Heat The 25th pick in the draft belongs to Rob Clough and the Miami Heat.  Rob is another of my GM's who has been doing this since the first draft.  Rob also writes a top notch report.  The Heat select:

Dion Glover, SG, 6'5", Georgia Tech

I. Team Needs/History

In my Heat analysis last year, the first thing I wrote was "This was a season full of promise for the Heat that went sour." This statement unfortunately held true for the 1999 version of the Heat as well. Ironically, the season began in disastrous fashion with serious injuries to two of the team's most important offensive players, Voshon Lenard and Jamal Mashburn. Even before then, most pundits figured that the revamped Knicks would beat out the Heat for the Atlantic crown. Teams like Boston, Washington, and New Jersey were mentioned as squads that might finish ahead of the Heat. The Heat were never a sexy team, and some thought that Mourning was too much of a flake to lead his team deep into the playoffs.

Instead, Mourning kept his composure the entire season and led a dominant defense that held opponents to 41% shooting and 84 ppg. Aged free agent pickups Terry Porter and Clarence Weatherspoon played crucial roles in keeping the team together with all of the injuries. And when Lenard and Mashburn finally made it back, they helped the Heat clinch not only their third straight Atlantic crown, but home court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs. Things looked good for the Heat to make it to the finals for the first time. But then they got perhaps the worst possible first round opponent: their arch-rivals, the Knicks. The Knicks are one of the few teams not intimidated by Miami's defense, and as has been made clear by their improbable playoff run, New York was a team that had just found their rhythm. It took a buzzer-beater by Allen Houston to defeat the Heat in five, but hindsight says that if Tim Hardaway had had even an average playoff series, the Heat would have won it in four. Instead, Hardaway shot an abysmal 26% and scored 8 points under his average. On the other hand, Mourning was near- heroic in keeping the Heat alive, scoring a little above his average under heavy pressure.

Hardaway had a good season overall, but his overall numbers were down and he never quite recovered from a leg injury suffered midway through the season. Furthermore, there were internal problems. Riley wanted him to lose some weight and threatened fines if he didn't follow through. Hardaway responded by complaining to the player's association, and eventually won. Still, there was no question that there was some tension. After the season, Hardaway pretty much blamed himself for the Heat's loss to the Knicks and vowed to not only play better next year, but to fall in line with Riley. He did speak of a lack of team comaraderie that might be a concern. I think one reason why Riley prefers veterans is that older players can handle getting fewer shots if it means that the team will win, as opposed to soothing the egos of younger players. It's also why Riley likes using players thought of as being washed up, because he knows they're desperate to produce and he's willing to give them playing time.

Riley recently talked about the team's current psyche and the lack of camaraderie that Hardaway noted. He blamed some of it on himself, saying that he was too hard on the team at times. He realized that if he kept picking at his players, they might reach a point where they think that nothing they do will ever be good enough for him, and just quit. Riley has talked a lot about healing, but just how he intends to go about doing that is still a mystery.

Which brings us to this draft. The Heat have the #25 pick, but Riley has already said that he may have very little use for it. He is skeptical that the Heat can find anyone of use at that position, and it's hard to disagree with him. Furthermore, the Heat are trying to put together a deal to get a top-20 pick so that they can send it to Utah. They owe the Jazz a top-20 pick this year (to complete the Martin Muursepp trade), or else the Jazz will get the Heat's top pick next year, no matter what it is. The deadline for that deal has passed, but the Jazz have indicated that they're still open to renegotiation or changing the deal. As it stands, they will get next year's pick from the Heat.

The draft won't be the place to watch the Heat in the offseason. Look for them to make some trades and sign a couple of free agents, in an attempt to get the off guard they so desperately need. In general, the Heat will remain pretty much the same. Riley pretty much still believes in this group, but he has mentioned that he wants a greater offseason commitment. This means that he will expect the team to work out together this summer. We'll see how that goes.

Team Roster/Contract Status:

Player # Years Pos Signed Through Notable Stats/Accomplishments
Alonzo Mourning 7 C 2003 Defensive POY; 1st team All-NBA; 20.1 ppg, 11 rpg, 3.9 bpg, 51% FG
Duane Causwell 9 C 2002 2.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
PJ Brown 6 PF 2003 11.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Mark Strickland 4 PF 2001 3.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg
Clarence W'rspoon 7 PF 2001 8.1 ppg, 5 rpg
Marty Conlon 8 PF FA 1.1 ppg, 7 games
Jamal Mashburn 6 SF 2001 14.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 43% 3FG, 29 games
Dan Majerle 11 G/F FA 7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, 33% 3FG
Keith Askins 9 G/F FA 1.6 ppg, 33 games
Voshon Lenard 4 SG 2002 6.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 34% 3FG, 17 games
Rex Walters 6 SG FA 3.1 ppg, 1.8 apg
Tim Hardaway 10 PG 2000 17.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 7.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 36% 3FG, 3rd team All-NBA
Terry Porter 14 PG 2000 10.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 41% 3FG

Draft History:

The only thing you need to know is that the only first rounders Riley has drafted are Charles "Spider" Smith and Martin Muursepp. 'Nuff said. Riley hates rookies and has never had a high enough draft slot to do anything interesting with a pick. Riley prefers seasoned vets and building through free agency and CBA projects. Pre-Riley, the last big first round pick of the Heat was Kurt Thomas, whom Riley traded pretty quickly.

