Not so much if you’re Pat Riley.
And for good reason. Riley has been shockingly unsuccessful with his first round draft selections since having Dwyane Wade fall into his lap with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.
In 2004, with the Heat in desperate need of a point guard, Riley selected Dorell Wright with pick No. 19. Jameer Nelson was the next player selected.
In 2005, with the Heat seeking depth at power forward, Riley selected Wayne Simeon with pick No. 29. David Lee was the next player selected.
In 2006, the Heat had no pick.
In 2007, Riley completed a draft-day swap for Daequan Cook at pick No. 21. Cook never shot better than 38% in any season during his Heat tenure, and was unceremoniously exiled last month, along with a first round draft pick, in favor of the cap space.
In 2008, with the Heat again starving at point guard and the blockbuster free agent class of 2010 flush with power forwards, Riley selected Michael Beasley with the No. 2 overall pick. Beasley is being shipped away for two second round draft picks. Russell Westbrook, selected two picks later, has become a perennial All-Star at point guard.
In 2009, the Heat had no pick. It was sent to Minnesota as part of the regrettable Ricky Davis, Mark Blount trade. The Wolves used the pick to draft Ty Lawson.
Not good. And Pat knows it:
I’ve said in the past, and I believe this, that the way I always want to build a team is through free agency and trades. Probably some of the best players we’ve gotten here were free agents and trades.
Also, through the draft. But the only way you build through the draft is to lose and get three, four, five years of Top 10 lottery picks. Since (losing to get those picks) has never been a philosophy of mine – we’ve only had three lottery picks in 15 years – I always use (draft picks) as an adjunct to help free agency and trades. As chips I would use maybe to acquire players through trade.
Perhaps his philosophy is one formulated by a track record of consistent failure. But he certainly has remained staunchly committed to his word.
Riley has traded away four first round and two second round draft picks in the past few hours, for two players already committed to the Miami Heat.