Even if the Miami Heat are unable to trade Hassan Whiteside before the start of the upcoming season, the team will be looking to move on from the inconsistent big man. On Thursday night, they could potentially be anointing his successor when they use the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel quoted an Eastern Conference scout who believes that despite the way the game is now played, certain abilities are still required:
“Somebody still has to guard a five, I mean, somebody’s got to guard [Joel] Embiid, somebody’s got to guard [Marc] Gasol. You’re not thinking your P.J. Washington, your K.Z. Okpala is going to guard bigs.
“There’s certainly a trend of limiting the five position to the [Clint] Capelas of the world. Because people assume there’s no more post-up game, they just feel that post-up has been written out of the scouting universe.”
Depending on whether the Heat believe that Bam Adebayo will advance his game in the years ahead, they could look to select two players in his mold: Jaxon Hayes of the University of Texas and Nic Claxton from the University of Georgia.
That same scout noted how both prospects currently fit the image being sought by many teams, with offensive ability now considered a luxury:
“The perception of the role is to find a rim-running Capela, Jaxon Hayes. Some teams are going, ‘We don’t expect anything out of the center position.’ Part of it is just a limitation of the five role. They just want rebound, switch-ability. Offense is gravy.”
In addition, there are three other options at center that hold a good deal of promise to deliver on offense, but are still raw talents waiting to be developed.
The top option, 6-foot-11 Goga Bitadze of the Republic of Georgia, has drawn comparisons to Gasol and could be the first international player selected in this year’s draft.
In the case of 7-foot-2 University of Oregon center Bol Bol, the combination of a lean body, suspect skills on defense and the fact that he’s coming off a foot injury may outweigh his athleticism.
Finally, Mfiondu Kabengele played at Florida State University and can hit from beyond the arc. However, the 6-foot-10 prospect does have a problem when it comes to drawing fouls.
The Heat may also seek to find a replacement for Whiteside through free agency, though the more likely route is by drafting a player they can develop on their own. The bottom line is that while Whiteside was once seen as the a key part of the team’s future, will soon likely be just a part of their past.