Miami Heat: 5 Best/Worst Draft Picks in Team History


In recent years, the Miami Heat have become one of the most notable and successful franchises in NBA history. They began play in 1988 and raised their first championship banner in 2006. In 2012, the Heat won yet another championship and look primed to possibility net a third title in 2013.

The times haven’t always been so easy for the Heat, however, as they spent several years trying to become relevant in the NBA. During those times, and even today, they have gone through the ups and downs of good and bad draft picks. The franchise has hit some home runs in the draft, but has also delivered quite a few duds.

Here’s a look at the five best and worst draft picks in Heat history:

Best Picks:

5. Steve Smith: After struggling for the first few years of the franchise, the Heat had yet another top-10 pick in the 1991 draft. With the fifth overall pick, Miami selected Smith, a guard who immediately made an impact for the Heat. In his first season with the Heat, he helped improve the team’s win total from 24 to 38 and guided Miami to its first playoff berth in team history. He spent only three seasons in Miami before being dealt to the Atlanta Hawks, but his presence was felt as he helped propel the franchise to its first franchise success.

4. Caron Butler: In a crucial 2002 draft, the year before the Heat selected guard Dwyane Wade, the team struck big on an all-around contributor in Butler. He was selected 10th overall and went on to have a successful Heat career for two reasons. First, he spent two years in Miami, averaging 15.4 points per game in his rookie season and finishing with a 3-point percentage of 41.6. After two years, he was the focal point of a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers that netted a return of Shaquille O’Neal for the Heat. Without O’Neal, the Heat may not have won the title in 2006.

3. Rony Seikaly: This pick holds more value simply because Seikaly was the first pick in Heat history, selected ninth overall in the 1988 NBA draft. The 6’11” center handled the duties of being the first true franchise player in team history with ease. In six seasons with the franchise, Seikaly averaged double-digit points per game in every season and averaged more than 11 rebounds per game in three consecutive seasons.

2. Glen Rice: While Seikaly was the first face of the franchise for the Heat, Rice was the first true star in Miami. Selected fourth overall in the 1989 draft, Rice immediately made an impact in Miami alongside Seikaly. In his rookie season, he averaged 13.6 points per game. He went on to have a successful six-year stint in Miami. In the 1991-92 season, Rice became the first Heat player to average more than 20 points per game in a season, finishing with an average of 22.3 points per game. He never played in less than 77 games in a season in Miami and was a model of consistency for a developing Heat franchise.

Wade quickly became the face of the Miami Heat. (Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule)

1. Dwyane Wade: Each pro sports franchise has a bona fide face of the franchise and for the Heat, that player is Wade. Since being selected by the Heat in the first round in 2003, the same draft that provided stars such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, he’s taken South Beach by storm. He helped lead the Heat to an NBA title in 2006 and with the help of James in 2012, led the Heat to another title. He was the MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals and has been selected to the All Star Game nine times so far.

Worst Picks:

5. Willie BurtonWith the ninth overall pick in the 1990 draft, the Heat selected Burton, starting a trend of several failed picks in the top half of the first round for Miami. With the team being in just its third year in the NBA, Burton needed to make an impact as a versatile forward/guard from day one. However, he failed to do so, spending four seasons in Miami and only spending one season as a regular starter. He started 50 games in the 1991-92 season, but started a total of 35 games in his other three seasons. He failed to ever become the impact player he needed to be to help catapult the franchise to success playing alongside Seikaly and Rice.

4. Khalid Reeves: The Heat used the 12th overall pick in the 1994 draft on Reeves, but his career in Miami failed to even live up to first-round expectations. He spent just one season in Miami, averaging 9.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. He started just 17 games as point guard for the Heat before moving on to Charlotte after his rookie year. He failed to ever make an impact in a Heat uniform.

Beasley never lived up to expectations in Miami. (Photo Credit:

3. Michael Beasley: When the Heat used the second overall pick in the 2008 draft on Beasley, it appeared as if he was primed to be a  perennial All-Star alongside Dwyane Wade. However, that was simply not the case. While he was fairly productive in Miami, averaging 13.9 points per game as a rookie, he spent only two season in South Beach before being dealt to Minnesota. With other options in the 2008 draft such as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, the Heat could have made a much better choice that would have resulted in a dominant one-two punch in Miami for several years before the LeBron James and Chris Bosh era began.

2. Harold Miner: Taken 12th overall in 1992, Miner never lived up to lofty expectations. He was praised for his unparalleled athleticism, but his dunking ability proved to be better than his playing ability. He played just three seasons in Miami and never became an inherent threat offensively or defensively and was nothing more than a role player. He did win the Slam Dunk Contest two times, but that’s an afterthought compared to his mediocre play during games.

1. Tim James: The NBA draft doesn’t always provide much depth and talent after the lottery, but the 25th overall pick in the 1999 draft still comes out on top as the worst pick in Heat history. James spent one season in Miami, playing in just four games and scoring 11 points. He then went on to play for Chicago and Philadelphia before retiring after a short-lived, three-year career. In terms of the use of a first-round pick by the Heat, the James selection can be categorized as a complete waste.