The Miami Heat have done a nice job taking advantage of their draft picks the past five years as they competed for championships during the “Big Three” era. Heat president Pat Riley remains in charge of the daily goings on within the organization, and as long as that remains the case, don’t expect the Heat to go anywhere anytime soon. So how has Riley utilized the draft to keep Miami in contention all these years?
Miami moved around and made only one selection in the 2011 draft. But the acquisitions made enabled the Heat to take that next step into championship contention. Miami didn’t have its first-rounder because of the Chris Bosh acquisition, but Riley snagged point guard Norris Cole (pick No. 28) thanks to a draft-night deal. Cole proved to be a valuable backup point guard behind Mario Chalmers and played his role well during his time in Miami before being traded in February 2015 to the New Orleans Pelicans. Miami traded away its second-rounders for a bunch of no names who’ve yet to make an impact in the NBA.
The Heat only made one selection in 2012, again trading away their second-rounder as they tried to acquire talent to help win right away. At 27th overall, Miami opted for Arnett Moultrie, a talented stretch 4 who many thought had the talent to make an immediate impact. Moultrie was traded to Philadelphia immediately for a future first-rounder and big man Justin Hamilton, who the 76ers drafted at pick 45. Hamilton had a cup of tea in the league but now plays overseas in Spain.
Again, Miami’s past trades continued to leave them a bare cupboard during the 2013 draft (LeBron James acquisition). The Heat were able to acquire a late second-round pick, sending a future second-rounder to the Atlanta Hawks to take swingman James Ennis at 50th overall. Ennis didn’t do much in Miami and was just traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Chalmers trade.
LeBron tweeted in June before the 2014 draft that his favorite player available was UConn point guard Shabazz Napier. So the Heat, of course, opted to go in that direction late in the first round, trading their 28th pick to Charlotte to move up and select Napier at 24th overall. Napier had a disappointing year as a rookie, making many appearances in the D-League before making his way to the NBA, but he didn’t show enough to Miami to warrant a roster spot — he was traded this past July to the Orlando Magic.
Don’t forget — Miami also traded its 2014 second-round pick to move up those two spots, so it’s safe to say the Napier pick was a bust for Miami (and LeBron left anyway despite the selection). Of course, it should be noted that the Heat found a rotation player post-draft in Fresno State guard Tyler Johnson.
Miami fell far last season behind a rash of injuries all throughout the roster, which caused them to miss the playoffs. It was a blessing in disguise, however, as it allowed them to swoop inside the lottery and nab arguably the steal of the draft in swingman Justise Winslow. Winslow has looked promising so far off the bench for the Heat, and he could be a long-term starter at either wing position for Miami. Pat Riley was higher on Josh Richardson than I was pre-draft, so when the Heat took him at 40th overall, it was a mild surprise. But Richardson has looked like a potential bench piece for Miami after a strong impression during Summer League and preseason.
The Heat haven’t actually been participants in the draft much in the past five years thanks to key trades to add big-time players in LeBron and Bosh. But last season provided Miami with the right mix of injuries and struggles to hit the lottery and take advantage of it. Miami now looks like a playoff team with one of the deepest rosters in the league. With a healthy season, watch out for Miami in the Eastern Conference as Pat Riley once again has them right in the middle of contention.