Posts Tagged ‘NBA Draft’

Miami Heat Select Justise Winslow With No. 10 Pick in the 2015 Draft

June 26th, 2015 No comments
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This post was updated on June 29, 2015 when it was confirmed that the Boston Celtics offered the Miami Heat the same package of draft picks as they did the Charlotte Hornets, and updated again on July 28, 2015 when details emerged as to the actual draft picks that were being offered.

The foundation of the Miami Heat’s future championship aspirations rests largely on the shoulders of point guard Goran Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside.

Dragic loves to attack the basket. He’s an aggressive guard who keeps defenders backpedalling as he slashes to the rim. He has excellent body control and does a tremendous job of slipping past defenders and finishing through contact. He is the only guard in the NBA to have shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of the last two seasons. If the defense collapses to stop him, he is just as likely to hit his corner three-point shooters as he is his roll-man on the pick-and-roll or a big man down low.

Whiteside has become the poster child of a fan base seeking out hope for the future. He has rewarded us all with boundless energy, youthful exuberance, and quick ascent. In his limited time last season, Whiteside rampaged through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. His potential in the pick-and-roll and on the glass is undeniable. But his skills extend far beyond that. His low-post game is still developing, and has the potential to make him one of the elite low-post scorers in the whole of the NBA.

Dragic and Whiteside figure to become focal points of the Heat offense for years to come. They figure to be highly successful in plying their trade, but only if they have the floor space with which to do so. Whiteside needs it to maneuver freely down low. Dragic needs it to create clear driving lanes for himself and open looks for others.  Read more…

Addressing The Heat’s Need for Floor Spacing

May 20th, 2015 No comments
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Long since departed were the glory days of the Big Three era, the thrill of competing deep into June, the sparkle from all the championship rings, as the 2014-15 Miami Heat staggered to the finish of a brutal season replete with injuries, exhaustion and ineffectiveness.

Despite competing in the dismal day-off-is-a-game-won Eastern Conference, the journey from LeBron’s departure to lottery arrival took just one excruciating season. It was a season paved with crushing injuries. Yet even with the season-ending meniscus tear to Josh McRoberts in November, the season-ending pulmonary embolism of Chris Bosh in February, the nicks and bruises that limited what was left of the battered rotation in the months that followed, and the 30 starting lineups head coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to utilize as a result, the Heat still managed to grossly underachieve along the way to its first pre-playoff exit since 2008.

There were plenty of issues that caused this spectacular underachievement, but perhaps the most enduring was the Heat’s inability to consistently score the basketball. It’s an issue which needs to be addressed this summer.

The Heat have already secured a promising start to its rebuilding process. They’ve addressed, and rather emphatically, the two positions – point guard and center – which have troubled them most in recent years. The foundation of the Heat’s future championship aspirations rests largely on the shoulders of point guard Goran Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside.  Read more…

Miami Heat Secure No. 10 Pick in 2015 NBA Draft

May 19th, 2015 No comments
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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.  Read more…

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A Preliminary Look at the Miami Heat Offseason

April 18th, 2015 4 comments
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“I know one thing about the Miami Heat organization. We don’t just sit around and hope. We get to work.”

That was Dwyane Wade speaking to the media, describing what his team’s front office will do this summer to improve upon a team which, despite the loss of its best player and the significant injuries it thereafter endured, still managed to grossly underachieve along the way to its first pre-playoff exit since 2008.

But it won’t be easy. Pat Riley will face severe salary cap limitations and luxury tax restrictions as he sets out to improve the Heat’s roster.

All 15 players on the Heat roster are under contract through next season, but the status of seven of them has yet to be determined. Wade, Luol Deng and Goran Dragic have player options which need to be exercised by June 29, Michael Beasley has a team option on his minimum salary contract which needs to be exercised by June 29, and James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Henry Walker have non-guaranteed minimum salary contracts that can be terminated cost-free at any point prior to August 1. Hassan Whiteside also has a non-guaranteed contract at the minimum salary, but his status as a continuing member of the Heat organization is certain.

Assuming Wade exercises the option on a contract that will pay him $16.1 million next season (as he has said he will do), the Heat will start the offseason well above the projected $67.1 million salary cap unless two things both happen: Luol Deng declines his $10.2 million option and Goran Dragic leaves.

