Miami Heat Secure No. 10 Pick in 2015 NBA Draft

The Miami Heat officially received its expected consolation prize on Tuesday night for missing the 2014-15 playoffs by a single game: the tenth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 25 in New York City.

After finishing the regular season with a 37-45 record, the tenth-worst in the league, the Heat had an 87.0 percent chance to secure the pick.

The challenge for Pat Riley and the front office will now be to utilize the pick to identify a player who can address critical areas of need off the bench for the Heat next season, but perhaps equally importantly develop into a starter for 2016 and beyond.

Heat Lottery Picks

Miami’s 11 previous lottery picks.

The Heat has had a good deal of success with its lottery selections in the past (e.g., Dwyane Wade, fifth pick in 2003), but such success has been far from guaranteed (e.g., Michael Beasley, second pick in 2008).

This marks the twelfth time in team history that the Heat has held a lottery pick, and just the fourth since the turn of the century. The expansion-era Heat held six consecutive such picks from 1988 through 1992 (including two in 1990) and, after trading away what would become a lottery selection in 1993, two more in 1994 and 1995.

With its only two previous tenth overall picks in team history, the Heat drafted Kurt Thomas in 1995 and Caron Butler in 2002.

With the stakes rather high this time around, the Heat are hoping for similar success. The current Heat team is both extremely expensive and deeply flawed, with an obvious need for depth at the wing positions, in the form of players who can space the floor and play solid defense. The Heat may not have too many options to address those needs in the years ahead. It will very likely have only the smaller $3.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception with which to improve this summer and will very likely bypass using it, and a significant portion of the expected salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2016 could be allocated toward securing the services of Hassan Whiteside for the long-term. A high draft pick this year represents a unique opportunity for the Heat: the chance to snag a very good player at a very inexpensive price for at least the next four years. 

First round draft picks are paid in accordance with a salary scale. Rookie scale contracts are always for two seasons, with team options for the third and fourth seasons. The scale amount for the tenth pick in the draft for next season is $2.1 million, though such players can be (and most often are) paid 120 percent of their scale amount, which would increase the financial obligation to $2.5 million. In the second year of the contract, those amounts increase to $2.2 million and $2.6 million, respectively.

Goran Dragic, Wade and Luol Deng all hold player options and can leave this summer, but if each returns, as expected, the team’s starting lineup for next season appears to be set: Dragic, Wade, Deng, Chris Bosh and Whiteside. However, there should be plenty of room in the rotation for a young player who fills a need.

In an ideal world, the Heat would draft a player similar to Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, who was the 11th pick of the 2011 draft. A player such as Thompson would complement the Heat’s current backcourt, which is heavy on attackers but desperately seeking additional shooting touch from outside. The Heat ranked 24th in three-point field goal percentage this past season, at 33.4 percent.

Wade is not an ideal complement in the backcourt for Dragic, who thrives in an up tempo style predicated on floor spacing. That need for depth at the position is only amplified by the minute limitations that Wade is likely to endure in the years ahead.

In that respect, 6-foot-6 Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker would be an ideal fit. While there may be players in the draft who might have bigger overall impacts, no one player has a skill more tailor-made for his team than would be Booker’s elite three-point shooting for the Heat. Booker is, quite simply, the best three-point shooter in the draft. His tremendous mechanics and his quick, smooth and high release suggest it will transition well to the pro game. But he’s also a deceptive athlete and a solid defender. He helped his draft stock during agility testing in the combine, coming away with the fastest lane agility score of any player in attendance. Part of Booker’s intrigue is in his ability to be a two-way player, and being able to move his feet is a key part of that. Another part of his intrigue is his age. Booker is the youngest player to register for the draft (he won’t turn 19 years old until Oct. 30), a fact that belies his maturity.

A wise selection for the Heat is critical, in part because it won’t have many others with which to maneuver in the years ahead. The Heat has already traded away three of its next six first round picks subsequent to its 2015 selection.

By virtue of securing a top 10 pick, the Heat’s final first round pick obligation to the Cleveland Cavaliers (who then traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers), a product of the deal that delivered LeBron James to the Heat in a sign-and-trade from Cleveland in July 2010, has now shifted from 2015 to 2016. It will be top-10 protected next year, and unprotected in 2017.

The Heat also owes two future first round picks to the Suns, a product of the deal that delivered Goran Dragic to the Heat last February. The first obligation has now shifted from 2017 to 2018. It will be top-10 protected in 2018, and unprotected in 2019. The second obligation is an unprotected pick which is locked in for 2021.

As a byproduct of its pick trades, the Heat now faces severe restrictions on trading any more first round picks for the foreseeable future:

  • From now until before the 2016 draft: The Heat would not be allowed to trade any first round picks, no matter how far into the future.
  • From after the 2016 draft until before the 2018 draft: The earliest first round pick the Heat would be eligible to trade is its 2023 pick.
  • From after the 2018 draft until before the 2019 draft: The earliest first round pick the Heat would be eligible to trade is its 2019 pick, but only if the first pick obligation to the Suns is satisfied in 2018.
  • From after the 2019 draft until before the 2021 draft: The earliest first round pick the Heat would be eligible to trade is its 2023 pick.
  • From after the 2021 draft onward: The Heat would be eligible to trade any of its future first round picks without restriction.

However, a potential work-around for trades negotiated prior to the upcoming 2015 draft would be to select a player at the behest of a potential trade partner and complete the trade thereafter.

Do not discount the possibility of such trade scenarios. In fact, the Heat have made a draft day or eve trade in each of the last eight years: acquiring Daequan Cook (2007), acquiring Mario Chalmers (2008), acquiring Patrick Beverley (2009), trading the No. 16 pick along with Daequan Cook (2010), acquiring Norris Cole (2011), trading Arnett Moultrie (2012), acquiring James Ennis (2013), and acquiring Shabazz Napier (2014).

The Heat currently holds the tenth pick of the second round of the 2015 draft, No. 40 overall, as well. It, along with second round picks in 2018, 2020 and 2021, would be eligible for trade if the situation were to call for it.

For a preliminary look at the Heat’s offseason, please read this post.

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