II. Player Overview:


Overall: Mourning really proved himself as an elite player this year, after he left so many questions unanswered in '98. But since the team lost Ike Austin to a dumb trade, the Heat have had nothing in reserve. PJ Brown is a solid player, but he's not big enough to deal with that much time in the post. The Heat could use a big man with a particular skill, be it shooting, shot-blocking, or rebounding.

It's hard to overstate just how great a season Alonzo Mourning had. He was truly persona non grata after his meltdown in the '98 playoffs, but he redoubled his efforts and it showed. While his offensive improvement was obvious and dramatic, what was truly remarkable is how much better a defender he became--and he was a great one to begin with. He learned true team defense, having his teammates funnel players into him, where he would block shots and recover them in the tradition of Bill Russell. He carried the team through injury and underachievement by certain players. He learned how to ignore the taunts of others that previously would have had him retaliating physically. There were many in the league who thought he was MVP and I am certainly one of them, which is miraculous when you look at my past evaluations of Zo. Hopefully, he will carry this new person with him for the rest of his career. He's only started to reach his peak, and if he continues to work on his already-improving jumper, he could be Pat Ewing with good knees and a better work ethic.

Duane Causwell wasn't really used much this year, partially because of Mourning's dominance. But the truth is that he's rarely been much more than a big body. He's signed through 2002 but the Heat would gladly move him if necessary. Most likely, he will stay on as insurance and a bench presence that won't complain.


Overall: The Heat are in pretty good shape here, with the solid PJ Brown and capable Weatherspoon as his backup. They also have the young legs of Mark Strickland, although he still has yet to receive much playing time. The one thing this platoon doesn't provide is big-time scoring, but that has become less of a need with the blossoming of Mourning's all-around game.

PJ Brown can be described with your pick of cliches: lunch-bucket, blue- collar, workhorse, unsung hero. And they're all apt descriptions. He knows what's expected of him and he does it, every night. Every now and then, especially when Mourning is double-teamed, he even steps up his scoring a bit, but his points are mostly a luxury. He's there to play D, rebound, and not complain, and he does all three.

Clarence Weatherspoon was a nice off-season pickup, adding some depth and experience to the frontline. He fit in well, because he's always been a player who thrived on his toughness and effort. He never did much offensively, but he played solid D and hit the boards hard. Always a bit of a tweener, he's learned how to survive in the post.

Strickland is big and quick and capable of some explosive moves. But Riley generally prefers to play his tougher veterans. A good project player who fills out the roster and may yet develop into a real contributor. The less said about Marty Conlon, the better. He is skilled at holding down the bench and being the last man in, but little else at this stage of his career.

The Heat also had Terry Mills and Blue Edwards for portions of the season, but both were released. Mills in particular was a free-agent bust; he was really hurt by the three-point line being moved out further again.


Overall: It's tough to evaluate. This was the first year that Jamal Mashburn really showed his potential for the Heat, as he was the team's leading scorer before he went down early in the season with an injury. Mash has long had star potential, and he may yet prove himself. Dan Majerle was healthy most of the year, and actually went back to his old slashing ways, but his days in the league are growing shorter and shorter. The Heat could use some more youth and depth at the wing, and this will be a consideration when I pick.

Jamal Mashburn had some major offensive outbursts, and he may yet become the third superstar the Heat have needed desperately. He's at his peak age and has become accustomed to Riley's hardass ways. He must stay healthy and productive; his target should be at least 17 ppg, with 20 ppg not unrealistic. Anything else will not be acceptable. Riley does consider him to be one of the team's core players (along with Mourning, Hardaway, and Brown), so expect him to be around for awhile unless the Heat can get a major upgrade.

Majerle continues to soldier on despite injuries and age, and he's still effective. He went to the hoop much more often this year, and also hit his share of outside shots. But he's streaky to say the least, and when he's cold he really can hurt the team. Unless the Heat can unearth a great shooter who is also athletic, Majerle might be the best they can do for a top wing sub.

Askins is the grand old man of the team, Mr Heat. He's been with the Heat his entire career, and as long as he keeps proving himself during the summers, he will stay around. A solid practice player who can provide a defensive lift, plus he can hit a shot every once in a while.


