So as we move within 12 hours of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat are in a great position to build on their Championship team and season.
With arguably the best pool of complimentary free agents in the past decade, a fairly deep, talented draft and some potential space clearing retirements, Miami should be able to significantly improve on the roster that earned them the title just a week ago.
Ray Allen is supposedly already looking for houses on South Beach. After their epic 7 game series with the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, Allen was one of the few classy Celtics that remained on the court to shake the hands of the victorious South Floridians. Reportedly he was handing out resumes as he congratulated Miami.
Jason Terry, Steve Nash and Brandon Roy too have admitted their interest in joining the Champions, but for the moment, the Heat’s attention will be on the Draft.
The consensus pick for Miami, should he be available, is Syracuse’s 7ft center Fab Melo. Melo fits an immediate and desperate need of the Heat, adding much needed size, rebound and blocking. His offensive game is raw, but that is completely irrelevant as the Heat hardly need him for that. Melo would immediately slot into the starting lineup, allowing Bosh and James to move back to their preferred positions. It will take pressure off James to play the 4 and even 5 at times, whilst giving the team rebounding relief. They have lacked a shot alterer throughout their two seasons together, but Melo would certainly change that.
However, as is usually the case, there has been a significant name free falling in the lead up to the draft, such a free fall that it could play into the hands of the Champion Miami Heat.
Jared Sullinger was a consensus top 5 pick last year, but decided to return to Ohio State for another year after failing in the Tournament. The Buckeyes were again unable to win, with Sullinger playing much less of a role as people began to see the faults in his game and mostly his size. A 6’9 power forward with a streaky offensive game, Sullinger is now supposedly not even in lottery consideration, same can be said for former top 5 consensus from a year ago Perry Jones III, and possibly could be available at 27 for the Heat.
Sullinger is certainly the more polished and probably the more talented of the two. His offensive game is much more developed, he’s extremely physical and an arsenal of low post moves to help him score. However, does this fit the needs Miami has?
Should the two be available, I think Miami would still take Melo. Obviously Sullinger had the better career and is the better player, but Miami are not in the market for another scorer. At 6’9, he is going to be a power forward in the league, and Miami have a very good one of those. They also have another guy who has learned to play successfully in the post over the past 12 months and won a couple of awards and a ring doing it.
Melo really will offer nothing on offense, other than tip dunks and scrappy offensive rebounds, but that’s all the Heat want. Joel Anthony, Ronny Turiaf, Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem were all tried at the position and all were eventually sent to the bench. Bosh started at the 5 through the final rounds of the playoffs as Miami went to a smaller lineup. Whilst they were hugely successful rotating and exploiting match-ups, it’s not an ideal nor long term solution for the Heat.
Dalembert, Garnett, Kaman and Oden all sit without contracts and all could be intriguing for the Heat, but all practically ensure significant money will be taken away from their mission to bring in some more shooting around the Big 3.
Melo is the obvious pick for Miami should he be there. Don’t be surprised if they move up to take him, just as they did for Norris Cole last year. If Pat Riley sees something he wants, he usually gets it. Look at his rings, look at his Big 3, look at his wife.