Report: Miami Heat have worked out star players from UCLA and Santa Clara ahead of 2023 NBA Draft

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The Miami Heat, just days removed from losing the NBA Finals, have their sights set firmly on next season and are working out players prior to the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Heat hold the No. 18 pick in Thursday’s draft, with University of California, Los Angeles standout Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Santa Clara University product Brandin Podziemski each a possibility for that spot.

A recent mock draft by The Athletic has Jaquez as the No. 22 pick to the Brooklyn Nets and Podziemski as the No. 28 pick to the Utah Jazz.

Jaquez averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a senior at UCLA. In the process, he earned Defensive Player of the Year honors in his conference.

Podziemski is described as a very good shooter who may lack NBA-level skills as a defender. He led Santa Clara with 19.9 points per game this past season and made 43.8 percent of his attempts from 3-point range.

At No. 18, The Athletic has Miami selecting Jordan Hawkins of the University of Connecticut. He is described as perhaps the best movement shooter in the class.

Finding a useful player with that pick is a key part of Miami’s offseason puzzle. The Heat are coming off a surprising appearance in the NBA Finals and must figure out how they want to build around Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo to make another run at a championship.

They could look to add another star player, a strategy that’s gaining a lot of steam after Miami’s supporting cast did not hold up in its five-game loss to the Denver Nuggets. Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers are two players who have been frequently linked to the Heat.

Miami could instead run it back with a strong group of role players. Re-signing unrestricted free agents Max Strus and Gabe Vincent would have to be a large part of that plan, and there reportedly is “mutual interest” in keeping those guys around.

The Heat do not currently have a second-round pick in this draft, so the No. 18 selection will be closely watched as their plans for next season take shape.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.