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2023 NBA Draft: 7 prospects to keep an eye on for the Miami Heat at No. 18
We're seven days away from the 2023 NBA Draft, so let's dive into seven prospects I'm keeping tabs on at No. 18!
While you might be here to discuss the swirling rumors between Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard, we’re not going to do it (for now). We’re officially seven days away from the 2023 NBA Draft! Can you believe it’s already here?
The Miami Heat owns the No. 18 pick. They’re an organization that hasn’t been afraid to trade their first-round picks in the past.
At the time of this publishing, they haven’t for 2023 (yet?). So with that in mind, let’s dive into seven 2023 prospects that I’m keeping my eyes on for pick No. 18 since we’re seven days away! Let’s dive into it!
(No, that does not mean I think the Heat will draft any of these players! I know just as much as all of you!)
Ben Sheppard, G, Belmont
6-foot-6, 185 pounds
2022-23 stats (32 games): 18.8 PPG | 5.2 RPG | 2.9 APG | 1.4 SPG | 47.5 FG% | 41.5 3P% (6.0 3PA) | 58.2 TS% | 21.8 PER
Skinny: Sheppard is one of the biggest risers compared to the start of the pre-draft process, especially with how he played at the NBA Draft Combine. At Belmont, he improved his 3-point shooting each season and showcased he could be a 40-plus percent catch-and-shooter in his final season.
Sheppard has a very quick release, can flow off into shots off screens as a movement shooter, relocate to make himself more available anywhere on the floor and attack long/heavy closeouts as a slasher. He’s not a bad finisher around the rim (77-124 at rim in 22-23), nor is he a bad passer, connector or defender. He’ll need to improve his frame, but Sheppard is a prospect that will fit well in the Heat system offensively.
Jalen Hood-Schifino, G, Indiana
6-foot-6, 213 pounds
2022-23 stats (32 games): 13.5 PPG | 4.1 RPG | 3.7 APG | 0.8 SPG | 41.7 FG% | 33.3 3P% (3.5 3PA) | 49.2 TS% | 13.0 PER
Skinny: Hood-Schifino flashed inconsistencies shooter and decision-maker. But, as a freshman, he showed that he could handle a primary initiator. At the NBA level, he’ll likely be a secondary creator, but the 6-foot-5 guard excelled in the pick-and-roll and showed he could make every pass with both hands.
He wasn’t a good spot-up shooter or finisher, but Hood-Schifino was a solid in-between pull-up shooter and finished the season 35-of-89 (39.3 percent) on 3s above-the-break. He’s also not the best athlete, but is strong enough to where he can get to his spots, especially against smaller guards. I like what I saw from Hood-Schifino defensively because he can overwhelm guards with his size and strength, while also showcasing his ability to poke the ball away from opposing ballhandlers.
I believe Hood-Schifino would benefit from the Heat’s developmental season in the short- and long-term, and he has playable size as a lead guard to warrant a pick at No. 18.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper, F, Marquette
6-foot-7, 212 pounds
2022-23 stats (36 games): 12.5 PPG | 4.7 RPG | 1.4 SPG | 51.2 FG% | 33.9 3P% (3.2 3PA) | 61.7 TS% | 17.9 PER
Skinny: The Heat have a track record with Marquette players — have you ever heard of Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler? No? Well, they’re somewhat decent at this basketball thing, some could argue.
Jokes aside, Prosper is another late riser and benefitted significantly from how he played at the combine. He features a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and is a very skilled and versatile defender. He can legitimately switch 1-5; he holds his own at the point-of-attack against guards, chases shooters off screens and remains connected while holding his own down low against bigger 4s/smaller 5s. His motor on the defensive end is absurd and runs the floor like a guard, covering large spaces very quickly.
Where he really showed out at the combine was his handle and his ability to get to the rim on-ball. Prosper has good form and improved as a shooter in each of his three collegiate seasons. He shot 37.5 percent from the 3 in the corners, including 41.9 percent since the turn of the calendar year.
In a league where length and functional athleticism matter, Prosper fits the bill perfectly. He’s a late first-round/early second-round prospect on most boards, but he would excel under the Heat’s developmental umbrella. I’m very high on him, especially since players with his physical tools and skills are so difficult to come by.
