With the 14th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Miami HEAT have selected Bam Adebayo from Kentucky.
In 38 games at Kentucky this season, Adebayo averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Perhaps most impressive is he shot 60.1 percent from the field.
Drafting Adebayo could be insurance for the team should backup center Willie Reed leave in free agency this summer. Adebayo appears to be a good fit in the HEAT’s system with his ability to impact a game on the defensive end, something starting center Hassan Whiteside and Reed excelled at.
Standing at 6-foot-9, Adebayo has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and displayed great shot-blocking abilities at Kentucky. His game is reminiscent of Reed’s as a mobile big man that can run the floor very well and instantly provide energy to the floor. He also proved to be a great offensive rebounder after pulling in 4.1 offensive boards per 40 minutes.
Adebayo was one of the most surprising NBA Draft Green Room invites on Thursday. Typically, when a player receives an invite to the Green Room, it means teams believe he’ll be drafted within the first 20 or so picks. It was reported Thursday morning by Basketball Insiders’ own Steve Kyler that Adebayo received a draft promise from a lottery team.
He really began to climb up mock drafts in recent weeks after working out with several teams. Even coming into the Draft, Adebayo was projected to be taken in the 20’s.
While he could potentially be a replacement for Reed, Adebayo may also play more in a development role next season. The HEAT have proved to be a great team at developing young players by way of the NBA or in the D-League so Adebayo appears to have found a great team.
Barring some sort of trade, this will be the only draft pick the HEAT have Thursday night.
#20 – Josh Okogie – Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie with the 20th overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft.
At the NBA level, Okogie probably projects as a shooting guard. Despite being 6-foot-4, Okogie has the physical tools and the ability to guard taller shooting guards. He was a pretty good defensive player in college and that will probably be one of his strengths in the NBA.
On the offensive end, Okogie is a good shooter. He shot 38 percent from the three-point line last season as a sophomore. An outside shooter is something the Timberwolves will definitely welcome to the rotation. In terms of the rest of his offensive game, he might struggle a bit getting his shot off over taller wing defenders in the NBA. At the college level, he was able to get to the rim and score and it will be interesting to see if that translates to the NBA.
Overall, he does project as a nice 3-and-D prospect. Defense and shooting are his strengths and lockdown defenders who can hit the three-ball are highly desired at the next level. It’s a bit difficult to imagine him getting regular rotation minutes right away for a playoff team but down the line he should emerge as a solid rotation player.
#19 – Kevin Huerter – Atlanta Hawks
With the No. 19 pick in the NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks selected Kevin Huerter from the University of Maryland.
After 10 consecutive seasons reaching the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks failed to win 25 contests in 2018. Gone are All-Stars Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague, each of whom the franchise groomed at various points during their decade of playoff bliss. Now the team is faced with a daunting rebuild under second year general manager Travis Schlenk and first year coach Lloyd Pierce.
Huerter becomes the first Maryland player to be selected in the first round since center Alex Len was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2013. Huerter was projected to be available in the 16 to 24 range and the Hawks get a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, who has the ability to spread the floor.
In two seasons at Maryland, Huerter averaged 12 points, five rebounds and three assists on 46 percent shooting from the floor. As a sophomore, Huerter connected on 73 three-pointers on a sparkling 42 percent accuracy from long range.
The Hawks have been looking for consistent production from the two guard spot ever since Tim Hardaway Jr. left the team to join the New York Knicks in free agency last summer.
Huerter will join a young Hawks core of point guard Dennis Schroder and forward John Collins, two of the team’s first round draft picks from prior years, as well as dynamic guard Trae Young, who was selected with the fifth overall pick of this year’s draft (pending the trade with the Dallas Mavericks being finalized).
#16 – Zhaire Smith- Phoenix Suns
The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly traded the rights to Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for the 16th overall pick, which was used to select Zhaire Smith, as well as a 2021 first round draft pick.
Smith was a freshman small forward out of Texas Tech who has plenty of athleticism. Last season, Smith averaged 11.3 points, five rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Where Smith stands out is on the defensive end. He has the size, speed, mobility and instincts to be a plus-defender, which is rare among players at this stage in their respective careers. The downside is that Smith doesn’t necessarily have the size to reasonably guard most power forwards, though he can certainly hold his own in limited situations.
Smith should be a nice addition for Philadelphia, which already has several big wing players. The team is built around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but Smith adds even more athleticism and upside for the young up-and-coming squad. Smith is also a solid passer and he can take the ball off of the dribble. However, Smith’s jumper can be a bit inconsistent at times, which is something he will need to work on moving forward. He also needs to work on becoming a more effective player in pick and roll situations. However, with his elite athleticism and notable skill set, it’s not hard to undestand why the 76ers had interest in making a deal for him.
This is a nice grab for the 76ers, who saved some cap space and acquired a future first rounder in the deal.