Miami Heat: A look back at NBA Draft history before 2019

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Before the 2019 NBA Draft, it’s time to take a look back at the Miami Heat’s draft history, one littered with both hits and misses.

After a failed run at the postseason in the 2018-19 season, the Miami Heat received the 13th pick in the 2019 draft. Although this draft class isn’t as deep as last years, Miami could still draft a promising player. Before they make that selection, let’s take a journey through the Heat’s draft history.

We begin in the year 1988, the first draft in the franchise’s history. The Heat and Charlotte Hornets were both expansion teams that summer and were slotted to draft after the seven teams participating in the draft lottery. A coin toss that fell in the Hornets’ favor resulted in the Heat picking 9th that June.

They used that pick on Rony Seikaly, a 6-11 center from Syracuse. He was productive in his first six seasons in Miami, averaging 15.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. He also won the Most Improved Player award his second year as his stats improved across the board.

Still, it wasn’t a perfect marriage. Seikaly got along with head coach Kevin Loughery as well as a speeding car did with a brick wall. The rift caused Seikaly to demand a trade from Miami, which he eventually got when he was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Billy Owens and Sasha Danilovic in November of 1994.

Miami also added DePaul shooting guard Kevin Edwards with pick #20 and Eastern Michigan power forward Grant Long with pick #33 in 1988. Edwards received All-Rookie Second Team honors and played five solid seasons in Miami before leaving in free agency, while Long was a decent player that was traded after six and a half seasons on the Heat. He was part of a package that was sent to the Atlanta Hawks for All-Star forward Kevin Willis and a future first-round pick.

The next year, the Heat drafted Michigan small forward Glen Rice, who would average over 20 points in three of his six seasons in Miami. Rice would also set the franchise’s single-game scoring record when he lit up the Orlando Magic for 56 points in 1995. The record ended up standing for almost two decades. Rice, along with other assets would be traded after the 1994-95 season in a package centered around 24-year-old All-Star center Alonzo Mourning.

After failing to find a valuable player in the 1990 draft, the Heat drafted Michigan State shooting guard Steve Smith with the fifth pick in 1991. Smith, a member of the All-Rookie first team and eventual All-Star, was traded with Grant Long in the trade for Kevin Willis and a draft pick. Willis was traded at the next season’s trading deadline for All-Star point guard Tim Hardaway, while the draft pick was traded for New York Knicks‘ head coach Pat Riley.

From 1992-2001, Miami made very little of the draft picks they had. In the 1992 draft, they took Harold Miner 12th overall instead of Doug Christie. Both were shooting guards. Miner would win the dunk contest twice, including his rookie year, before being out of the league after four years. Christie would be named to four All-Defensive teams in his 15-year career. The next draft would see them select journeyman Khalid Reeves one spot ahead of near All-Star Jalen Rose.

In 1994, with the last lottery pick they would have until 2002, they drafted Kurt Thomas 10th overall. Two years later, he and two other players were traded for Jamal Mashburn, a solid scoring wing. The addition of Mashburn moved the needle for the Heat from playoff team to conference contenders, as they secured a top-three seed in five straight years.

With Mourning, Hardaway, Mashburn, and Riley, the Heat had a nucleus of two players who were among the best at their respective positions, a solid third scorer on the wing, and a championship-winning coach. They made the playoffs for six straight seasons but lost in the first round four times (including once to the 8th seeded Knicks) and the furthest they made it was the conference finals.

Miami’s good records year after year made their draft picks further down. Still, they could have done a better job finding complimentary pieces to their core. The only draft pick from 1997-2001 that would play over 250 NBA games was Eddie House, who only played three seasons with the Heat. He was drafted 37th overall. Miami had two first-round picks and five other second-round picks.

The Heat’s first impactful pick since Steve Smith came in 2002 when they drafted Connecticut wing Caron Butler 10th overall. Butler would be named to the All-Rookie First Team, but then struggled the next year. As per Miami Heat tradition, they traded their promising young scorer for an All-Star big man. This time, the return for Butler and other assets was Shaquille O’Neal, who would end up making some serious noise with Miami’s 2003 first round pick.

With the fifth overall pick that year, the Heat selected a shooting guard from Marquette by the name of Dwyane Wade. He would be named to the All-Rookie First team and lead the team in scoring in the playoffs. The next year he was named to the All-NBA second team and helped the team win 17 more games. The next year, he led the Heat to their first championship. Wade’s absurd averages of 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 rebounds made him the Finals MVP.

Miami wasn’t able to find anyone good in the draft in the three years after drafting Wade but found themselves in prime position to do so after a disastrous 2007-08 campaign. Wade played only 51 games and the team won just 15, affording them the best odds in the draft lottery. Unfortunately, the Heat ended up with the second overall pick.

In to save the day came Kansas State forward Michael Beasley, who would go on to play for seven teams in 11 seasons in the league. The Heat chose him ahead of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love, both multiple time All-Stars. Beasley was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for cash and two-second rounders after his second year but found his way back to Miami four seasons later as a free agent.

A year later was the first draft for former Heat head coach and current Heat president Pat Riley. He selected sharpshooter Marcus Thornton 43rd overall but quickly traded him for two-second rounders. The next draft saw Miami hold no first rounders, but four second-rounders; picks 32, 41, 42, and 48. The players picked and their count of NBA games played is as follows: Dexter Pittman with 50, Jarvis Varnado with 37, Da’Sean Butler with 0, and Latavius Williams with 0.

Although the Heat struck out in the draft, they hit a grand slam in free agency when they acquired stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The Heat wouldn’t do anything significant in the next four drafts, as they used their picks to add support pieces around the Big 3. They traded picks as far into 2019.

They started drafting with the intention of keeping players again in 2015, using picks 10 and 40 on forwards Justise Winslow from Duke and Josh Richardson from Tennesee, respectively. Both have panned out rather well so far in their short careers and are signed through the next two years at least. Their next pick came in 2017 when they took Bam Adebayo, a center from Kentucky, 14th overall who has shown some promise in his first two years.

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The Heat have experienced both great success and laughable failure in the draft over the course of their history. The journey is not over; it merely takes us to the 2019 draft. With the 13th overall pick, Miami could add a talented prospect that could help the team for years to come. Hopefully, this journey includes a stop at a championship.