The NBA Draft is almost here and the Miami Heat will be on the clock for the 18th pick. We look over some of the options that should be available for the Heat, as they pick yet another first-rounder to be part of their roster. We start out with Ben Sheppard, a wing out of Belmont. Sheppard was born on July 16th, 2001 and has spent the last four years at Belmont University.
Standing 6’5 with close to a 6’8 wingspan, Sheppard has the measurements of a solid wing. The first thing that stands out is his high fitness level and constant movement. He just never stops running, cutting behind defenses or going through screens to get the ball. And he’s exactly the same defensively, just keeping in constant movement, something the Heat are known to appreciate. Has extremely good ankle flexibility, to quickly turn corners and fake to cut backdoor and get easy baskets for his team.
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Has some three-level creation to his game, but is mostly a player to come off screens, shoot spot ups or attack closeouts. Brings the ball down a bit too much when catching, but is really quick to go up and releases at a high-enough point. Shot at a 38.6% rate on catch-and-shoot 3s for the season, a really good mark for a player who’s been evolving in that department.
His off screen scoring is off the charts, with 1.27 points per possession on 2.1 possessions/game, a stat the Heat will look at with special attention, given their screening offense. Sheppard can either attack the rim or stop for threes or mid-range shots coming off screens and hit them with good efficiency.
He’s also really good at attacking closeouts, using his shooting gravity to get defenders to bite on shot fakes and explode to the rim. Has the habit of leaving his feet too early when attacking the basket and hasn’t developed his upper body well enough to be able to withstand contact consistently, but his body control and quick reaction time allows him to avoid defenders or change his finish in the air, for some acrobatic layups.
Ben is a bit of a microwave scorer at times, being able to go on hot stretches of just insane shot making. Has a good-enough stepback jumper he can go to and doesn’t try to force too much, looking at what the defense gives him and getting to his spots comfortably. Wasn’t an initiator at Belmont, but was the main scorer and someone who could play pick and roll on second actions or late in the game.
Can manipulate defenses off pick and rolls or just when the defense focuses on, but was sometimes caught picking up his dribble and having to pass the ball out, due to a lack of great ball handling skills. As he’s mostly looking to score, he can miss some easy passes on rolls/cuts and even some open shooters, but is a willing passer and can find teammates on live dribble passes.
Really smart player with a high feel for the game, knows when to cut and, most importantly, how to set up his defender and cut backdoor, getting some easy points off his movement without the ball alone.
Was the main wing defender at Belmont, taking on the most difficult defensive assignments night in and night out. Puts pressure on the ball and can make ball handlers feel uncomfortable with their dribble. Has the lateral quickness to stay with attackers and the ankle mobility to quickly turn corners, although his hip flexibility leaves a bit to be desired.
Quicker players with good first steps and low centers of gravity when attacking were able to get past him when going to the rim. Is not really aggressive inside or quick enough to go from a defensive stance, trying to guard a drive to contesting a shot, usually letting players just lay up in front of him. Can’t really fight through screens due to his lack of strength.
Is able to recover at times but this is something that should be exacerbated at the NBA-level. Really sharp reacting to passes, plays the passing lanes really well and negates easy entries quite well. Stays sharp and attentive off the ball, but isn’t that switchable, especially inside where, yet again, his thin frame puts him at a disadvantage.
Stats (per 36): 19.5 PTS | 50.2% 2FG (8.5 ATT) | 41.9% 3FG (6.4 ATT) | 70.3% FT (4.1 ATT) | 5.6 REB | 3.1 AST | 1.4 STL | 2.3 TOV | 0.2 BLK | 27.2% USG
Has all the makings of a Heat player and Miami should be enticed to draft him. A 3-and-D prototype with the ability to attack the rim and some creation potential. Will be 22 years old once the season begins, so he should be ready to contribute right away.
His shooting would be welcome, as he can shoot on spot ups but also off movement and screens and doesn’t need much of the ball to be effective. His defense needs some work, but that’s exactly the kind of work the Heat do, putting on some muscle and cleaning up some on-ball mistakes he still does.
Should have a similar role to the one Caleb Martin plays, with less explosiveness near the rim and no point-of-attack defense prowess as of yet, but a better ability to read plays and a much better shooting package coming in.
Projected to be picked late in the first-round, Sheppard should be someone the Heat look to even possibly trade down and try to snag a second-round pick along with a later pick in the first.