2014-15 Record: 37-45 (10th, East)
Draft Picks: 10 (First Round), 40 (Second Round)
Most Recent Draft Picks:
2014 – P.J. Hairston (26 – traded to Charlotte Hornets for Shabazz Napier)
– Semaj Christon (55 – traded to Charlotte Hornets for Napier)
2012 – Arnett Moultrie (27 – traded to Philadelphia 76er’s day after draft)
2011 – Bojan Bogdanovic (31 – traded to Minnesota Timberwolves, then New Jersey Nets on draft night)
After four seasons of some of the best basketball the NBA has ever seen, the Miami Heat regressed to the mean in 2015. Of course any team would take a hit after LeBron James leaves, and with Dwyane Wade missing 20 games due to knee and hamstring injuries, and Chris Bosh’s season ending just after winning the Shooting Stars competition at All-Star Weekend; after it was discovered that he had blood clots in his lungs, this wasn’t the best way to follow up the Big Three era.
Despite the lows, Hassan Whiteside transformed from troubled waste of talent into premier NBA center, and the team was able to acquire dynamic combo-guard Goran Dragic – albeit for two future first round picks – who has opted to become a free agent this summer, but can now be offered the largest contract offer from Miami.
Unfortunately for Heat fans, Dragic may not even be the teams biggest question mark in terms of whether or not he’ll re-sign, as there have been rumblings that Wade may be on his way out of South Beach over the last few weeks.
It’s kind of hard to evaluate what Miami needs to do in the draft with so much roster uncertainty for next season, but given the holes in their roster there are several players available who will be valuable for the Heat both next season, and moving forward to the post-Wade era; whenever that may be.
I know that the wave of the NBA in 2015 is small-ball big men, but having an intimidating big who can dominate the glass and protect the rim is still a great look, and the Heat found that last season in Whiteside. Similar to guys like DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler, and Andre Drummond, Whiteside doesn’t need to have any plays drawn for him to be effective on the offensive end, as we saw him shoot nearly 63 percent from the field, averaging 11.8 points per game (13.7 as a starter), leading the team in win shares per 48 minutes. Of course this was the first season that we saw Whiteside break out, and he still showed signs of character issues, but he definitely is a reason to be excited for the future of Miami basketball.
Bosh will be returning next to him in the frontcourt, as he appears to be making a full recovery from the blood clots discovered in his lungs, and is still one of the best power forwards in the league. Without LeBron, Bosh returned to his Toronto Raptors form, carrying more of the offensive load as Miami’s second leading scorer (21.1 points per game). It was an interesting year for the diverse big man, who probably had his best season on the perimeter, attempting a career high 3.8 threes per game, and converting on nearly 38 percent of them.
If they both return, Dragic and Wade — when healthy — give Miami one of the best scoring backcourts in the league, not to mention they’re both above average at creating shots for not just themselves, but their teammates.
Again, it’s difficult to pinpoint needs on a team that could be losing two of its most talented players, but assuming both Wade and Dragic return, Miami’s biggest needs would appear to be perimeter defense and three-point shooting/offensive efficiency.
Of course finishing 21st in the league in both offensive rating and defensive rating is a reflection of Bosh missing nearly half the season, and focusing an offense around Wade at this stage of his career won’t yield as many threes as, say, a LeBron-centered offense. With that said, Miami finished last season 24th in three-point field goal percentage, and despite finishing with the second slowest pace in the league, Miami was in the bottom third of the league in turnovers.
I hate to keep saying it, but the offense that they run will be determined by whether or not they’re able to keep their backcourt in tact, but regardless, the Heat will need to do a better job with spacing, which I imagine they’ll be able to do with Dragic and Bosh finally being able to play together.
Players they should be targeting at 10:
Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Johnson is likely to be the best perimeter defender in the 2015 NBA Draft, and would be a great piece for the Heat for both the long term and immediate impact. I’m not certain he, or the two guys I have listed below him, will still be on the board at ten, but he’s NBA ready both physically and mentally.
After receiving much criticism for not being a two-way player before playing a single game for Arizona, Johnson had an impressive season offensively for the Wildcats, converting on 37 percent of his three-point attempts, and posting an impressive 55 percent true shooting percentage. With the length and strength to guard just about every position (specifically in a small ball lineup), Johnson’s a legit “3 and D” guy who’s improving his skills.
Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
Then there’s Booker. Heralded as the best pure shooter in the class of 2015, the former Kentucky shooting guard could eventually be Wade’s replacement, and would be able to give the Heat the scoring threat off the bench that they missed last year without Ray Allen. Shooting an impressive 47 percent in his lone season in Lexington (41 percent from three), Booker’s best without the ball — which would more than likely always be the case if he’s playing in a lineup with Wade or Dragic. He combines great shot selection with beautiful shooting mechanics to be one of the better shooting guard prospects in the draft since Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal.
Booker’s defense is still suspect to say the least, and as the youngest player in the draft (who didn’t start a single college game) it may take him a little time to find his groove in the NBA. However, for a team that needs to start looking for their shooting guard of the future, and needs help with spacing and three point efficiency, Booker should get a look if he’s on the board at ten.
Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Spain/Croatia
The longest shot to be available when Miami picks, Hezonja might be the most skilled wing player in this stacked draft class, and that’s really not hyperbole. If by some miracle guys like Frank Kaminsky, Johnson, and Myles Turner get taken unexpectedly higher than projected, there’s a chance Hezonja is still around in the back end of the lottery.
Similar to Booker, Hezonja hasn’t exactly played a ton of minutes for his Bareclona club, so he may not be thrust into a starting role immediately in the NBA. With that said, this is a kid who’s deadly from downtown, has a killer first step, gets to the basket at will, and has tremendous feel for the game. I’m not going to include confidence as one of his best attributes, because what lottery-level prospect doesn’t play with confidence to this point of their careers, but Hezonja clearly thinks he’s the best player on the court at all times, and plays like it.