Miami Heat: Draft Express predicts slide to No. 14 for Frank Ntilikina

The most accurate draft prognosticators — Draft Express — predict a draft-day fall for elite point guard prospect Frank Ntilikina, all the way to the Miami Heat.

Year-in and year-out, the folks over at Draft Express (D/X) have proven to be the most accurate draft prognosticators around.

For proof, look no further than this piece from our friends over at Purple and Blues from 2015. After that year’s prospect selection process, they used a formula to figure out which of the big draft pundits had the most exact projections.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, D/X turned out to be the most precise.

Oh, and to that point, it had been the case 10 years running.

That’s important because it means not only are they adept at the scouting portion of predicting the NBA Draft, but they’re also extremely well-connected behind the scenes. Essentially, when D/X subtlety reports on teams favoring certain guys, it almost always proves to be true.

We bring all of that up because in their most recent mock-up, they had a bit of a surprise for fans of the Miami Heat. Prior to Sunday morning’s update, D/X had a variety of players going 14th overall; for a while it was Indiana’s OG Anunoby, then it was UNC’s Justin Jackson and most recently it was Wake Forest’s John Collins.

Now, the name D/X has going No. 14 is Frank Ntilikina, an elite point guard prospect out of France. The 18-year-old is 6’6″, long, athletic and arguably the best defensive lead guard in his class. His jump shot is streaky, but the form he’s got on it is quite solid and should eventually translate.

He’s still a bit raw as a creator and ball-handler, but considering his age, that’s not overly concerning. The Ringer likens Ntilikina to George Hill and Jeremy Lin — apt comparisons, since neither of them are pure point guards but rather combo guards who happen to run point.

In all, the young floor general is an exciting prospect who possesses great untapped potential, but will need some time to develop before he can run an offense at the professional level.

From a Heat perspective, the projection does raise a few questions. For one, would Pat Riley and co. really target yet another combo guard with the 14th overall pick?

They already have a ton of money tied up to Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, while Josh Richardson will be due an extension after the 2018-19 season. Miami has also made it clear they’d like to bring back Dion Waiters, so theoretically, Ntilikina would be the fifth ball-handler on the roster. Needless to say, that’s a lot.

Furthermore, the team has not had the talented point guard in for a workout yet, because he’s been in France throughout the entirety of the pre-draft process. To get a closer look at him, some teams have sent personnel overseas to scout him. Miami has not been one of those teams.

If D/X’s prediction actually comes true, the situation would resemble Justise Winslow‘s draft night fall of 2015.

Ntilikina has been projected as a top-10 pick for much of the last year. Likewise, D/X’s final mock-up had Winslow going fifth, before he fell all the way to the Heat at No. 10. Miami did not expect that to happen so, as would be the case with Ntilikina, they never bothered working him out.

Would the Heat repeat history and take the player with the highest upside still available at No. 14, even without meeting him in person before the night of the draft? Or would they feel more comfortable selecting someone they’re more familiar with, like Justin Jackson?

I, for one, hope the answer is the former, as Ntilikina’s upside as a two-way monster is through the roof. Nevertheless, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

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