ESPN projects Miami Heat to draft long wing defender with 18th pick

NBA Draft prospect Rayan Rupert (Photo by Simon Sturzaker/Getty Images)
NBA Draft prospect Rayan Rupert (Photo by Simon Sturzaker/Getty Images) /

Oh, hey, the NBA draft is less than two weeks away. Hot off an NBA Finals run, the Miami Heat must quickly turn their attention to the June 22 draft and what they will do with the No. 18 pick.

While the Heat won’t have a chance to nab one of the draft’s blockbuster prospects like Victor Wembanyama, Scott Henderson, or Brandon Miller, there are several highly-regarded prospects expected to fall in their range.

The Heat are also in a position where they don’t have to picky based on positional need. That’s because they have several players entering free agency, and could use the draft to fill any of those needs at guard, forward or center. Miami’s approach should be based on the best player available.

According to ESPN, that could be New Zealand’s Rayan Rupert. At 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Rupert projects as a versatile wing defender with 3-and-D upside. Rupert shot 31.3% from 3-point range in the NBL last season. Here’s ESPN’s scouting report:

"Rupert’s skills and strong work ethic have kept him somewhat steadily in this range of the draft and make him an intriguing prospect. He should be on track to fill a role with his defense and offer a solid long-term outlook as his offensive game improves. He would fit nicely with a Heat team that could use more length and defensive backbone on the perimeter. Miami may also lose some depth in free agency, where Gabe Vincent and Max Strus could depart or become much more expensive to retain, making this pick a key opportunity for the Heat to inject some youth."

Rupert’s reputation and work ethic seem to fall in line with the kind of players the Heat typically look for, and his skillset would help shore up Miami’s perimeter defense and infuse an element of length and athleticism that doesn’t currently exist on the roster.

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