By R. Behar
Over the last few months reports, rumors and secrets attempting to predict the choices over the NBA draft that took place this Thursday, 23rd of June, had been raging on social media platforms. Naturally most experts and headlines focused on the main area of discussion: who would the Orlando Magic select with the first pick of the draft? Would Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero or Jabari Smith become the number one pick of the 2022 NBA draft? The youngsters were interchangeably predicted to go 1st and all basketball commentators dwelled over this decision.
One legendary front office was forgotten, however. Amidst the monotonous debate over the 1st pick, the Miami heat front office, lead by Hall of Fame General Manager Pat Riley, had been working on their selection. The Miami Heat had a minor presence in the NBA draft possessing only the 27th pick and were as a result considered minor players. However, this opportunity proved extremely useful for the Heat to fill in their missing piece at the power forward spot; with Markieff Morris intending on testing free agency and P.J. Tucker opting out of his 7.5 million USD player option, the spot was left vacant. Thus, from the pool of remaining top picks, including the likes of elite players such as EJ Liddell (Ohio State University), Tyty Washington (Kentucky), Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee) and Jaden Hardy (G-League Ignite), the Heat selected Nikola Jovic from Mega Basket, a team in the Serbian Adriatic League.
The 19-year-old Serbian forward was one of the most anticipated international players in the draft. He was a combination of size and skill possessing a frame reaching 6 foot 11 inches and weighing in at 225 pounds. Yet his size does not hinder him as he can handle the ball and shoot 3 pointers with ease. He has proven his worth in the FIBA U19 world cup when he was nominated All-Tournament team due to his incredible stat sheet of 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game shooting an impressive 49% from the field. Before we come to criticize him for the fact that he has not met the greatest level of competition in Europe, we must remember he is still only 19! It is safe to say that Miami’s pick has a huge upside and could potentially contribute to a long-awaited championship run for a team who is ever so close to a championship.