The Miami Heat Beat Big Board: Bigs

This is a re-post from earlier this month…

Your Tankathon simulations were futile. Sorry. The Miami Heat will be drafting 13th.

With that finally being settled, the Heat Beat/Five Reasons crew will be rolling out some piping hot draft #content for you. We — as in myself, Greg “Leif “Sylvander, and Jack Alfonso — will kick things off with some general big boards, covering players that may be available around Miami’s range. We started with the guards, added the wings. and knocked out the forwards. Now we’ll touch on some of the bigs. This one will be shorter for obvious reasons — just look at the roster for crying out loud.

Tier 1

Bol Bol, Oregon, Freshman, Center, 7’2” 207 lbs

Stats: 21.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 2.7 blocks, 56/52/76 shooting split

Say hello to the only center I think the Heat seriously consider at 13.

Bol Bol, the large adult son of former NBAer Manute Bol, is an absolutely massive human. 7’2 guys with 7’7 wingspans don’t grow on trees. Once you add in the combination of shooting and ball-handling, you’re looking at, without hyperbole, one of the five most unique draft prospects ever.

It must be emphasized that Bol isn’t a knocks-down-open-spot-ups guy, he’s a legit shooter. He already has NBA range and has flashed the ability to knock down one or two-dribble pull-ups. Post fades are part of his offensive repertoire. With his release point, good luck contesting those fadeaways, much less blocking them.

On the defensive end, Bol does two things at a high level. He challenges shots at the rim, and ends possessions. His 12.4 block percentage and 29.0 defensive rebound percentage are both elite marks.

That’s … probably where the positives end.

Bol has great shooting touch and a nice handle, but I worry about how effective he’ll be using both. He’s not a great screener at this stage. He’s never really had to be, and that shows through with poor positioning and timing. His frame further limits him in that regard, and I imagine that’ll be amplified on the NBA level.

It’s hard to get super excited because of how easily he can be bodied up. The fadeaway on the block is a nice counter, but if he can never establish deep post positioning against fellow bigs, how efficient of a post scorer will he be? His release point on threes is a little low. It helps that he’s tall as crap, but NBA close-outs — and the length and speed of the defenders closing out — are a different beast. His release will need to be altered slightly — in speed or in terms of the release point — to fully optimize him as a pick-and-pop threat.

For a guy that’s as nimble as Bol is with the ball, virtually none of that translates defensively. On top of being pretty weak, he moves poorly. Very poorly. There’s no hope of him defending in space right now. Simple ball moves get him out of position, and poor hips make it nearly impossible for him to recover. Zone may be the only way to hide him. That makes him a bit of a fit in Miami, but it puts his overall impact into question.

Aside from the (super)stars, bigs are mostly defined by their defense in today’s NBA. If Bol can’t close out games for you because of the defensive end, he has to be outlier good offensively to compensate. Bol has outlier traits, but I don’t think he’s outlier good. And that’s before getting into a frame that will likely be tough to build up, and a history of lower body injuries.

I love Bol. I love the idea of Bol. In fact, he’s a three-time Finals MVP in my online league on 2K19. If there’s anybody rooting for him to succeed, it’s me. I just have serious doubts about the likelihood of that happening. If the Heat are going to make an upside play, Kevin Porter Jr. or Sekou Doumbaya probably makes more sense. -Nekias


Tier 2

Bruno Fernando, Maryland, Sophomore, Forward, 6’10” 237 lbs

Stats: 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.9 blocks, 61/30/78 shooting split

Bruno Fernando may be the Heat’s favorite big man in this entire draft.

Fernando projects as an NBA center, which could become a position of transformation and need depending on a variety of factors. He’s a rim runner who finishes at a high clip. He has no issue banging down low and scrapping for rebounds. His body is NBA ready; his motor may force coaches to find a role for him immediately. The fact that he’s a 70-plus percent free throw shooter provides hope he can become a shooting threat at some stage of his career.

