle guards and the strength to bang with bigs. That’s potentially hugely problematic.
His landing spot was important, and Miami has made a habit out of acing developmental projects. If the Heat can harness his outside shot, they’ll fill a need for a stretch big.
Jovic doesn’t help the Heat immediately, but this is a nice landing spot for him to develop his overall game. Miami will help him improve defensively, which is the key to him being a productive NBA player.
Jovic might end up being one of the best picks in the NBA Draft. The 6-foot-10 Serbian is as versatile as they come and can do multiple things on the court. That includes playing strong defense, plus-level passing ability and point-forward skills. Miami got a steal with our 17th-ranked player on our board.
Miami is coming off an overwhelmingly positive season, finishing with the No. 1 seed in the East and falling one game short of the NBA Finals in a narrow Game 7 loss to the Celtics. With most of their core intact next season, the Heat will continue to navigate salary cap and luxury tax restraints while trying to add value along the margins — something they’ve done more successfully than any team in the NBA over the past few years, thanks to their outstanding scouting, player development and coaching staff. Tyler Herro’s extension eligibility, Victor Oladipo’s free agency, and Kyle Lowry’s age and declining playoff performance are the main issues the front office will evaluate in the offseason. Whether to explore a trade for Duncan Robinson, one of the team’s highest-paid players who fell out of the playoff rotation, is another important decision. Considering the relatively solid depth the team has developed throughout the roster, the Heat were in a position to draft any type of player they want with their late first-round pick, giving them good flexibility. Jovic has impressive dimensions for a player who spent much of the season at the small forward position — measuring 6-11 in shoes with a nine-and-a-half-foot standing reach that might allow him to see some minutes at center as his frame fills out long-term. He’s a skilled, versatile offensive player who shows strong passing ability and flashes of dynamic shot-making and shot-creation prowess, as well as unbridled confidence. Jovic grappled with poor scoring efficiency this season, has major question marks to answer defensively, and allegedly struggled in private workouts ahead of the draft — something that caused his stock to drop somewhat on draft night.
Jovic is kind of a weird fit in Miami, which makes me suspect whether this is for a trade, but he’s got a terrific combination of size and ball skills to work with. The catch is that he’s not all that athletic, but he’s a pretty interesting project, and he’s also quite young for this draft, having recently turned 19. It’s going to take some time, but the Heat tend to maximize their players’ physical potential, and they’ve been so successful with development that I generally trust that this works out for them. It’s a good value play, if not a thrilling decision at face value.
The Serbian is another European sharpshooter who spends a lot of time at the 3-point line and shot 35.6% from long range in the ABA pro league in 2021-22. He can also be a playmaker. He grew eight inches in the past five years. He had been on the Heat’s radar and could be considered a steal this late in the draft. At the start of the season, he received votes from NBA executives as the best international player not in the NBA. He averaged 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists per game in 29 games
Yes, his name is very similar to the two-time MVP, and the similarities don’t end there: both are skilled Serbian big men, the best asset for both is their feel for the game, neither is an elite athlete, and both can shoot the 3 (Jovic was 36% from beyond the arc in the Adriatic League last season). There is a lot of development work to do to Jovic, and don’t expect a Jokic-level of play, but there is potential as an offensive-focused big man in the league.
The Heat will hope that Jovic turns out to be as good a pick at 27 as his countryman, Nikola Jokic, was at 41 in 2014. He looks like a solid ball-handler and passer, though at 31.5 percent from 3, he needs to get a bit more from his shot, and he could be a liability on defense.
Surprise, our first Euro isn’t til pick 27! And double surprise: It’s to the Heat! Pat Riley might be one of the most Euro-skeptical front office executives in NBA history. I’m surprised that Miami picked against that trend with Jovic, a player some overseas scouts weren’t even that crazy about. Miami may be using this as a stash pick.
What grade would give the Nikola Jovic pick? And why? Comment below!