Miami Heat fans should get familiar with Ivan Rabb


Cal’s Ivan Rabb projects to be one of the top picks in next summer’s draft. He makes a lot of sense for the Miami Heat should they stumble this season.

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The months leading up to the start of NBA training camp are always interesting ones. Franchises try to sell their audience a dream, while pundits try to predict the outcome. Fans are left deciding which side of the rhetoric to lean towards.

For Miami Heat fans, the dilemma is playing out as tanking versus attempting to make a playoff run.

According to Kevin Pelton’s projections, Miami will be looking at a 36-46 season. Placing them in the rare position of possessing their very own lottery pick in the midst of a deep 2017 NBA Draft. A place where ESPN draft expert, Chad Ford, believes that the Heat could benefit.

In other words, fans around the Biscayne Bay area should get familiar with the name Ivan Rabb. Here’s how Ford thinks he would fit:

"“Rabb had a very strong freshman season at Cal. If he can get stronger and improve his outside shooting, he would be a great fit in Miami, especially as a potential Bosh replacement.” (Ford’s Mock Draft 1.0)"

Now we all know that Pat Riley is not the type of team president to indulge in tanking. Especially after mortgaging away much of the team’s future by trading six–past and present–draft picks to acquire Goran Dragic, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. However, if Pelton’s season prediction turns true, Rabb would be more than just a consolation prize.

The 6-foot-11, 220 pound power forward averaged 13 points and nine rebounds in his freshman season, including 12 double-doubles in 34 games.

At first glance, those numbers may only look semi-impressive for a highly touted recruit. That is until you consider that Rabb was sharing the floor with this year’s No. 3 pick, Jaylen Brown, and only putting up 7.7 shots a game. So the potential to get better is there.

Which was one of several reasons he gave for ignoring guaranteed millions to return to Cal.

"“I know I need to get stronger,” Rabb said. “I want to come back better defensively, a better shooter, a better rebounder, more comfortable on the floor. I want to be the leader. I wanted to have a bigger role.”"

All of which are good signs to any general manager regarding his work ethic, and also a precursor to the “Miami Heat culture.”

The opportunity to draft Rabb would be similar to Miami’s situation with Justise Winslow.

If Bosh is able to take the court, the rookie could be groomed, from the bench, as his eventual replacement, à la Winslow and Luol Deng. Though if Bosh is unable to play and is forced to retire, Erik Spoelstra could have a 61.5 percent shooting stretch-4 to mold in his departed All-Star’s image.

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While it may seem too early to looks towards June’s draft, the Heat have to go into the season open to exploring all options. The odds of things going bad without Dwyane Wade are high. The uncertainty around Bosh pushes them even higher.

This alternative will only exist if the season takes a turn for the worse. As we saw with Winslow, a lost season could become a blessing in disguise.