The Miami Heat NBA draft board: Pre-lottery edition

Apr 1, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Zach Collins (32) reacts during the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Zach Collins (32) reacts during the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

With the NBA Draft Combine underway and the lottery coming up, let’s take a look at how the Miami Heat’s draft board might look right now.

The Miami Heat got a chance to get a look at some prospects last week at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. With new information, the Heat are surely changing their draft board and, in an attempt to guess what that looks like, so will we.

According to the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post, we know the Heat have talked with UCLA’s T.J. Leaf, North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, Baylor’s Jonathan Motley, Indiana’s Thomas Bryant, Florida’s Devin Robinson and Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon, among other second-round rated prospects.

This will be the third addition of the draft board. You can find the last one here, if you want. Before we jump in to the latest rankings, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The Heat are currently in line for the no. 14 pick, but that could change during the NBA Draft Lottery, when they have nowhere to go but up. So for the sake of this exercise we’ll build a draft board for prospects 1-20.
  • This is not a general rankings of prospects. Rather, this list is custom-made for the Heat. That means it will look different than NBA Draft boards you’ll see elsewhere, because it’s tailored for our projected team needs.

1. Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington

I had the pleasure of watching Markelle Fultz in person when he played Cal in Berkeley but, unfortunately, it was one of his worse games of the season. I still came away impressed, and without any doubts that he’s a future All-Star at the NBA level. The game looks easy for him, and he has offensive moves for days — dribble spin, the step back, the crossover — and, despite playing on one of the worst rosters in college basketball, is still adept at finding his teammates for open shots. Fultz can make his teammates better and, when playing with NBA-caliber players, he will shine.

2. Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA

The flashiest and most interesting player in the draft, Ball walked into UCLA and transformed the culture and feeling around the program. The ball moved and the offense soared as the Bruins were one of the best teams in the country. There’s questions about his jumper despite shooting 41% on 5.4 3-pointers per game, though I’m not as worried as some. A team will have to change there offense to fit Ball’s talents, but that’s what you do for a potential franchise player anyway. Especially one whose skill set jives with modern NBA trends.

3. Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke (Previously No. 4)

Tatum rose up draft boards as he became Duke’s go-to weapon on offense late in the season. He’s the most natural and versatile scorer in this class behind only Fultz. He doesn’t have high-end athleticism, but he compensates with a barrel of an upper body. Potential small-ball 4 potential.

4. Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona (Previously No. 9)

Our highest riser on the board. 7-footers who can shoot are all the rage in the NBA, and Markkanen is just that. There are questions about his defense and toughness, but having a big who can space the floor is just so valuable. For the Heat, Markkanen would be a perfect complement to Hassan Whiteside, who can protect the rim while Markkanen spaces the floor for Miami’s attacking guards.

5. Jonathan Isaac, PF, Florida State (Previously No. 8)

The NBA loves long dudes with guard skills, and Isaac’s length, at 6-foot-10, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, combined with his skill set makes him a tantalizing prospect. Isaac can make 3s and projects as an extremely versatile defender. If he puts on more weight, he could see some time as a center, too.

6. Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas (Previously No. 3)

Most people have Josh Jackson as one of the best two-to-four prospects in the draft, but the Heat don’t need a player like Jackson. Mostly because they already have one, and his name is Justise Winslow.

7. Malik Monk, G, Kentucky (No change)

Much like Devin Booker before him, Monk was relegated to mostly shooting 3’s at Kentucky, but may be able to show off more in the NBA. He should be able to run a pick-and-roll, and his deadly shooting provides spacing for the offense. He projects as a point guard or a 2-guard, depending on the offense. The problem with Monk is that he doesn’t have great size, nor is he a proven ball handler. If all he can do is shoot 3s, he won’t be worth a top-10 pick. Still, the potential to be an elite scorer is there, and is worth taking.

 8. De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky (Previously No. 6)

Fox is drawing comparisons to a young John Wall. He may be the best pure athlete in this class and gets to the basket at will. His shot is questionable, but it can be worked on. Fox is custom made for slash-and-kick, which would fit perfectly in Miami’s offense. He’d have time to learn behind Goran Dragic, and could eventually become his running mate or replacement.

9. Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga (Previously No. 10)

This is what Chet Kammerer, Miami’s vice president of player personnel, said about Collins, per the Miami Herald:

"“We got a lot of guys here who didn’t even start [in college],” he said. “They were coming off the bench and we’re talking about them. Zach Collins from Gonzaga, he never started a game. I went and saw him play in November [and] I wrote something real short: ‘Definite good player, a player to follow next year because he could be special.’ And by the end of the year, now we’re talking about him being a top 10 [pick]. It’s so hard to even predict anymore because anybody who plays a significant role, they declare.”"

