The Miami Heat, as currently constituted, are nowhere near the NBA’s Conference Finals.
They weren’t as good as any of the bottom four teams in the East’s playoff bracket — and none of those teams, after Victor Oladipo was injured for Indiana, were all that good. But, at the very least, there is some validation of Miami’s recent approach, which has been to build from the middle rather than break it all down and sink to the bottom.
Toronto, Milwaukee, Portland and even Golden State rose to prominence with picks outside the top 5.
The Raptors started their rise with the drafting of DeMar DeRozan ninth overall in 2009; eventually DeRozan was flipped for Kawhi Leonard, taken 15th by San Antonio. New star Pascal Siakam was taken 27th.
The Bucks? Giannis was 15th also. Khris Middleton, scrapped by Detroit, was a second rounder. Brook Lopez went 10th to the Nets. Eric Bledsoe was 24th.
The Blazers? Their excellent backcourt came into the league at No. 6 (Dame Lillard) and No. 10 (CJ McCollum).
Then there are the Warriors. And we know it’s unfair now, as long as former No. 2 overall pick Kevin Durant is healthy. But the original base of the squad was constructed with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all of whom should have been drafted higher than they were, with Curry (7) the highest.
Draft slots of best players left in NBA Playoffs:
15 (Giannis, Kawhi)
24 (Lowry, Ibaka)
The Heat can do well at 13.@5ReasonsSports
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 13, 2019
The point is, you can build through the middle. Denver, which nearly got to the West Final, has done it as well as anyone. Philadelphia, which was a shot from the East Final, has done it the other way — but Phoenix has tried that way and its only elite player is a guy the Suns took 11th (Devin Booker). None of the other players, picked higher than the players in the posted tweet, are as good at the moment as anyone on that list.
And Miami has done well in the middle with three picks, all of which have outperformed their draft slots as compared to the other players in that draft, whether Justise Winslow at 10, or Bam Adebayo at 14, or especially Josh Richardson at 40 — Richardson has been the third most productive player in his draft so far.
So even if our Lottery Draft Party (at Tap 42 in Midtown Miami) is a spectacular failure, and Miami slips from No. 13 to No. 14 rather than moving up, it still can land a quality player. And get the narrative of team-building back in its favor.