Dragic will opt out of the final year of his four-year contract that would have paid him $7.5 million. He has indicated that he enjoys Miami, and will remain with the Heat if his financial goals are met. The Heat paid a steep price to get him, headlined by two future first round draft picks, which tells you everything you need to know about how willing they will be to pay him his money.  Read more…

With Injuries Mounting, Should the Miami Heat Tank?

April 4th, 2015 7 comments
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Update (4/15/15): The Heat finished the season with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs by one game. The fate of their 2015 first round draft pick – which is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers, subject to top-10 protections – will be determined by the draft lottery, which will be held on May 19th. With the tenth seeding for the lottery, the Heat will have a 1.1 percent chance to draw the first overall pick, a 1.3 percent chance at the second overall pick, a  1.6 percent chance at the third pick, an 87.0 percent chance at the tenth pick, and a 9.1 percent chance to receive a pick which would need to be sent to the Sixers. 

The Miami Heat’s season of struggle is continuing on with full force.

Goran Dragic says his “body doesn’t feel right.” Dwyane Wade just re-injured his left knee, a few days after getting it drained of excess fluid. Luol Deng is suffering through a left knee contusion. Chris Bosh is out for the year as he recovers from a pulmonary embolism. His backup, Josh McRoberts, is out for the year as he rehabs from a torn right lateral meniscus. Hassan Whiteside is struggling through the effects of a huge gash on his right hand that required 10 stitches to close.

That’s all five Heat starters ailing during the most critical month of the regular season.

The Eastern Conference’s four-time defending champion and current eight seed is in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. And with its entire starting rotation battered, it’s unclear what damage they could cause in the playoffs if even they were to make it.

Amidst the struggles, an increasing group of frustrated Heat fans has begun to endorse an intriguing concept: Why not tank the rest of the 2014-15 season to get a better draft pick?

The Heat has already traded away its 2015 first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers (who then traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers) as part of the LeBron James sign-and-trade in July 2010. But that pick is top-10 protected through 2016, and unprotected in 2017.

The “protections” mean that if Miami ends up with a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft, the Heat would get to keep the pick, and its obligation to the Cavs would shift to the following year. If, instead, the Heat doesn’t end up with a top 10 pick, the pick would be conveyed to the Cavs and the obligation would be fulfilled. If the pick winds up shifting to 2016, the same rules would apply next year. If the pick has not been conveyed by 2016, it would get conveyed in 2017 no matter where it lands.

These “protections” serve as a protection measure for the Heat, so that they don’t give away a pick that is more valuable than it was intended to be. But they also mean that the Heat could intentionally tank the final seven games of the regular season in order to secure a top 10 pick, allowing them to keep the pick in what is widely considered to be a strong and deep draft.

Tanking could get the Heat a valuable pick in a strong and deep 2015 NBA draft(1).

Should they do it?  Read more…

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The Anatomy of a Spectacular Miami Heat Failure

June 15th, 2014 4 comments
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The Miami Heat’s bid for basketball immortality – four straight NBA Finals appearances and three straight NBA titles, a feat which has only been accomplished once in league history – has fallen spectacularly short. In the wake of this colossal failure, we’re all left wondering how it all went so wrong so quickly – how our team ended up looking so old, so slow, so flawed, so unable to adapt, so unable to defend.

Is it an organizational philosophy that failed us?

“I don’t think you win championships with young, athletic players that don’t have experience. I think we’ve learned over the years that building with young players is very frustrating.”

That was Pat Riley in June 2011, describing his aversion to developing youthful talent.

It is a philosophy that he has expressed many different times in many different ways over the years. It is a philosophy that has permeated his every decision in preparation for and during the Big Three era. It is a philosophy upon which the Stepien-like decisions to surrender a whopping six future first round draft picks in a period of less than five months from February to July 2010 were predicated. It is a philosophy upon which the decision to constantly fill the roster with post-dated bench-warming veterans was predicated.

It was a philosophy which, initially, didn’t bother us. We were all so captivated by the moment. Riley had a plan. He executed upon it with deadly precision. He got the big things so right that it didn’t matter how he handled the little things. In Riley we trusted.

The winning that followed only validated that ideology.

