The Miami Heat are in a pretty unique situation when it comes to the 2022 NBA draft. They do currently possess the 27th pick in the first round, but to be completely transparent, there doesn’t feel to be much confidence that they’re actually selecting a player in that spot for themselves.
As the Heat continue to lurk in the trade market, that draft pick will be one of the assets to throw into a specific package. But well, there’s still that small percentage they end up drafting someone, so we’re going to dive right into that.
Another funny thing, though, that points in the direction of them trading the pick is that all of the players that are coming in for workouts are in that second round range. If you’ve kept up with Greg Sylvander’s reporting from Five Reasons Sports, you would know the list of names.
And yet, some of those names are aligned with the ones I’m discussing here. So let’s get right into it…
#1: Justin Lewis (6’7, 245 lbs, Marquette)
If you’ve kept up with my twitter feed when discussing the Heat’s options in the draft, you would know that there’s one specific name that I’ve been pushing often: Justin Lewis.
Lewis isn’t the most flashy name or somebody that’s being discussed often, but when I began diving into some prospects, he stood out for the Miami Heat specifically.
Not only because that Marquette tag usually means good things, just ask Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, but he also fits the strong, quick, and tough wing build that I believe Miami will be searching for.
If you listened to Pat Riley’s comments after the season ended, it’s clear that any young player they bring in will have a high defensive motor to counteract this current roster. And well, Lewis has just that.
He’s both strong and laterally quick, meaning he can really bother opposing offensive players on the perimeter and the interior. Very great at contesting shots, and most of all, he’s pretty versatile for his age, which will get the Erik Spoelstra sign of approval.
I also believe he has a pretty fluid offensive games, just in terms of his jumper. A lot of guys in this range who can defend have slightly funky mechanics and form, which is another thing that allows him to stand out. It feels as if he can be a serviceable shooter on that side of the floor to be a 3 & D wing.
Lewis is also in the category of players that have worked out for the Heat, as Greg Sylvander reported. But this is a guy specifically I have kept some tabs on for some time for the Heat to grab. Maybe not with that 27th pick per se, but possibly if they buy a second rounder.
Keep an eye on him.
#2: Caleb Houstan (6’8, 205 lbs, Michigan)
Much like Marquette always seems to come up, the same goes for Michigan with the ties to Juwaun Howard. They’ve already worked out big man Moussa Diabatte from there, but I have a different Wolverine in mind.
If the Heat do stay in their first round slot, a lot of it will be based off “best available,” or sometimes a better way to phrase it: “most talented.”
Caleb Houstan is a guy that entered college as a lottery type talent, but things didn’t go as he probably planned his freshman year. Yet, he still has the high level mechanics and talent to be a valuable piece, specifically in the Heat’s developmental program.
It should be initially stated that he is an incredible shooter, both off the catch and on the move. He has a super smooth jumper with a good amount of length, which is a pretty good formula for his build.
In terms of the defensive stuff, he may not be as great as some of the others on this list, but his length means that he has some upside. He can bother shooters and I’d guess he would be gaining a bit more muscle as he enters the NBA.
If any team will know something, it’ll probably be the Heat with insider Juwaun Howard, which is why I think it’s a decent option for a late first rounder.
#3: Julian Champagnie (6’8, 215 lbs, St John’s)
Before even entering into some hoops talk, Julain Champagnie fits the build with his 6 foot 8 frame and 6’10 wingspan. But that’s not what caught my eye after it was reported that he worked out with Miami as well. It was simply his game, instead.
Lewis might be a bit more defense than offense. Houstan a bit more offense than defense. But Champagnie, on the other hand, feels to be a true two-way threat.
He has a solid jumper, but the fact that he can rise right over the top of you is his true gift. He can pull-up reasonably quick, since all he needs is to turn into face-up position, and he’s got you.
The defensive stuff is semi-aligned with some of the others I’ve discussed, since his physicality can really carry him at times. But when watching more and more of his defensive possessions, he really seems to have a high IQ on that end: knowing when to force left, when to dip off, when to explode.
So, if all of this is so great, why is he ranked so low on the boards?
Part of that starts with his abilities as a downhill threat, since there isn’t a lot of confidence in him at the moment as an attacker or finisher. He’s not an isolation, “I’m going to break you down” type of player, but in situations like Miami, he wouldn’t need to be.
Not that these type of players would be in their rotation anyway, but when you get picked up into a bad team, they let you off the leash to kind of go wild with your skills. With Miami forcing him into a certain role right out the gate, that fits his play-style really well.
So, once again, keep an eye out.
#4: Dalen Terry (6’7, 195 lbs, Arizona) / Keon Ellis ( 6’6, 175 lbs, Alabama)
I’m personally not of the mindset that the Heat need to lean guard by any means, which is why I’ve been heavily talking about certain wings, but if there was an exception: it would be these two.
The reason I packaged them together is they fit two different scenarios. Dalen Terry with the late first rounder, and Keon Ellis as the potential second rounder snag.
Terry is definitely in their pick range, and he’s definitely in their player history. When watching his game on the defensive end, I feel like I’ve seen this movie too many times to not include him. He’s lengthy with incredible on-ball skills to bother any ball-handler trying to push pace or get into the initial set.
He also has good play-making instincts and can attack quite a bit, but the only thing holding me back is team need. Yet I don’t think that’s how the Heat are looking at it, since if they believe he’s the best player sitting there, they will grab him.
Keon Ellis, on the other hand, is someone a bit lower on draft boards, yet equally as fiery. And by the way, he also worked out with the team recently.
In the same manner, he’s a high level defender specifically on the ball, yet I may lean in his direction in terms of my confidence in outside shooting.
He’s shown to be a comfortable catch and shoot threat this past season while playing in many different spots on the floor. Ellis is also very explosive and enjoys running the open floor, which means exactly what you’re thinking: he’s a strong finisher.
The Heat have been in these type of scenarios before, and it feels like they always lean in the same direction: if a late first rounder and a second rounder/undrafted prospect are similar, they will always go with the latter.
So, that’s something interesting to monitor.
#5: Jabari Walker (6’9, 215 lbs, Colorado)
The last one I’m touching on swings right back in the direction of lengthy wings, which in this case is another guy who the Heat have worked out: Jabari Walker.
Defensively, he screams versatility with his ability to constantly switch all over the place, since that’s all he did in college, which is enticing to this current Heat group. Plus, he possesses a 7 foot wingspan to go along with the natural mechanics.
Something that differs from past prospects on that end is he proved to be equally as elite off the ball defensively as he was on it. Hitting passing lanes, tagging off the weak-side, recovering back to the corner shooter. He’s somebody that’s probably a bit more known than the other prospects, but he should still be on the board by 27.
Not to mention, he also has a good spot-up three like I’ve discussed with others, but ideally I don’t think you want him creating much off the bounce.
When discussing guys in this range, they all have some form of limitations at this stage, but the idea is to find the guy that can break-through those barriers the fastest.
And with so many guys to choose from, these are just a few of those options that I believe would hold a high level of interest to the Miami Heat’s organization with the NBA draft about a week away.
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