Colby Jones, G, Xavier
6-foot-5, 199 pounds
2022-23 stats (36 games): 15 PPG | 5.7 RPG | 4.4 APG | 1.3 SPG | 50.9 FG% | 37.8 3P% (3.3 3PA) | 58.0 TS% | 19.8 PER
Skinny: Jones has a do-it-all repertoire that intrigues me. He doesn’t play at a rapid pace; his movements and demeanor, especially when the ball’s in his hands, are very methodical and in control. Jones is a very skilled passer, both out of the pick-and-roll and as a connector, for a wing. He has high acumen and is a very good decision-maker both in the half-court and in transition offensively.
Jones is a much-improved shooter, though he might be asked to clean up his form a bit at the next level (he brings it up from the left side of his body, occasionally). He has a rock-solid in-between game with good touch near the rim. Defensively, Jones has good balance and foot speed; plus, he’s a very good screen navigator on- and off-the-ball. I’m intrigued by his skillset because it’s very well-rounded and one that could be bolstered by the Heat coaching staff.
Kris Murray, F, Iowa
6-foot-8, 213 pounds
2022-23 stats (29 games): 20.2 PPG | 7.9 RPG | 2.0 APG | 1.0 SPG | 47.6 FG% | 33.5 3P% (6.8 3PA) | 57.2 TS% | 25.9 PER
Skinny: Kris Murray isn’t as skilled as his twin brother, Keegan, who was drafted No. 4 overall in last year’s draft. But he’s an NBA-ready wing who’s a good defender, rebounder and multi-faceted scorer. Kris isn’t very explosive or bouncy, but he still finds ways to generate rim pressure and convert around the rim, where he shot 68 percent this season.
All in all, Murray’s an efficient player and is capable of becoming a better shooter than he was this past year, when he shot below 35 percent from deep after canning 38.7 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2021-22, albeit with a smaller sample size. He held his own against guards and wings at the college level; he’s a good shot blocker in space, where he can utilize his near 7-foot wingspan.
Jett Howard, G, Michigan
6-foot-8, 215 pounds
2022-23 stats (29 games): 14.2 PPG | 2.8 RPG | 2.0 APG | 1.4 SPG | 41.4 FG% | 36.8 3P% (7.3 3PA) | 56.2 TS% | 16.7 PER
Skinny: The Heat has a connection here; former Heat player and assistant coach Juwan Howard, who’s currently Michigan’s head coach, is Jett’s father.
Howard’s best trait is what the Heat desperately need: Shooting. Howard barely shot over 40 percent from the field, but canned 36.8 percent of his 7.3 triple tries per game in his lone season at Michigan. He’s another prospect with a smooth, quick release from deep, and shredded opponents when he was left alone from distance.
Howard was also a sneaky good pull-up shooter and playmaker when he was given on-ball reps. He’ll really need to improve is defensively, where he had trouble navigating screens and keeping ballhandlers in front. To eliminate getting picked on, he’s going to have to add strength since he doesn’t have much length. But I overall like Howard’s shooting ability, which might be enough for Miami to take a flier on him.
Dereck Lively II, C, Duke
7-foot-1, 230 pounds
2022-23 stats (34 games): 5.2 PPG | 5.4 RPG | 2.4 BPG | 65.8 FG% | 66.2 TS% | 22.6 PER
Skinny: I don’t have a great feel for where Lively will get picked, but he is definitely a prospect I’m still keeping my eye on.
Lively’s stock skyrocketed during the pre-draft process, in large part because of his shooting. If the Heat doesn’t want to keep playing roulette with its backup big spot, it can certainly swing with Lively, who has a fascinating skillset that’s needed on this roster.
Despite having a roller coaster one-and-done stint with the Blue Devils, Lively, who has a 7-foot-7 wingspan, was a very good shot blocker, rejecting 4.7 blocks per 40 minutes. He’s a good rebounder, vertical spacer and will be a good rim-runner at the next level, though Lively will not be a player you want to play a non-shooter next to in the frontcourt (at least in the short-term). He’s the prototypical backup big for Adebayo and I think he’s absolutely worth the selection at No. 18 because of his size, athleticism and two-way upside, should he fall that far.
