With Thursday’s NBA Draft finally here, I’ve put together a list of 25 players for my Miami Heat “Big Board”. With help from Brady Hawk and Greg Sylvander sharing information about who Miami has worked out, I included those players in addition to prospects I felt were fits for the Heat’s system. The Heat are among many teams who may choose to move out of the late 1st round, so I included prospects who would be good fits in the 2nd round or even signed as undrafted free agents. To help Heat fans catch up, I’ve made a comparison to a historical Heat player they may be more familiar with!
- EJ Liddell (6’6” F Ohio State) – Played as an undersized post for much of his time at Ohio State. Terrific switchable defender on the ball and protects the rim. In comparison to the other defensive-minded 4’s on this list, he brings the best complimentary offensive game right away. That being said, it can still use some polish with ball handling and passing skills. Likely taken ahead of Miami’s 27th pick based on most mock drafts.
Historic Heat Comp: more athletic PJ Tucker
- Jaden Hardy (6’4” G Ignite) – Provides a skill set that Miami lacks on its roster. Hardy has a deep bag of ball handling moves and can create a shot on his own. He seems to project immediately as a volume scorer off the bench with the potential to grow into a much more lethal scorer with more complimentary skills. Many rumors of him sliding could put him in range of Miami’s 27th pick.
Historic Heat Comp: Dion Waiters
- Blake Wesley (6’3” G Notre Dame) – The highest ranked player on most big boards that worked out for Miami. Wesley is an elusive ball handler and score-first player but still needs consistency in his shot and finishing. Near 7’ wingspan and athleticism provides a huge defensive upside.
Historic Heat Comp: Kevin Edwards
- Nikola Jovic (6’10” F Serbia) – With many defensive minded 4’s on this list, Jovic brings guard skills as nearly a 7 footer. Still a project that will need development on both ends, but his skillset is the mold for modern stretch 4’s. Defensively is a long way from capable of defending at even an average level in the NBA.
Historic Heat Comp: younger Rashard Lewis
- Walker Kessler (7’0” C Auburn) – Athletic big and elite shot blocker. Needs to get stronger to defend NBA bigs. Good screener and finisher, only a roller at this point but has shown flashes of becoming a pick and pop big.
Historic Heat Comp: Hassan Whiteside without the baggage
- Jake LaRavia (6’7” F Wake Forest) – Creative passer and good spot-up shooter. Doesn’t provide much off the bounce, but moves well without the ball. While he lacks elite athleticism, competes on defense and can defend multiple positions if he adds NBA strength. Fits what Miami likes at the 4, so likely why Miami worked him out.
Historic Heat Comp: Shane Battier
- Andrew Nembhard (6’3” G Gonzaga) – Coming into the draft at 22 years old, seems close to an NBA ready backup PG. High IQ creator and very physical guard on both ends. Three-level potential, but shot could use polishing.
Historic Heat Comp: Beno Udrih
- Caleb Houstan (6’8” F Michigan) – Another fit in the mold of what Miami wants in a complimentary piece next to Jimmy and Bam in the front court. Obviously the Juwan Howard connection at Michigan provides great insight into his projection in Miami. Great catch and shoot threat, high IQ passer, but limited off the bounce. Not the best athlete but should survive defensively.
Historic Heat Comp: Markieff Morris
- Christian Koloko (6’11” C Arizona) – Huge potential as shot blocker and finisher, but if you’re Miami, can he fit next to Bam without a jumper? He’s still very raw and would require added strength and development. In theory, he’s an intriguing prospect but not sure the fit is there for the Heat.
Historic Heat Comp: Jarvis Varnado
- Christian Braun (6’6” G Kansas) – Pesky, high-energy defender and superb athlete who thrives in the open floor. Needs to add NBA strength and consistent outside shot to stick in the league. Worked out for Miami and fits the mold of wings who the Heat have developed over recent years.
Historic Heat Comp: Josh Richardson
- Justin Lewis (6’6” F Marquette) – Strong, long (7’2” wingspan), switchable defender. Worked out for Miami and would seem to be an ideal fit in their defensive system. Still needs polish offensively to compliment his defensive strengths.