Overall: The team's biggest weakness by far. Lenard is just OK and there are no real backups here.

Lenard had been an iron man throughout most of his career, but he had a serious injury this year that kept him out of most of the first 38 games. The Heat were forced to use Majerle at the position more extensively, as well as play Porter there. Once Lenard came back and readjusted, he started to play well, and was one of the better performers in the playoffs. His strengths and weaknesses are obvious: he's a pure shooter who prefers to spot up rather than drive, but is somewhat undersized. He's perfectly competent but the Heat have needed an upgrade for quite some time. As I've said before, Vo would make a perfect backup.

Rex Walters was forced into some back-up duty for 15 minutes a game this year, which was about 10 more minutes than Riley would have preferred. He played in 33 games, or the bulk of time Lenard was out. Most of his shots were threes, and not very many of them went in. I doubt that he'll be around next year unless it's absolutely necessary.

Porter and Majerle both spent time here and did reasonably well. Porter has always been an offensive force and hit 41% of his threes.


Overall: On first glance, the team's strongest overall position. But there are potential problems lurking here, with some questions regarding Hardaway's health and relationship with Riley, and some doubts as to whether or not Porter will come back.

Tim Hardaway is still one of the top point guards in the NBA, but this was clearly not his best season. He was still distributing the ball at an All-Star level, but his shooting percentage fell to a miserable 36% from three point range. He was never quite the same after an injury even though he didn't miss much time, but the real problem was some indefinable loss of confidence. Part of that may have his problems with Riley over his weight, and part may have been his sense that the team wasn't that close. Regardless, he was still the leader of the team and it was partly his responsibility to fix such matters. From all he's said in the postseason, it looks like he's owning up to his mistakes. We'll see how this translates next season. Beyond any mental errors, he must stay in good shape, because at his age (32) and with his history of injuries, he has little margin for error.

Terry Porter was a revelation. At 36, he may have lost some of his quickness, but none of his scoring ability. As the primary PG backup and part-time SG backup, he had all the minutes he could handle and he really made something of them. As a seasoned veteran, he wasn't afraid to take big shots down the stretch, and he made his share of them. He was the kind of vet that Riley loves working with and trusts to make big plays. Rumor now has it that he will opt out of his final year since he played so well; if I were Riley, I'd renegotiate right away to retain this ageless wonder.


As a GM, Riley had a pretty good year. He picked up Porter and Spoon for a song and they played big roles. Even Blue Edwards did OK on his stint with the Heat. The sting of the Brent Barry fiasco was eased with the way these guys played.

As a coach, the results were somewhat more mixed. It was a remarkable achievement for the Heat to win the Atlantic once again, considering their many injury woes. Riley held the lineup together with paperclips and glue, and it somehow worked. But it became very clear that the Heat just freeze up in the playoffs. It's not just that their offense went south, it's that they got shredded defensively by a team that had looked inept all season. The Heat looked tentative and confused on defense. This all boils down to a lack of confidence. Is Riley too harsh on his players? Did he beat them down too much when they needed to be pumped up? It would seem that this may be the case. Riley is well-known as a dictatorial type who squeezes the maximum effort out of his players. But it may be that he squeezed too hard, and at the wrong time. His players looked like they had nothing left emotionally once the playoffs hit.

Riley was the first coach to turn the Heat into a consistent winner that went to the playoffs every year. He must now consider what he must do to make them a consistent winner in the playoffs.

III. Draft Needs:

The Heat still have glaring needs at off guard. They need scorers of any kind, though. They are set at center and point guard, although they could use a solid backup C as Causwell has rarely done much. Mashburn is adequate at SF but if they don't resign Majerle, they will need a decent sub. Lenard is only adequate at best; the Heat have long needed a superstar upgrade at this position. Again, with the 25th pick, they are unlikely to find this. There is talk that Terry Porter might jump ship, seeking a more lucrative contract after his solid year; it's the player's option on his contract. If so, then taking a young PG might not be such a bad idea, especially in a draft where good points are plentiful.

What this all boils down to is: Take a really good wing man or guard, and if none are around, take the best player available.

IV. My Selection:

Dion Glover, Georgia Tech.

