Winning puts Miami Heat under pressure to deliver in upcoming NBA draft

The Miami Heat’s recent string of victories may cost them a top draft pick, but they’ll still have an opportunity to atone for past NBA draft misses.

Before the Miami Heat kicked off a nine game win-streak, the entire conversation was based around who would be the better fit between Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. Now, the focus may never shift back as the Heat have likely played themselves out of contention for a top pick.

The concept of coming away with such projected talent is the reason why proponents of tanking have been having a hard time with the team’s recent success.

The argument is that the Heat are costing themselves with every win. Continued victories could mean making it to the playoffs in an Eastern Conference where they went from competing for last place in the standings–at 19 games under .500–to only three games out of eighth.

Read More: What Happened To Tanking?

In the eyes of certain fans, having the team get better only means that the Heat are costing the organization a shot at bringing on one of the NCAA’s elite. However to the point of the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman, critics of improvements should not be mad because these players were never truly their own to lose in the first place:

“The Heat aren’t drafting this week, this month or any time before June. And until Feb. 23, at the NBA trading deadline, there still is time to recalibrate the roster. So you let the games dictate. The Heat aren’t losing out on top picks, because in their view they never had a top pick (or any other pre-determined pick).”

The more losses that piled up, the more everyone saw the possibilities of redemption for picking Michael Beasley over Russell Westbrook in 2008–making losing look ideal. Perhaps it was Pat Riley’s insistence that the team was in full rebuild mode while chasing another first round pick, that fans expected to tank.

All of that is irrelevant now. The Heat will still have a pick–wherever it may be–and need to focus on not missing out on another Devin Booker or Miles Turner.

Mar 3, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket as Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) defends during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 3, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) drives to the basket as Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) defends during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Granted the Heat had the valid excuse of not drafting ball dominant guards, in 2008 and 2015, with Dwyane Wade still on the roster, but there is no one on the current team who’s position cannot be challenged for minutes.

In order for Miami to find someone productive, their scouting has to be as good as it was when they found Mario Chalmers and Josh Richardson in the second round. Better yet, as good at flushing out talent as they were with their D-League gems (Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside, Willie Reed, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White).

Ultimately, the wins will dictate the need for first-round magic. The Heat may be rebuilding, but they are also evaluating.

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