4. Nassir Little
Miami has found success on the defensive side of the ball in recent years. If they wish to add to that strength, they should look at North Carolina forward Nassir Little. In his lone season as a Tar Heel, Little averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game on 47.8 percent shooting from the field.
Don’t get too distraught by his numbers, as they came in just 18 minutes per game. He played behind seniors Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson (a projected first round pick in this year’s draft). A primary reason why is because Little is still a raw talent. As Bleacher Report‘s Mirin Fader reported, Little got a late start playing basketball:
"“He didn’t start playing basketball competitively until around age 12, until he taught himself the game watching YouTube highlights, mainly Kevin Durant‘s. Little was so mesmerized by Durant, he did a little shoulder shimmy before his free throws too.”"
Despite his draft stock falling as the season went on, Little can still be a quality NBA player one day. He stands 6’6″ with a 7’1″ wingspan, which is a great frame to work with. He shoots 77.8 percent at the free throw line, which suggests his shooting is somewhat fixable. His frame allows him to be played at various positions, and Spoelstra has been a big practicer of position-less basketball. His ability to finish at the rim makes him dangerous on the fast break.
Little’s main calling card is his defense. His frame, strength and quickness make him very versatile. He is the perfect switchable defender, as he could one day be able to switch onto every position without fear of getting blown by or powered through. As switchability on defense becomes more of a necessity, Little will already have that skill entering the league. He also has the motor to be a good rebounder, hinting that he could be a solid modern power forward.
The main problem with selecting Little is that it likely won’t fix Miami’s weakness: offense. Drafting little suggests Richardson is capable of being a primary scorer, or that he and Winslow can be the two features of the offense for the foreseeable future. Although both of them improved last year, it’s very hard to say they can be the primary offensive players moving forward. The offense looked okay when Winslow was in command, albeit for a rather small sample size.
Little has the physical tools to become a solid scorer but didn’t show skills frequently enough in his lone college season. He was an inept shot creator and ball-handler. It would be surprising for him to be the main focus on offense. He also shouldn’t be expected to be a reliable playmaker. Although he wasn’t a ball hog, he did a poor job of finding open teammates.
In Miami, he would be used similarly to Derrick Jones Jr., as they would be used mostly as rollers in the pick-and-roll, which capitalizes on their athleticism and hides their inability to create shots for themselves.
Going with Little would suggest they’d try to repair the offense with the pieces they already have. His defense could be NBA-ready out of the gate, but his offense may never be close to as good. That’s the primary concern with Miami, a poor offensive team, drafting him.