But, quietly, things weren’t as wonderful as they appeared. In the wake of the signings of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the summer of the 2010, the front office lost sight of its need to build for the future. Everything was always only about the moment.

Some of us couldn’t help but wonder. If your mission is to win as many titles as possible while the Big Three are still in their primes, then wouldn’t you like to have some upside around? Some players who will be getting better with time? Some players who can keep the energy level high when the stars need to rest?

Riley has always had a clear affinity for the seasoned veteran versus the inexperienced rookie. He’d rather have the sure thing than the potential next big thing. But as much as these veterans are low risks to make stupid, rookie-type decisions, none will break free off the dribble in crunch time or make that key defensive stop and then sprint up the floor for a breakaway jam – they’re zero risks to become more athletic, to develop new parts of their games, or to be usable as trade bait should the need arise.  Read more…

The Cost of All Those Traded Draft Picks Becoming Clearer for Miami Heat

April 20th, 2014 4 comments
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In the summer of 2010, the Miami Heat changed the course of team and league history. As a result of two trade calls held with the NBA league office in less than an hour on July 10, the Heat completed sign-and-trade transactions with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, acquiring LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the process.

James and Bosh were to be paired with Heat incumbent free agent Dwyane Wade as the launching point for what would ultimately become the Big Three era. In the three subsequent seasons, the Heat have gone on to reach the NBA Finals all three times, winning the NBA championship twice. Their pursuit of a third consecutive title begins tonight.

Amidst the jubilation of the day, some questioned the manner in which Heat president Pat Riley chose to acquire his two new players. The Heat had the necessary cap room at the time to sign them outright. Why, then, pursue the trade?

Both players were eligible for maximum salaries of $16.6 million in the first year of any new contract signed, whether it was with their prior teams, with the Heat, or with anyone else. But while the starting salary was to be the same no matter where they signed, the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement gives the home team a financial advantage when it comes to re-signing its own players. Both players’ home teams were eligible to offer their respective player one more year (six instead of five) and bigger annual raises (10.5% instead of 8%). That translated to a maximum potential offer of $125.5 million over six years, versus the $96.1 million over five years that the Heat could offer.

James and Bosh utilized the structure not to make the increased money, but rather to mitigate the impact of taking less. They leveraged the sign-and-trade structure to take a reduced starting salary of $14.5 million – $2.1 million less than the maximum – in order to accommodate the contracts of Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. (Wade, too, did the same).

Each structured the longer six year deal with the higher 10.5% maximum raises, but with the lower starting salary. The contracts paid out $109.8 million over the six years, roughly $15.5 million less than they otherwise could have made had they accepted full max deals.

The sign-and-trade structure, however, came at a cost for Miami.  Read more…

Miami Heat Are Talking Trade, But With Limited Assets to Offer

December 7th, 2013 4 comments
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Dwyane Wade has already missed five of the Miami Heat’s first twenty games this season.

The Heat have a lot of legitimate concerns over the health of Wade – he hasn’t been healthy, really, in any of the last three postseasons; he is still recovering from offseason OssaTron treatments to deal with tendinitis in both of his knees, long after the typical recovery timeframe for such procedures; he is in the early stages of a season-long maintenance program designed to treat and preserve his troublesome knees; and they have no good indication of how his thirty-something body will hold up over the rigors of an eight-month NBA season.

They also understand that flipping one of the team’s centerpiece performers in and out of what has become a flotsam of rotations is sending the Heat into a rhythmic chaos.

The Heat over the last two seasons reinvented themselves as a small-ball scoring machine built upon killer shooting, intricate motion offense, and a furious trapping defense. Battier spotted up for 3s and guarded power forwards so LeBron wouldn’t have to, Bosh stretched his range, the read-and-react playbook expanded, and Miami became unguardable.

Now they’re scrambling to maintain any semblance of consistency. They have just a single reserve shooting guard, Ray Allen, on the whole of the roster. Coach Erik Spoelstra has compensated for uncertainty on the perimeter by playing Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers together more, an ultra-small look that could prove untenable as time marches on. LeBron James has played about as many minutes without Wade this season as with him.

The Heat, simply, has no continuity. And so, with no clear alternative, the Heat have initiated trade talks seeking backcourt help.  Read more…

The Cost of Protection

July 5th, 2013 5 comments
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Is there time value to draft picks? Should there be time value when built into trades?

