Believe it or not, the next NBA season is right around the corner. It’s draft week over at Five Reasons Sports as the Miami Heat prepare for Wednesday’s NBA draft.
The Heat hold the No. 20 pick in the draft. They don’t own their second-rounder this year thanks to the deal that landed Miami Zoran Dragic on back in 2015.
The Heat don’t have a long history with mid-first round picks, considering they’ve either been contending or rebuilding for much of their 32-year existence. They’ve made just five selections between picks 15 and 25, despite having 12 selections in that range over the years.
The NBA draft itself remains a crapshoot. Lottery talents flop while second round picks become revelations. While there haven’t been a ton of mid-first round picks in franchise history, the Heat’s history in the draft is spotty, especially in this range.
*For the purposes of this discussion, a mid-first round pick will (admittedly arbitrarily) be those between No. 15 (the first non-lottery selection) and No. 25.
Heat Draft History: Mid-Round Selections
Far and away the best pick for the Heat in the mid-first round remains Kevin Edwards. The Heat landed the No. 20 overall selection in an expansion draft deal with Dallas. Miami agreed not to select Bill Wennington, Uwe Blab or Steve Alford from the Mavericks in exchange for their 1988 first-round pick.
That’s right. They landed Kevin Edwards for not picking Uwe Blab.
(Side Note: Miami landed second-round picks in other expansion draft deals, too, including agreeing not to pick Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the Lakers or Dennis Johnson from the Celtics.)
Edwards led the expansion Heat as a rookie with a 13.8 scoring average and with 139 steals. A combo guard, Edwards continued as a regular starter through 1990. In 1991, he shifted to a sixth-man role. All told, Edwards played the first five seasons of his 11-year career with the Heat and seemingly started the do-it-all-undersized-two-guard archetype for the franchise. He finished his Heat career averaging 12.2 points, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals-per-game in 357 appearances.
The Heat wouldn’t hold another mid-first in the draft until 1999. That year, they used the No. 25 pick to take Tim James out of the University of Miami. James became the first local product to make his way to the Heat. He played high school ball at Miami Northwestern before joining UM. With the Hurricanes, James ended his career ranked fourth in scoring (1,713 points), fifth in rebounding (856) and second in blocks (224).
But his time with the Heat would be short lived. Heat head coach Pat Riley had James bulk up and that largely robbed the 6-7 wingman of his elite athleticism. He played just four games with Miami, scoring a total of 11 points. James was then part of the blockbuster deal with Charlotte that saw the Heat land Anthony Mason and Eddie Jones in 2000.
James would play in the NBA for two more seasons before enlisting the US Army for four years. During his tours in Iraq, James reportedly never told the other soldiers about his NBA career. After that, he bounced around the world playing pro ball. The Heat honored James in 2011 as part of their Home Strong program.
Interestingly, James wore the No. 40 while with the Heat, a number now worn by another South Florida high school basketball legend, Udonis Haslem.
Dorell Wright and Daequan Cook
Miami’s next mid-first round selection came in 2004. That year, the Heat took Dorell Wright out of Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA. This marks the only time in franchise history the team selected a high school player.
Wright appeared in three games as a rookie in 2004-05, scoring a total of seven points. Wright would play parts of six seasons with the Heat and was the youngest player on the team’s first NBA championship. He wouldn’t break into the rotation until his third season, when he played 66 games, scoring six points with 4.1 rebounds- and 1.4 assists-per-game.
Injuries and inconsistent opportunity kept Wright from fully developing with the Heat. Ultimately, Wright put up 6.3 points and 3.0 rebounds-per-game on 46 percent shooting in 211 games with Miami. When he left for Golden State in free agency in 2010, Wright vaulted to another level. He averaged a career-high 16.4 points-per-game that season, starting all 82 games.
In 2007, the Heat entered the draft with the No. 20 pick and took Jason Smith, a stretch big out of Colorado State. They flipped Smith to Philadelphia for the No. 21 selection, Daequan Cook, cash and a 2009 second rounder.
(That second round pick, incidentally, was later dealt to Minnesota in 2008 for none other than the goat, Mario Chalmers.)
Cook played the first three seasons of his six-year NBA career in Miami. His most notable moment was becoming the third Heat player to win the Three-Point Contest at All-Star Weekend. He proved to be a solid role player for a time, averaging 8.8 points as a rookie and 9.1 points in his second season. He was limited to just 45 games his third year before being dealt to Oklahoma City that offseason.
Wheeling and Dealing Mid-First Round Draft Picks
The Heat have always been willing to deal draft picks, particularly their mid-first round picks. Even in this draft, Miami may deal the pick, according to Five Reason’s Ethan Skolnick.
In 1990, the Miami Heat held the 3rd overall selection in the draft after an 18-64 season. The team traded the No. 3 (which became Chris Jackson, later Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) to Denver for the No. 9 and No. 15 selections. Miami turned those picks into Willie Burton and Dave Jamerson.
Kessler became the first player in Heat history to wear the No. 33, now retired for Alonzo Mourning. He played all four seasons of his career with Miami, averaging 5.2 points- and 3.2 rebounds-per-game in 210 appearances.
In 1996, the Heat’s first round pick, No. 16, went to Charlotte as part of the Mourning/Glen Rice trade. The Hornets used the pick to take Tony Delk out of Kentucky. Later in that draft, Miami made an ill-fated deal with Utah for the rights to the No. 25 selection, Martin Müürsepp.
The 6-9 power forward remains the only Estonian player to ever make an NBA appearance. The Heat sent a future first for Müürsepp, who played a grand total of 10 games and scored 17 points for Miami. The Heat then shipped Müürsepp to Dallas with Sasha Danilović and Kurt Thomas for Jamal Mashburn at the trade deadline that season.
Mid-First Round Draft Picks the Heat Dealt Away
Miami’s 1998 first rounder (No. 22) went to the Los Angeles Clippers with Isaac Austin and Charles Smith for Brent Barry. The Clippers would draft Brian Skinner with that pick, ahead of Ty Lue, Nazr Mohammed, Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis and Rafer Alston, among others.
In 2000, the pick Miami sent to Utah for Müürsepp turned into DeShawn Stevenson for the Jazz.
The Heat’s No. 20 overall selection in 2001 went to Cleveland as part of a complicated three-team trade that saw Shawn Kemp flip to Portland and Brian Grant come to Miami. The Cavs selected Brendan Haywood ahead of the likes of Gerald Wallace, Samuel Dalembert, Jamaal Tinsely, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.
In 2009, the Heat’s No. 18 pick in the first round went to Minnesota as part of the Ricky Davis/Antoine Walker trade. It was the second time the Heat had acquired Davis via trade. The No. 18 pick that year became Ty Lawson.
2010 saw the Heat package Daequan Cook and the No. 18 overall selection for Oklahoma City’s second rounder. This move cleared out addition cap space to help make the Big-3 Era possible. The second-round pick Miami acquired became Dexter Pittman. The No. 18 pick that year was Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe.
In 2016, the Heat lost their No. 24 overall pick to Cleveland, thanks to the sign-and-trade deal for LeBron James. The Cavs selected Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot ahead of Pascal Siakam and Dejounte Murray.
Finally, in 2018, Miami saw their No. 16 overall pick head to Phoenix as part of the Goran Dragic deal. The Suns would select Zhaire Smith. The Heat also stands to lose their 2021 first round draft pick in this deal.