Should the Heat trade down in the NBA Draft?

Jan 10, 2017; Morgantown, WV, USA; Baylor Bears forward Johnathan Motley (5) holds the ball while guarded by West Virginia Mountaineers forward Brandon Watkins (20) during the first half at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2017; Morgantown, WV, USA; Baylor Bears forward Johnathan Motley (5) holds the ball while guarded by West Virginia Mountaineers forward Brandon Watkins (20) during the first half at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Heat don’t have a second-round pick in the draft, yet they are working out players who don’t project as first-round talents.

Despite having the 14th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, the Miami Heat have been bringing in a lot of prospects who project much later than being selected in the lottery, even players who won’t likely be chosen until the second round. The Heat don’t have a second-round pick, and need to hit a home run with its first, so what gives?

On the Locked On Heat podcast, Wes and David look into whether or not the Heat are interested in moving down in the draft.

Q: The talent that Miami have interviewed and worked out so far are more late-first rounders or early second-round picks. Would it make more sense for the Heat to trade down? – Taisean Flats

David: “So I was looking into it a little bit and there was actually this great piece from Ira Winderman–I think it came out last week–where he interviews Chet Kammerer and talks to them about the whole workout process and he brings up a very valid point: That the last time the Heat had a top pick in the lottery, they never worked out either Caron Butler or Justise Winslow.

I imagine maybe they had workouts with Wade and Beasley being that they were top-five picks at that point, but when they are later in the first rounds, it gets a little more difficult to predict who is going to slip where. Remember, Butler and Winslow both slipped considerably in their respective drafts.

So, there’s also the politicking of when you schedule these workouts. A lot of agents now have workout days for their clients because it behooves them to show their players on a one-on-one basis where they highlight whatever skills. They can control the tempo, they can control what shots are put up and how. They work in a regular setting, they work with their regular coaches–guys who feed them the ball in just the right places–rather than have them go two-on-two, three-on-three in some situations, for a team where Spoelstra can run them through particular drills and maybe they’re not as adept, they don’t look as fluid, and that could hurt their draft stock.

So agencies want to control as much as possible the setting for these workouts so their clients can go higher in the draft.

I wouldn’t read too much into who Miami has had work out. They’ll probably attend other workouts later on–again, controlled by the agents–and that will give them the chance to at least see some of the players their more interested in taking with a top pick.”

Wes: “I agree, but I also disagree a little bit.

You’re completely right about the politics of the workouts, and it might just be a smoke screen, too. I mean, working out Ivan Rabb could be a thing the Heat are trying to do to drum interest in the idea that ‘Hey, maybe Miami really is looking at Ivan Rabb‘ and Portland all of a sudden says ‘Well we want Ivan Rabb, let’s trade up with Miami’ and then maybe they can get an extra pick out of it. I don’t know, that’s something that happens more in the NFL Draft I think, as opposed to the NBA, where teams typically just take the guy that they like and move on.

But I disagree in the sense that I think there is something you can read out of who they worked out. It tends to be big men in that fringe first round, second round area. Miami doesn’t have a second round pick, why would they be working out a Thomas Bryant out of Indiana?

It just seems strange to me that you’d be wasting your time on that when you only have one pick. And we’ve talked so much on this podcast about how it’s not just one pick in this draft, but they may not have have a pick in next year’s draft, they don’t have a second round pick until 2022. So why would you waste time on this where you really should be going all in on this 14th pick and trying to make the best, most educated decision you can?

It does make me think that they would be interested in trading down, or acquiring a second-round pick with cash or in some other way.

And they do tend to be looking at guys who play center, maybe project as a backup center or like someone they can hide in the G-League for a little bit. Or a guy who is a little more versatile like Johnathan Motley or John Collins or even Ivan Rabb, who can play the 4 and the 5. So I think there is something to read into that.”

Next: Who do the NBA mock drafts say the Heat will take?

These quotes were edited slightly for clarity. To listen to the rest of the podcast, where we talk about draft sleepers, Justise Winslow’s ceiling and more, click here.