The Miami Heat would argue that there should not. Past history would suggest the Heat would argue that, disregarding the potential talent in any given draft, a first round pick in one season is worth exactly one similarly-numbered first round pick in a future season. Possibly even less.

How do you feel? It is an interesting question in light of recent events.

The Utah Jazz have reportedly agreed to accept $24 million in expiring contracts – those of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush – from the Golden State Warriors. It cost the Warriors first round picks in 2014 and 2017 and two undisclosed second round picks.

Jefferson and Biedrins were dead weight, and Rush, after missing nearly the entire 2012-13 season with a torn ACL, is still rehabbing and surely isn’t being counted on to offer much. It was a salary dump that can’t help but make you wonder.

Think back to June of last year.

The Heat selected Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie with its No. 27 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, but then promptly dealt the SEC’s leading rebounder to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers got the big man many figured they would take with their No. 15 pick.

In exchange, the Heat received a future first round pick from the 76ers and the No. 45 pick in the second round of the draft, which Miami used to select LSU center Justin Hamilton. The first-round pick the Heat acquired was lottery protected for the next three seasons, meaning the Heat would get the pick as soon as Philadelphia made the playoffs. If they missed the playoffs in all three seasons, the pick would turn into two second round picks — one in 2015 and another in 2016.

The Heat negotiated what appeared at the time to be a nice deal. At the time of the trade, the Sixers had just made the playoffs with a lowly No. 8 seed. The teams below the Sixers in the conference were moving backwards, or at the very least sideways. The Heat had the cushion of knowing that one team above the Sixers, the Orlando Magic, was about to be dismantled. A return trip to the playoffs for Philly with a low-level seed was all but assured – a terrible outcome for a Sixers team looking to improve, but a wonderful outcome for the Heat. Miami appeared to have traded its No. 27 pick in exchange for a No. 45 pick and a No. 15 or so pick one year later. A great outcome.

But things didn’t work out as planned. Philly traded its best player, Andre Iguodala, for Andrew Bynum. Bynum never played. As a result, the Sixers slipped just one spot in the standings, from eighth to nine, but it was enough to eliminate them from the playoffs. Miami’s return on its trade went from the best it could possibly be to possibly the worst it can be.  Read more…

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Heat Get 50th Pick James Ennis For Future 2nd Rounder

June 28th, 2013 2 comments
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They didn’t trade into the first round. But they did trade into the second.

For most of the night, Shane Battier was the Miami Heat’s only presence at the NBA Draft.

Then they made a late move by trading a future second-round pick (top-40 protected in 2017; unprotected in 2018) for the rights to Battier’s potential apprentice – 6-foot-7, 206-pound Long Beach State swingman James Ennis, who turns 23 on Monday – just before the draft ended. He was originally selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the 50th pick.

It was not an impulse decision.

The Heat became aware of the Southern California product when he was still playing at Ventura College more than two years ago, and scouted him in person before he ever took the floor for Long Beach State as a junior.

“I heard about (Ennis) when he was (still) at Ventura College,” Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer said.

“His first year at Long Beach State, I went to practice there with coach (Dan) Monson, and watched the first weekend of practice. They had this real good team with Casper Ware, (Larry) Anderson and (TJ) Robinson. I went to watch those guys. But when I got there to watch the practice, I noticed this young, long wing. By the end of the practice, I was really impressed with him. I said, ‘There’s the best pro prospect on the roster.’ ”

The Heat were particularly attracted to Ennis’ versatility.

He fits the mold of a Heat player these days – he can play multiple positions and shows a varied set of skills. In his college career, he proved he could shoot, rebound, pass and defend – and do all those things with explosiveness.

Using Inspector Gadget-like arms and springy legs, Ennis has become a highlight-reel waiting to happen with his explosive dunks. He started dunking before his sophomore year of high school. He increased his leaping ability at college by high jumping for his track and field team. His personal best was 6 feet, 11 inches.

But perhaps most important is his potential as a floor spacing shooter. He’s not quite there yet – he shot 36% from 3-point range as a senior – but, given his shooting stroke, he projects as someone who can develop nicely in that role.  Read more…

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