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3 Potential NBA Draft Targets For The Miami Heat

(Photo Credit: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

With the Heat’s current No. 23 selections in the upcoming NBA Draft, Pat Riley and Miami will have to prepare for any surprising steals that fall to their hands late in the first round.

Early-entry commitments from players such as LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and more won’t fall into Miami’s hands, but could push back players with lottery value to fall in hands of the Heat.

Miami will have to use the pick, as NBA rules state that teams cannot trade successive future first-round picks. After dealing their 2021 first to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic back in 2015, they will have to at least make a pick on draft night.

Although drafting in the 20s might not seem like much talent remaining, Miami has been able to select some notable names in that range. In 2011, the Heat selected Norris Cole at 28th. 2014 Miami traded up from 26th to 24th and selected Shabazz Napier. Daequan Cook was selected 21st by Miami in 2007.

Let’s take a look at NBA Draft prospects who could be available when the Heat are on the clock.

*Note:* I already covered Duke guard Tre Jones in an earlier article, so he will not be mentioned.

Zeke Nnaji | Arizona | Center

Out of Arizona, Nnaji was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, averaging an impressive 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds a night. His 57.0% shooting and 76.0% from the free-throw stripe really stand out, considering that he is a 6-foot-11, 228 pound PF/C with a 7-foot-1 wingspan.

Zeke inked 14 double-doubles, solidifying his case as one of the most impressive freshmen in the country.

When watching Nnaji, I was impressed with his strength to fight for rebounds, patience to roll and slide with his guards, and ability to play above the rim. His touch shooting mid-range jumpers is very exciting, being just 19 years-old.

Weaknesses:

His ability to stretch the floor and shoot 3’s more confidently will come through experience in the NBA. The only problems I see in Nnaji is his rim-protecting, averaging just 0.7 blocks-per-game and his need to improve play-making skills, picking up less than an assist a night at 0.8.

Nonetheless, Arizona would definitely not have finished with a (21-11, 10-8) final record with Zeke Nnaji. As a projected mid first to early second round pick in the 2020 Draft, Miami could take a great player in Zeke at No. 23.

Patrick Williams | Florida State | Wing

Williams could be considered as the greatest draft risk out of the 5 prospects shown. Averaging 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1 assist, steal, and block, Patrick Williams was a standout at FSU due to his athleticism and defense around the paint.

The freshmen SF stands at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds. He shot 95-207 (45.9%) overall and 16-50 (32.0%) from three this season. I loved watching Williams attack the basket for a dunk, defend in transition, and block shots no matter who it is.

Williams reminds me of Minnesota Timberwolves and former Heat forward James Johnson. Johnson, who is also 6-foot-8, has similar tendencies to the Seminole, aggression towards the basket, an improving jumper, and great defense on bigger defenders.

Weaknesses:

Although Williams’ defense is advanced, he isn’t someone who can hold the ball for a long time. He needs work as a shooter. ”Williams has shown some ability running pick-and-rolls and creating mid-rangers for himself off the dribble.” Evan Daniels from 247Sports spoke about Patrick’s offensive woes.

“But he’s not consistent enough, and he’s far too poor of a distributor to have the ball much. His best offense comes when opportunistically taking advantage of his athleticism with cuts and alley-oop finishes.”

The risk Miami could take in selecting a James Johnson type player at 23rd… is he worth that high of a pick? Could Williams progress to reach that certain potential or could he be a Chris Silva type player, one who is an undersized F/C who can mainly score off alley-oops?

Tyrese Maxey | Kentucky | Guard

Since I’ve done a center and forward, it’s only right to cover a guard. Out of Kentucky, Maxey stood out as an elite scorers and one of the best players on a stacked Wildcats squad, averaging 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game this season.

The 6-foot-3 guard was named Second Team All-SEC and All-SEC freshman team. Although his three-point shot wasn’t the best, shooting 29.2%, his true shooting percentage was nearly 53%. 

When I watch Maxey, his shiftiness with the ball made him hard to contain. He thrives well in open spaces, using his incredible athleticism and quickness to convert for Kentucky. Confidence stands out tremendously as he’s not afraid of taking a game-winning shot. His intangibles make his game so fun to watch and worth drafting in the first round, as he will get that type of open space in the NBA.

Taking another risk at John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats won’t be unfamiliar for Pat Riley and the Heat, selecting Bam Adebayo No. 14 in 2017 and Tyler Herro No. 13 in 2019.

Weaknesses:

Like many freshmen, shot selections are a problem. Maxey threw up some immature shots at Kentucky, questioning why couldn’t have just moved the ball around instead of forcing one up. Maxey did play with two big-men however, clogging the paint all season long. A team like Miami won’t tighten the paint, as coach Erik Spoelstra prefers spreading the floor. As for his shooting percentage, Tyrese’s shot selection and consistency will certainly improve throughout time.

Maxey’s biggest issue is his play-making. He is too quick and crafty offensively to average just 3.2 assists a night. A one-dimensional scorer in the NBA he will be easy to contain, meaning that his ability to find open players needs to be worked on.

Defensively, he could be outmatched if he plays the 2 spot, being 6-foot-3. However, I believe he can be a consistent defender and won’t have that much of a difficulty staying with guards.

All in all, I believe Maxey can be a great addition to an organization off the bench for his first 1-2 years and then progress to the starting lineup. As for Miami, Maxey could definitely learn play-making from Heat veteran Goran Dragic. When the Kentucky guard finds his rhythm in the league, I see him becoming a mix of Collin Sexton, with his athleticism and speed and Bradley Beal, with his offensive firepower and play-making.

Maxey is projected to be picked during the middle of the first but could possibly increase as a lottery pick prospect. If the Miami Heat do get a chance on Tyrese Maxey, I think it’s an opportunity you can’t miss out on.

Michael Yero covers all of South Florida’s major pro teams, along with high school sports for 305 Sports. He also covers sports for Immaculata-La Salle High School’s student newspaper, the Royal Courier.

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