Despite No Picks, Heat’s Pat Riley Sets High Expectations for NBA Draft

Pat Riley

Getty President Pat Riley of the Miami Heat talks during the Dwyane Wade L3GACY Celebration at American Airlines Arena on February 21, 2020.

Miami Heat‘s lack of draft picks was the Achilles heel in the front office’s attempt to make a blockbuster trade this past season, president Pat Riley still eked out trades to acquire two-time All-Star Victor Oladipo and veteran Trevor Ariza before the deadline.

Now, even though the Heat don’t have any first or second-round picks in the NBA Draft this year, Riley has still tasked Miami’s vice president of basketball operations, Adam Simon, to make something happen.

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Riley announced during his annual end-of-season conference in June that he didn’t see the franchise’s lack of draft picks as a huge problem. “We don’t have any picks, but I can guarantee you we’ll probably get a couple of good players out of this year’s draft, somehow,” as reported by Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.

While it sounds like a fool’s errand to attempt to get “a couple of good players” without draft picks, per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman, instead of calling out “the Godfather” for being off his rocker, Simon took on the challenge.

“It makes our scouting staff feel good,” Simon said of Riley’s Mission Impossible-style assignment. “Our boss believes in us, that we’re good at identifying talent and trying to get them and recruit them and then our coaching staff can develop them.”

“That’s the whole part of trying to find those types of players,” Simon continued. “It’s an organizational thing. The agents out there know that we do a really good job developing, our coaching staff. So I think Pat wants us to find a couple of good, young players. And that’s the job at hand.”

The Heat Have a Reputation of Successfully Developing Undrafted Players

Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson

GettyBleacher Report predicts the free agency market will force the Miami Heat to release either Kendrick Nunn (L) or Duncan Robinson (R).

The Heat’s reputation of molding undrafted players into NBA stars makes trying to recruit players is Miami’s calling card. Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who’s projected to get paid a $20 million salary next season, Kendrick Nunn, who’s also one of the top restricted free agents going into the offseason, Gabe Vincent, and Chris Silva all went undrafted.

Winderman reported, “Simon’s staff also has been scouting the first 60, with the Heat able to trade into the draft or buy a pick, with $5.6 million in allocated cash still available to spend on acquiring such a July 29 selection.”

Obviously, this complicates the whole process. Simon admitted, “It’s like trying to shoot a moving target. You just don’t know where you’ll be able to jump in and what the cost will be. And so, our job is to prepare our order, our ranking. And as we get closer, and as we start finding out what the price may be, then there is a chance that we can get into the draft. So we have to be ready for it.”

The Heat Can Buy a Draft Pick With $5.6 Million of Allocated Cash

In order to utilize the $5.6 million for a prospect in this year’s draft, Simon would first need to get the approval of Riley, General Manager Andy Eisburg, and CEO Nick Arison.

“I’m not trying to do something just to do something for myself,” Simon said. “We’re doing things for the organization and we’re making decisions as an organization. I don’t need to sit there and try to pull a rabbit out of my hat just because I want our scouting staff to try to do something that we don’t need to do.”

In the meantime, the front office continues plotting and planning together on how to make some magic happen without having draft picks.

“But what we do, as a group, including Andy, Pat, of course, and our staff that talk with other teams, is you’re just trying to get a feel of what the price would be to get into the draft.”

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