So this is going to be weird. Heat fans have grown accustomed to spending May biting their fingernails as they watch their team pursue another championship, but not this season. No, the highlight of this season's May comes tonight... and it includes a bunch of Ping-Pong balls. Yeah, not the same.
It's cool, though. The Miami Heat actually picked one hell of a year to be down, because this draft is incredibly flush with talent that can help the Heat next year. The Heat just barely held on to the coveted tenth-worst-team-in-the-NBA crown at the end of the season, meaning they presently hold the tenth pick and a 1.1 percent chance at landing the first-overall pick in the draft. Key word in that last sentence was "presently," because if a team jumps them in the lottery, thus dropping them to 11th or worse in the draft order, the Philadelphia 76ers get the pick, and the Heat get bupkis, nada, zilch, zip. Not cool.
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The actual draft itself takes place June 25, and the Minnesota Timberwolves (25%), New York Knicks (19.9%), and the Philadelphia 76ers (15.6%) hold the highest odds of winning the lottery. If the Heat are to pick anywhere above tenth, it would mean bumping one of these teams down a few notches, making their seven-month tanking efforts all for naught.
The overall consensus seems to be that the tops prizes, and most "sure-things" in this draft are Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke national champion Jahlil Okafor. Both players would obviously excite Miami Heat fans, but many other prospects below these two could be solid contributors on this Heat team as soon as next season. Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell, Duke forward Justise Winslow, International stars Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja, Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, and many other solid prospects may be sitting there at #10 if that is indeed where the Heat select. None of those players are as sure-a-thing as the Okafor or Towns, but most all of those players could come off the bench for the Heat next season. That's not a stretch to say, seeing that by the end of last year the Heat had D-League All-Stars and Michael Beasley at the end of the bench.
This season may not have gone how Heat fans had hoped, but the silver lining is that tomorrow could be a huge step in the right direction when it comes to getting back to rooting for the team on the court in May.