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Friday, June 25, 2010

Miami Aces Draft and Gets Bang For the Buck

When the season was drawing to a close I was among the group of people who preferred Toronto missing the playoffs in order to get a second rounder in addition to a future first rounder. A first rounder this year might have helped get rid of James Jones's salary, but my thinking was that in order to add young talent to the roster this year, the top of the second round was the place to be.

The day before the draft Miami traded DaeQuan Cook for the second pick of the second round. This got me even more excited about the draft, because this meant we were going to get some of the best talent that did not require a guaranteed contract and would thereby not count against the cap when the free agent period commenced.

I must admit that it was not all rosy for me as I was intrigued by the long term potential of Hassan Whiteside and Solomon Alabi and am not typically a fan of signing players with weight problems. So, of course, I was a bit disappointed with the selection of Texas center Dexter Pittman over the aforementioned centers. However, I do believe "Sexy Dexy" is more NBA ready and could make an impact on day one and solidify the post rotation. His physical play matches up with well with Boston and fills a need in a league severely lacks true bigs. The Heat wanted a back to the basket banger and after having already lost 100 lbs, they may have landed the best one. The reason I am sold on this pick is that he seems up for the challenge of playing for an organization that will place an emphasis on getting him into the best basketball shape possible.

Our second pick was PF Jarvis Varnado out of Mississippi State, who I had Miami picking with the 48th pick in my mock. I have a feeling Alonzo will get a tear in his eye when he watches this guy play. A center in college who projects as a power forward, Varnado makes Joel Anthony seem redundant. I do expect Miami to hold onto Joel's rights as long as possible and maybe even bring him back for the minimum if that discussion has already taken place, but Miami will not miss a beat in the shotblocking department thanks to this pick. ESPN analyst Skip Bayless had this to say about the player on Twitter "I could be wrong, but from what I saw on TV, JVarnado will be little better NBA player than Favors. Aminu. And Pat Riley stole him at 41?!".

Speaking of Bayless, here's what he said about the next pick "Heat also got DButler at 42 while clearing enough cap space to sign THREE max players. LeBron should go to Miami if wants to win title". In Da'Sean Butler the Heat gets the guy USA Today calls "the steal of the draft":

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2010/06/did-pat-riley-and-heat-get-the-steal-of-the-draft-in-desean-butler/1

I likened the drafting of Da'Sean to the Bills drafting of Willis McGahee years ago and many agree that this player has what it takes to come back from his torn ACL and make Miami very proud for years to come. In looking at this video that JRod shared during the blog's draft party, I see a swingman that has a very good head on his shoulders and knows how to get to the right part of the floor to take the shot he wants. Take a look at how many game hitters he made, I don't think these plays happen by coincidence. We have a player that does not shy away from the big moment and that could be key to the team's long term success:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHBeilhy1BI

I believe Pat Riley is very happy with the results of his draft, saying "We feel like, contrary to what other people might think, we did draft three first-round picks in the second round". While I am going to disagree with Riley on principle, my analysis of the draft a month ago was that there was not much separating picks 15-45. Riley chose to make three picks in the 30-45 range and was rewarded with first round type of talent. It may sound like spin, but it was my sincere evaluation of the talent that was available this year... you may see just as many solid players come out of the top of the second round as you see in the bottom half of the first.

I encourage you guys to get excited and watch the return of our summer league team in two weeks. The summer league package is available at NBA.com for an Early Bird price of $11 and I will be certain to be watching it online if I am unable to make the trip to Las Vegas myself. The most exciting off-season in Heat history is upon us and stage 1 seems to have been a glowing success. In closing, I will leave you with more analysis of our draft by USAToday:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/nba/2010-06-24-1903069196_x.htm

3 comments:

  1. These guys seem like safe picks. It's not like Pittman is above 350 anymore. His ideal playing weight is probably some where between 275-290 lbs. He actually looks pretty good.

    The draft is a solid B, but the bonus is that the roster is not completely bare, but the cap does not take a hit. Now, if they could only trade James Jones...

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  2. You're happy about the picks, but you had Pittman and Varnado as late second rounders and Butler going undrafted in your mock. Not trying to be negative, just noticed that :)=

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  3. Yeah, I noticed that. For as much draft research as I did before hand I missed most of the NCAA tournament and with that I totally missed out on Butler, who dropped off of the radar due to a serious knee injury that kept him from working out for teams.

    However, I side with Riley in believing that on the court production tells you more than enough about a player, especially when you are using a second round pick on somebody that was believed to be a possible lottery pick prior to the injury, which he should fully recover from.

    As far as Pittman, I don't think I had him sliding due to a lack of game. I, however, was under the (wrong) impression that this would be a player that would struggle with his weight for his entire career and probably flame out of the league in under five years. After Riley reached for him, I dug a little deeper and saw a young man that has taken control of his weight problem and seems motivated to succeed in this league, following the footsteps of a Glen Davis. I don't use UD as an example, because I think he may have lost too much bulk and his game completely changed from the one he played in college.

    Jarvis was a guy I knew we liked, but I was surprised that we liked him above Whiteside and Alabi, both of whom I had at the top of my board for the first round pick that was traded away with Cook. Varnado might be able to play both positions like Joel Anthony and seems to have more offensive potential.

    I think you have to be happy with this draft as a Heat fan... the only knock is not being able to unload James Jones while Chicago was able to move Kirk Hinrich in exchange for the #17 pick... that stings more than a little, especially considering the fact that picking up DaeQuan's option was seemingly a hindrance to our ability to get that done.

    I will be pretty disappointed to see James Jones' name on the payroll for the 2010-2012 seasons... which is why I would rather keep him on the roster until we can find a way to package him in a larger deal. His nearly $5 million in salary will help match contracts... the only downside is that he has a 15% trade kicker.

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