Heat

Heat Hit Home Run With Jovic

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Rule No. 1: All Miami Heat draft picks have no right to be doubted at this point in time. The scouting and development team has proven this.

Rule No. 2: The Heat will never keep a pick if they lack confidence in the selection. As Max Strus said on Stadium’s live draft show prior to the Heat’s selection, “it would be a total Miami Heat move to trade this.”

Given these two rules — and the pre-draft rankings — Nikola Jovic is simply a great pick.

An A+ pick.

Jovic was expected to be selected in the early 20s. A slip to 27 certainly isn’t a major fall, but it’s noteworthy, especially with the 19-year-old actually rising draft boards and receiving more hype leading up to the draft.

Finding a player of Jovic’s skill is rare. Typically, players with “rare” skillsets find themselves in the lottery. The Heat got this unique, well-rounded — perhaps unicorn? — player at the 27th selection.

WHAT DOES JOVIC DO?

Jovic is different in that he’s 6’11 with a 7’0 wingspan that has guard skills. While this mold of player is slowly becoming increasingly popular, that doesn’t mean it’s common. Getting one of these players here is rare; they are usually highly touted.

One year ago at the FIBA U19 World Cup, Jovic led Serbia to a fourth-place finish, averaging 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game with two 25-point showings. This contest didn’t have slouch competition either; it was legit, as two of this year’s top-five picks played for Team USA: Chet Holmgren and Jaden Ivey.

Jovic is a high-IQ player who routinely makes the right play, something seemingly common among European prospects. Part of what contributes to this is the level of competition and experience overseas.

“I’ve played against grown men,” Jovic said in his interview with ESPN’s Monica McNutt following his selection. “That’s the thing that helped me the most… It was really tough there. I think my basketball IQ is one thing that I practiced there and [have] a little bit of an advantage.”

High feel is perhaps the best way to describe Jovic. He can handle the ball and be a threat in the pick and roll. He can drain pull-up 3s from it or get downhill and make a great, trusty read. His height allows him to shoot over defenders as well, creating a difficult player to guard.

He makes the right play most of the time.

While he can operate the pick and roll, he also has the potential of a roller due to his height. In theory, he has matchup-nightmare potential.

That is if he gets on the court, however. Ultimately, Jovic is very young and doesn’t come without flaws. He isn’t someone who is likely to bring a large defensive presence. Like somebody with a similar name, however, the defense can be something that comes along with time (yes, Nikola Jokic), and the size offers some hope.

HOW DOES JOVIC FIT WITH MIAMI?

Given his age and Miami’s depth, Jovic won’t have a large role in his first season. And with the perpetual Heat trade rumors, it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility that Jovic doesn’t play a game in a Miami uniform. If the Heat are going for a top-tier player like Donovan Mitchell or Bradley Beal, there’s a chance Jovic is included in a trade.

In Summer League, he is arguably the biggest name to watch for the Heat as the best prospect (admittingly, this depends on your view of Omer Yurtseven). His three-point shooting — off the dribble and off the catch — will be something to watch, and how he operates the pick and roll will be fascinating. The creator the Heat are searching for may have been found in the form of a gem.

Realistically, Jovic will see spot minutes throughout the season. Pat Riley called the selection more of a “developmental” pick, so large Jovic minutes seems out of the question.

Ultimately, it’s hard to truly point a finger and say “this is how much he will play” given the roster and situation’s uncertainty.

While Jaden Hardy and E.J. Liddell seemed like popular options among Heat Twitter for more of a win-now player, consider this: are either of these players much better of a win-now option than Jovic is? The argument that they are better for that mold is there, but the significant difference between those two options and Jovic simply does not exist. Was there a single player available at No. 27 to become a clear-cut immediate contributor?

Likely not. As a developmental pick, Jovic makes sense.

The Heat should get the most out of Jovic both defensively and full growth. He’s 19 with the Heat’s development. The sky is the limit.

About Charlie Spungin

Twitter: @CharlieS3_

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