A very risky pick, but one with high reward potential considering it's only a #25 pick, not a lottery selection. A very strong player who can muscle his way to the basket who is also very quick. Not a great outside shooter but the potential is there. The big hangups are his knee injury (though doctors have cleared him to play) and the potential that he might pull out of the draft (though all indications are that he'll stay in). Even if he does return, the Heat would hold his rights, and since Miami isn't in any dire need of a rookie contributor, waiting on him for a year is no big deal. Might be a lottery pick next year. He's the anti-Langdon: high risk, high reward. He's a good ballhandler and can definitely create his own shot; it's hitting it that's a mystery. The best thing about him is that he brings qualities the Heat lack, like athleticism, the ability to penetrate, the ability to create his own shot, etc. His young age and maturity level are definite question marks, particularly with the way he's been vascillating on his draft status. I'm not sure Riley would pick him but I couldn't pass him up. The key word here is potential; it's important that he react well to a coach like Riley, someone who is as different from Bobby Cremins as I can imagine. I figure I'll either wind up with a + rating in the post-draft evaluation or I'll be minus infinity!

V. Others Considered:

Trajan Langdon, Duke. Initially fell out of the first round because of his slowness, history of a knee injury, and average defense, his stock has picked up a bit with some good workouts. If nothing else, he can help in a way the NBA desperately needs: shooting. Langdon is a great shooter with excellent range, though he works best coming off picks, rather than creating his own shots. Still, he'd be a nice fit for any number of highly structured systems, and Miami's slow, grind- it-out style would suit him perfectly. He's a lot like Lenard, though, in that he's slow and a good shooter; the Heat may not want two of that kind of player. He also may be a little short to play SG in the NBA, but he is extremely strong, which helps. Not a great ballhandler, but if he's only asked to shoot, it may not matter. It was down to him or Glover as my pick, and Utah made the decision for me.

Tim James, U of Miami. A solid, solid player whom I thought might be around, but to no avail. Not a great shooter but a tough player who can score down low.

James Posey, Xavier. This was the guy I really wanted. An incredibly athletic sleeper who is a better offensive player than many think. He'd improve the team's quickness and can play defense the way Riley likes. But recent hype took him out of my reach.

Kris Clack, Texas. Great athlete who can really go to the hoop, but his outside game is weak. Glover can do everything he does and more. He'd definitely be my first choice if Glover wasn't available, though.

I briefly thought about Kenny Thomas and Lee Nailon, but the Heat don't really need any help at PF and those guys are classic tweeners.

Rico Hill, Melvin Levett and Rodney Buford were considered but each had some negatives. Hill was a strong candidate, but like Glover he has injury problems. Unlike Glover, we don't know how serious they are. Levett isn't a good enough shooter and had a tendency to disappear at times, although he's a great defender and by far the best leaper in the draft. That fact that he's 6-3 doesn't help matters. Buford was very strongly considered, but again came up as a Glover-type who wasn't quite as good.

VI. What The Heat Should Do:

  • Make sure Porter doesn't leave by offering to extend his contract. It's unlikely that the Heat could do better in terms of back-up points.
  • Re-sign Majerle to keep team continuity.
  • Find a solid SG or SF and sign them with the 2 mil or 1 mil exception. Scott Burrell might be a good choice, or perhaps a bomber like George McCloud. Another intriguing player whose contract is up is Cedric Henderson, a hard working forward who would fit in well with the Heat. It may be hard to pry them away from their original teams, but there's a good number of decent wings that can really shore up the Heat, especially if they don't re-sign Majerle. Mitch Richmond's contract is up, and he's often been associated with the Heat in trade rumors, but I don't think the Heat can afford him.

I'm not in favor of radically restructuring the team, but if the Heat can get a big-time scorer without giving up PJ Brown, I'm in favor of it. Mash and Lenard may not be enough to trigger such a deal, though.

VII. What The Heat Will Really Do:

I would guess that the Heat may trade the pick, although the deadline has passed to get Utah a top 20 pick to complete an old deal. The Heat will thus forfeit next year's pick, no matter what it is. If Riley makes a play for another scorer, he will likely have to give up PJ Brown to make a deal. Brown is greatly desired because he's a no-frills forward who plays hard every game, plays solid D, gets 7 or 8 boards, and throws in 10 points. Plus, he has an affordable salary (about 4 mil a year with four years left on his contract).

There have been a number of interesting rumors going around about what the Heat will do. My favorite has Glen Rice going back to Miami, Brown and Lenard going to Vancouver, and the Lakers getting the #2 pick. The Heat would then use their 2 million or 1.1 million dollar exception to sign a veteran power forward like Otis Thorpe or Charles Oakley. (Other names mentioned on that front have included AC Green, Mark Bryant and Jermaine o'Neal. o'Neal is intriguing because of his youth and athleticism.) It's unlikely that this will happen, however. Another deal mentioned has the Heat picking up Ron Mercer and Tony Battie from the Celtics in exchange for Brown. While Mercer would certainly make the Heat younger and solve some of their penetration problems, he wouldn't help much in the perimeter shooting department.

As far as free agents go, I expect Askins and Dan Majerle will both be back. Askins will probably sign a 1-year deal. Majerle is another matter. I imagine he'll try to get another three year deal but may have to settle for a 1-year.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner

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