The Heat are entering one of its most pivotal off-season’s in franchise history. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all can exercise their early termination options and the only player with a guaranteed deal for the 2014-15 season is Norris Cole, giving the Heat more financial flexibility, something they haven’t had since the 2010 off-season.
Good thing, too. The Heat have major holes they need to fill on their roster. Shane Battier is retiring, Ray Allen is waiting to see what LeBron does, and Mario Chalmers likely played his last game in a Heat uniform; which means they don’t have a realistic starting point guard for next season.
The Heat need a plan, a very decisive one.
“We need to retool. Not rebuild. Everybody needs to get a grip,” Pat Riley told reporters Thursday.
That being said, using the NBA Draft to retool is a good idea.
Draft Needs (assuming Big Three are still on roster):
1. Point Guard
2. Shooting Guard
Now the Heat could go in several different directions with their pick. They currently hold the 26th overall pick, which means they’re definitely not getting elite talent. Notable players the Heat have worked out are: PJ Hairston, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Russ Smith.
Hairston and Adams are both players that could come off the bench, or possibly start for Dwyane Wade if he’s injured.
Kyle Anderson is a guy that has really impressed me. Much like Otto Porter, Anderson is a stat-sheet-stuffer who likes to get his teammates involved. Although Anderson is a small forward, he has the IQ and dribbling capabilities to turn into a hybrid point guard.
Anderson would be a great addition, but I don’t think he will be available when the Heat are on the clock.
Although the Heat have not had him in for a visit yet, Shabazz Napier is another intriguing prospect. After winning the NCAA Mens Basketball Championship two times in his four-year career at UConn, Napier has proven to NBA teams that he can win. He does not have elite athleticism, nor is he tall (6’0”), but he knows how to score and manage a game; something the Heat expect out of their point guards.
Napier averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game in his senior season. In the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Napier averaged 21.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, garnering him the Most Outstanding Player award for the tournament.
According to Chad Ford, Napier is a bit of a tweener and is undersized for the position. However, Ford points out that Napier has a quick first step and is an excellent defender. In his latest Mock Draft, he has Miami selecting the point guard, but also explains Napier could be selected a little earlier than expected.
Napier has a lot of fans and a lot of skeptics. The fans point out that Napier is the most NBA-ready point guard in the draft, a fearless player who can both shoot and defend. The skeptics point to his lack of size and age, and question whether he has the physical attributes to play in the NBA. His range right now starts at No. 19 to the Bulls and likely ends with the Clippers at No. 28.
Napier would be an immediate upgrade over Chalmers and would be able to come in and compete with Norris Cole for the starting job.
The only realistic option is to pick Napier if he is still on the board. The Heat need an upgrade at the point guard position, and Napier can give them exactly what they need.
Forget going after a “traditional” big man, the Heat play small-ball, and will continue to do so until the Big Three leave. I fully expect Riley to go all-in for Napier if he’s available.