Fernando’s overall impact and offensive ceiling remain questionable because of stiff hips maneuvering in the post and foul issues. He can also be occasionally turnover prone and would really need a star player that could draw attention and find him for lobs. If the Heat and Hassan Whiteside decide to go their separate ways and want to try Adebayo at the big forward spot, Fernando becomes more viable. -Leif

Nic Claxton, Georgia, Sophomore, Center, 6’11 220

Stats: 13.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 46/28/64 shooting split

At least one of two things would have to happen to make this a viable selection, and it’d probably take both. The Heat would need to slide back in the draft, and Bam Adebayo would need to be part of a star trade. If you want to keep scrolling past this section, I don’t blame you. The latter is mostly a function of an awkward offensive fit.

The intrigue of Claxton is his switchablity. He might be the best lateral mover among non-Zion, non-Clarke bigs in this year’s class. He has great feet, good instincts, and attacks shots at their apex. Offensively, he’s a solid finisher with budding on-ball skills worth exploring in doses. He’s flashed a jumper, though it still needs some work extending it past 18 or so feet. He averaged 2.0 attempts from three in his last season at Georgia, so he at least seems to want to take them.

Again, this is very much a trade-back target, but he fits the mold of what the Heat would want from a big man. High motor, good on the glass, switchable defensively. There’s a lot to like here. -Nekias

Tier 3

Naz Reid, LSU, Freshman, Center, 6’10 250

Stats: 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks, 47/33/73 shooting split

One of Miami’s bigger longterm questions is whether Bam Adebayo can hold his own at the center position. Many believe he’s better suited at the 4 spot. His jump shot (or lack thereof) would require Miami to find a stretch big to pair with him so as not to lose any offensive potency. Naz Reid may be your answer.

He’s got good size, a promising jumper, and solid playmaking potential. Putting him alongside Bam would give you two versatile bigs who can put the ball on the floor and threaten defenses with their mobility. If Naz can turn into a reliable shooter, and Bam can improve his range a bit (I think he can) they’d be an intriguing offensive pairing. I’m also a sucker for the scoring sixth man bigs à la Enes Kanter, so Naz attracts me in a lot of ways.

Defense would be the question with this duo. I’m unsure whether Naz gives you the rim protection or strength to grant you a formidable inside presence. He’s not the most agile big and he’s not a tower like Whiteside or Gobert. He doesn’t exactly solve the supposed problems presented by Bam’s size.

Offensively, it’s a fun pick. Naz, Bam, and Justise on the floor together would allow Spoelstra to be really creative. Defensively, it could be an issue. You either trust Bam to be able to protect the rim or you don’t. If you don’t, Naz isn’t your guy. -Jack

Tacko Fall, Central Florida, Senior, Center, 7’7” 289 lbs

Stats: 11.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.2 steals, 2.6 blocks, 75/0/36 shooting split

More like Facko Tall. Ha! Spoonerisms! Gotta love em.

This dude is tall. Super tall. Maybe too tall. I know most NBA players are tall. Even the short ones are tall. But Fall…. I mean this guy. That man is tall. Tacko measured at 7-foot-7 in shoes with an 8-foot-2¼ wingspan and a 10-foot-2½ standing reach. That’s pretty big. Historically big. An absolute unit. It’s hard to say much else beyond that.

He’s obviously a good shot blocker, reliable rebounder, a solid inside scorer, an imposing presence in the paint. He also shot under 40% from the free throw line at UCF. His success from distance has actually diminished from year to year so it’s hard to be optimistic about his improvement in that regard. For what it’s worth, he did have a strong showing at this year’s combine and impacted the game on both ends of the floor. The loss of weight (listed at 310 on SportsReference, weighed in at 289 at the combine) helped his mobility. His ability to defend in space will be the swing-skill for him.

Being able to throw the ball up to a guy who’s half a foot taller than the tallest player on the opposing team is quite an asset. He’s Boban-esque in that regard. But if he’s not an absolutely dominant inside presence, he’s unplayable. With the Heat, there is always the Bam question. Do they need to pair him with a true center? Tacko is nothing if not a true center.

Unless Bam develops his jumpshot quick, the Tacko/Bam pairing simply won’t work on offense. Tacko Fall is likely a second round pick. He’s as sexy a second round pick as you can get. -Jack


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