Other prospects I’m keeping tabs on:
Rayan Rupert, F, NZ Breakers
Another very strong defensive prospect, 6-7 with a 7-3 wingspan.
Struggled as a shooter; broke his wrist midseason.
Unselfish; flashed on-ball creation with limited reps.
He’s young (19-years-old), so it’ll take time for him to develop.
Bilal Coulibaly, F, Metropolitans 92
Victor Wembanyama’s teammate; 6-6 with a 7-2 wingspan.
Good athlete and an impressive slasher; will need to improve spot-up shooting.
Very fun in transition.
High motor defensively and will be able to defend multiple positions.
Terquavion Smith, G, NC State
A riser during the 2022 draft process, but elected to return to the Wolfpack.
He’s gonna get them *up* over anyone and everyone; strong bucket getter, but can sometimes be inconsistent/inefficient.
Not sure how he’ll hold up defensively because of his lack of size, so that’s a big question.
Nick Smith Jr., G, Arkansas
5-star recruit, but was limited with a knee injury throughout 2022-23, which stings his stock.
Still showed burst/explosiveness, but lacked true rim pressure.
Very strong touch within 5-to-10 feet.
Coached by Eric Musselman, so you know he’s built for #HEATCulture™ (just ask Caleb Martin how crazy/awesome Muss is).
Jordan Hawkins, G, UConn
Best movement shooter in this class (in my opinion).
Drew plenty of shooting gravity at UConn; hey, I know a player who also does that with the Heat!
More than just a 3-point shooter; he’s got serious two-level scoring potential in the mid-range. Will need to improve at the rim, however.
Sneaky good rebounder and defender; also played for a hard-nosed coach in Dan Hurley.
Leonard Miller, F, G-League Unite
Polarizing prospect; 6-9 with a 7-2 wingspan; already a year of pro-ball under his belt, where he averaged 18-11 on 55.6/32.7/79.2 shooting splits.
Fairly athletic rim-runner, especially in transition.
Good handle for his size and had intriguing playmaking ability.
Still a very raw prospect, but his physical traits make him enticing.
Maxwell Lewis, G, Pepperdine
Enticing length; 6-6 with a 7-0 wingspan.
Inconsistent sophomore season, but has flashed shooting/creation upside.
A springy athlete in the open court.
Another raw prospect, especially defensively, who’s a project. But the upside’s definitely there.
G.G. Jackson, F, South Carolina
Will be 18-years-old by the start of the 23-24 season.
Very strong self-creation upside; a tough shot maker and tough shot maker.
Can score in a multitude of ways, but doesn’t excel at just one thing.
Will need to be better on- and off-the-ball defensively at the next level.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, F/C, Indiana
One of the most productive players in college basketball last season.
Undersized center, but a very good vertical athlete.
Very fun playmaker — especially in the short roll — and excelled scoring in the post, which is atypical to the standard NBA game.
Have no idea how any of this will translate to the next level, but I put him on here because he’s genuinely someone I want to keep tabs on throughout his NBA career.
Kobe Bufkin, G, Michigan
6-4, but a very good slasher/finisher over bigger defenders.
Quick decision-maker; flashed more legitimately awesome playmaking chops as his career aged.
Competitive, nosy defender.
Marcus Sasser, G, Houston
Injuries hampered his collegiate career, but Sasser is one tough dude; he’s got that dawg in him.
6-1, but has a 6-7 wingspan.
Smooth release, but is a very tough shot taker & maker.
Well-coached; played for Kelvin Sampson, one of the best coaches in the entire sport.
Brice Sensabaugh, G, Ohio State
Shotmaking, shotmaking and even more shotmaking!
Three-level scoring potential and is a good spot-up long-range scorer.
Not the best athlete and not the best defender, which limits his upside despite being built like a linebacker.
Amari Bailey, G, UCLA
Rose up in the pre-draft process; Bailey flourished in the NBA Draft Combine scrimmages.
When he was given more on-ball responsibility later in the season at UCLA (due to injuries to others), he flourished.
Likes to go left (his dominant hand) a ton, but was a good decision-maker.
Competitive defensively as a freshman; played for Mick Cronin, another highly-regarded defensive-minded coach, so that tracks.