With 3 championships in this century the Heat franchise is among the most successful in the NBA. Only the Lakers and Spurs were better during that span. Under the leadership of Pat Riley (as head coach from 1995-2003 and again 2005-2008 and executive since then) they’ve emerged as a powerhouse in the Eastern conference. Let’s not forget that the Heat joined the league in 1988, making them one of the youngest franchises. Unlike many other teams they did not make catastrophic draft mistakes which would cripple their ambitions for a long time. It is also noticeable that Miami did not possess a myriad of high picks over the history, another proof of their stability and regular season success.
Free agents found sunny Florida attractive and regularly signed with the Heat in the past, and this was also a desirable destination in many trades. Keeping this in mind, it is rather difficult to choose their worst draft mistakes. But we gave our best doing the research and discovered some interesting selections.
Here we go with presenting them.
Check NBA Draft Mistakes
5. NBA Draft 1993
You’ll find this one weird, as the Heat had just the second round pick (35th overall). Miami picked Ed Stokes, a center who ended up playing just 4 games for the Raptors and scoring 3 points in the NBA. Brilliant career. Chris Webber was the number one pick by Orlando.
Honorable mention: Bryon Russell, Chris Whitney
Draft steal: Nick Van Exel
After the lottery picks, it is hard to expect some game changing players, especially in the round two. Of course, over the years even the HOF inductees were selected in the second or even third round (Gervin, Rodman), but since 1989 the draft has consisted of two rounds. The fact that we are including this class on the list is a testimony of the prudence of the franchise’s management.
Two spots behind Stokes, the Lakers found future All-Star Nick Van Exel. Nick the Quick was a dynamic point guard with great shooting range and superb passing skills. He spent 13 seasons in the league, averaging 14.4 points and 6.6 assists per game. He had several 40+ point games and would be a perfect fit for Miami, had they selected him.
4. NBA Draft 2007
With the 20th pick the Heat drafted Jason Smith. Greg Oden was the top selection by the Trail Blazers, ahead of Kevin Durant (ouch).
Honorable mention: Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler, Aaron Brooks
Draft steal: Marc Gasol
The younger of Gasol brothers is certainly one of the greatest draft steals in recent memory. Considered a fluffy, overweighted burrito, Marc proved doubters wrong. Like, Steve Harvey at the Miss Universe wrong. In 2013 he was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, appearing in two All-Star games so far and the All-NBA First team in 2015. Among centers, Gasol is elite passer and defender. When all is said and done, he would probably go down as the greatest player in the Grizzlies history. On the other hand, Jason Smith is a mere backup journeyman whose career is close to the end.
3. NBA Draft 1995
In the year of Riley arrival, the Heat held the 10th pick. Kurt Thomas aka The Big Sexy was their choice, while the Warriors selected Joe Smith from the first position.
Honorable mention: Theo Ratliff, Brent Barry, Corliss Williamson
Draft steal: Michael Finley
Kurt Thomas enjoyed long NBA career, but spent only 2 seasons with Miami and never averaged more than 14 ppg in his career. Not the kind of production for a lottery guy. The Heat should have picked Michael Finley, who earned a couple of All-Star berths with the Mavericks, being an integral part of their Big 3 alongside Nash and Nowitzki. Versatile and resourceful guard with exceptional athleticism, Finley offered steady contributions on the both ends throughout career and finally got his ring with the Spurs in 2007.
2. NBA Draft 1992
Baby Jordan. A lot of hype. The Most Dominant Ever – Shaq, started his NBA reign with the Magic. Their division rival Miami ended up with Harold Miner, proud bearer of the flattering nickname from the first sentence (12th pick that year).
Honorable mention: Doug Christie, P.J. Brown, Anthony Peeler
Draft steal: Latrell Sprewell
If we exclude Jordan who existed in a league of his own, few guards could match the talent and tenacity of Sprewell in the 1990s. In his second season, he was so good that a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters voted him into the All-NBA First team and All-Defensive Second team. His finest season was 1996/97 with the Warriors – 24.2 ppg, 6.3 apg and 4.6 rpg. His resume consists of 4 All-Star berths, the NBA Finals appearance with the Knicks in 1999, record-setting performance behind the arc with 9/9 shooting versus Clippers (since tied by Ben Gordon) and a bunch of highlight reel dunks and moves. Unfortunately, Spree was a loose cannon with many controversies during his playing days, but if you needed a star shooting guard, he was your man.
1. NBA Draft 2008
With an abysmal 15-67 record in the 2007/08 campaign, the Heat had hoped to land the first pick but were disappointed by receiving the second. Derrick Rose went to the Bulls at No. 1 and Riley had to settle with forward Michael Beasley.
Honorable mention: Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Eric Gordon, Danilo Gallinari, DeAndre Jordan
Draft steal: Goran Dragic
Beasley was indeed dominant college player, who broke a couple of NCAA freshmen records. It was widely accepted that in him the Heat are getting future All-Star and MVP candidate. We all know what happened. Instead of him, Miami should have picked Russell Westbrook. At the moment Russ is a constant triple-double threat and a Top 5 player in the world. Without Durant, the Thunder are his team. Even when they were playing together, Westbeast was 25 ppg scorer. If Oklahoma somehow manages to make the postseason, he could win the MVP award. His athleticism is otherworldly and his energy contagious. Russell’s desire and willingness to sacrifice his body for the win are unparalleled. Imagining the duo Westbrook-Wade is mouth watering.