Sure sounds like the Heat would be happy if Collins fell to them at 14.

10. OG Anunoby, F, Indiana (Previously No. 11)

He tore his ACL early in the college basketball season, but was arguably a top-10 pick before the injury. Anunoby is potentially a lock-down perimeter defender with length (he measured out well at the combine with an over 7-foot wingspan) and athleticism to pair nicely next to Justise Winslow. Anunoby and Winslow could become the league’s most dominant perimeter defense duo, and both have upside on the offensive end of the ball.

11. Dennis Smith Jr., PG, N.C. State (Previously No. 7)

Smith is the anti-Lonzo Ball. He’s score first, pass second. But that described a ton of elite point guards in the NBA. Look at Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard. Smith is uber athletic and can punch his way to the rim. His stock dropped after his team didn’t make the NCAA tournament, but if this pick hits he could be one of the best players in this class.

12. Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina (No change)

Jackson can get buckets, but don’t sleep on his passing ability. He has good court vision and above-average touch. Would work well as a floor spacer right away and, if he improves his handle, could develop into an extra ball handler in Miami’s drive-and-kick game.

13. Ivan Rabb, PF, Cal (Previously No. 19)

Rabb is a safe pick. He sets good screens, plays good defense, and has nice tough around the rim. Cal didn’t ask him to take many 3s, but he told reporters he’s confident he can extend his range. Rabb is an NBA-ready rebounder and a smart defender, and projects as a 4/5. I’d compare him to a young Al Horford.

14. Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA (Previously not rated)

Anigbogu may have caught the eye of the Heat’s scouts during the combine because, as DraftExpress points out, he compared favorably to Alonzo Mourning.

"18-year-old UCLA center Ike Anigbogu measured 6’8.5 barefoot with a massive 7’6.25 wingspan, giving him the largest wingspan-to-height differential at this year’s NBA Combine and one of the top marks in our database all-time surpassing notoriously long players like Kawhi Leonard and Hassan Whiteside by a comfortable margin. Tipping the scales at 252 pounds, Anigbogu is a rare physical specimen whose closest physical comparison is likely Alonzo Mourning who measured  6’9.5 in shoes with a 7’6.5 wingspan and a 249-pound frame in 1992 as a 22-year-old after his senior season at Georgetown."

15. Luke Kennard, G, Duke (No change)

This is for my homies worried about Tyler Johnson’s contract. Kennard is a good 3-point shooter and underrated ball handler. He projects as a combo guard at the next level. If Kennard is the best player available, the Heat could take him, look to deal Johnson at the trade deadline, and duck those big third- and fourth-year salaries. Kennard could also be insurance in case the Heat don’t re-sign Dion Waiters.

16. T.J. Leaf, PF, UCLA (Previously No. 13)

Leaf’s perimeter shooting, toughness and general gets-buckets-ness makes him a great fit for the Heat, whose biggest team need will likely be power forward. Coming from UCLA’s system, he’s a willing and able passer with enough defensive potential. He drops a few spots because of his unimpressive measurables at the combine (a disappointing 6-foot-11 wingspan).

17. Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia (Previously not rated)

One of the better pure shooters in the draft with nice length. He’d be a nice floor spacer for the Heat, with some real upside as a scorer.

18. Jarrett Allen, C, Texas (Previously No. 17)

The highest-rated center on most boards. Some people have Allen going in the top 10. The Heat don’t need a center, but he had to fall somewhere. Could be a nice value play and provide backup minutes to Hassan Whiteside.

19. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, International (Previously No. 14)

If the Heat are looking for upside on the board when they pick, Hartenstein is it. He has the athleticism and talent to be a future unicorn. Or he can bust. Hartenstein flashed toughness and range on his shot oversees this past season.

20. Harry Giles, PF/C, Duke (No change)

Giles is the ultimate bang or bust prospect in the draft. He was the top-rated recruit last season but, at 18 years old, he already has a long history of injuries. He tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus after his freshman year in high school, tore the ACL in his other knee during his senior season, and underwent a knee procedure early in Duke’s season. Giles has the length (6-foot-11, long arms), mobility and talent that makes him an enticing prospect, much in the mold of a young Chris Bosh. It all depends if those knees check out.

Next: What should the Heat do with their draft pick?

If the Heat re-sign its main free agents, thereby clogging up future flexibility, drafting Giles at the end of the lottery could be one way to land a top talent who can increase Miami’s ceiling.