Historic Heat Comp: James Johnson without guard skills
- Josh Minott (6’8” F Memphis) – Elite athlete with high-flying bounce. Switchable defender with elite upside, but must add NBA strength to play small-ball 5. Offense is a huge project to develop with no real shooting, passing, or dribbling skills. Worked out for Miami and would address the lacking athleticism on the roster.
Historic Heat Comp: Mark Strickland
- Dereon Seabron (6’7” G NC State) – Athletic guard who specializes in getting downhill (80% of FGA at the rim). Poor shooter at this point so would require development in that area. Defensive-upside with his length. Miami worked him out and will fill the need for rim pressure on the perimeter.
Historic Heat Comp: Qyntel Woods
- Jabari Walker (6’9” F Colorado) – Switchable defender who has high defensive upside. Not quite athletic enough to play the 3, not strong/big enough to survive at the 4. His offensive game needs polish to stick in the league long term. Miami worked him out and fits the mold they’ve used at the 4.
Historic Heat Comp: more athletic Samaki Walker
- Keon Ellis (6’6” G Alabama) – Creates havoc as an on-ball defender with this athleticism and length (6’9” wingspan). Worked out for Miami and would be ideal playing the top of their 2-2-1 press. Offensive upside is there, but needs polish.
Historic Heat Comp: James Ennis
- John Butler (7’0” F Florida State) – While certainly a development project, Butler is a 7 footer who can defend multiple positions and is a knockdown shooter (39%) from outside. Could develop into a pick and pop big, but needs to add strength (only 175 lbs.) to survive in the NBA.
Historic Heat Comp: taller Okaro White
- Moussa Diabate (6’10” F Michigan) – Switchable defender with length (7’2” wingspan). Effective rebounder. Useful as a pick & roll big, but has limited offensive skill outside of that. Worked out for Miami and played for Juwan Howard at Michigan.
Historic Heat Comp: Willie Reed
- Jaylin Williams (6’9” F Arkansas) – Another defensive-minded 4, but lacks athleticism and shooting ability to fit the Heat’s mold. He is considered to be the best charge taker in the draft, so he already bought into the Heat Culture. Would need significant development on the offensive end to become an NBA rotation player.
Historic Heat Comp: Grant Long
- Julian Champagnie (6’8” G/F St John’s) – Scorer who does most of his damage on the perimeter. Doesn’t have elite quickness, but can create shots off the dribble. Needs improvement off the catch and shoot mechanics likely would be tweaked. Has high defensive “two-way” upside and is already a very effective off-ball defender. Worked out for Miami.
Historic Heat Comp: Rasual Butler
- Jordan Hall (6’7” G St Joseph’s) – Not a great athlete overall, but displays excellent passing abilities for his size. Will need to improve as a shooter and show ability to defend at NBA level.
Historic Heat Comp: Shaun Livingston
- Collin Gillespie (6’3” G Villanova) – With Miami’s history of developing shooters, and Villanova’s history of putting guards into the league, this could be a great development match. Gillespie is a rare five-year senior who shot 42% from behind the arc who brings a mature control of running an offense. He plays with a high motor, but likely will struggle to defend NBA guard.
Historic Heat Comp: Damon Jones
- Jamaree Bouyea (6’2” G San Francisco) – Likely an undrafted prospect, Bouyea could draw attention as an all-around point guard with great creation ability. His 6’7” wingspan and abilities away from the ball could be developed into a capable defender.
Historic Heat Comp: Norris Cole
- Jared Rhoden (6’6” G Seton Hall) – Lacks elite athleticism, but was a volume scorer for Seton Hall. Could develop into an off the bench bucket getter with solid defense.
Historic Heat Comp: Kasib Powell
- Trevion Williams (6’8” F Purdue) – Lacks in the defensive skills that are typically identified with a Heat forward, but projects as a pick and roll big with strong passing skills out of the short roll. Will need to improve his outside shot and find a way to survive defensively as a slower, undersized big.
Historic Heat Comp: Yante Maten
- Quenton Jackson (6’4” G Texas A&M) – Combo guard who can provide scoring punch. Good athlete with two-way potential. Entering draft at 23 years old. Worked out for Miami.
Historic Heat Comp: Khalid Reeves
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