- Michael Wallace, ESPN Staff Writer
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Who might Pat Riley select in Thursday's draft with the 27th pick? His draft guru sheds some light.
MIAMI – With the No. 27 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Miami Heat select …
It might not be the kind of player many think the defending champions need.
Based on how the Heat effectively finished the season with their small-ball versatile lineups, team vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer said Wednesday that Miami is more likely to draft a perimeter player than a big man when commissioner David Stern steps to the podium with their draft card Thursday night.
“It's not that we're not going to be interested in a big,” Kammerer said during Miami's pre-draft media availability at AmericanAirlines Arena. “We have the greatest player in the world on our roster. What we have to do is bring a player in that will complement him and our stars. I think it's the most important thing right now.”
Despite what appears to be a glaring need for a center, Kammerer indicated the Heat won't necessarily think conventionally when they select late in the first round. Instead, the priority will be to find a player who is capable of playing two positions and who can fit alongside Finals MVP LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Several mock drafts have the Heat targeting power forwards or centers such as Syracuse's Fab Melo, Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli or Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn, whereas ESPN's Chad Ford sees Vanderbilt's wing Jeff Taylor as a possibility for the defending champions. Kammerer said he's followed several of the media-produced mock drafts, but wouldn't put too much stock in where players are slated to go beyond the top 14 picks.
Although team president Pat Riley's challenge to his draft staff is to find “a good big,” the Heat don't believe any of the potential centers on their draft priority board will be available in the late 20s when their pick comes around.
“I think it's going to be difficult to get a big man at No. 27,” Kammerer said. “For us to find someone, at No. 27, that will totally excite us.”
Kammerer, who has been evaluating draft prospects for the Heat for two decades, said he sees plenty of depth and potential in this year's class, particular with players he has rated between the No. 20 and 40 picks. Miami has worked out 41 prospects in the days leading up to the draft.
Kammerer's mission to “find the right fit” could have multiple meanings for the Heat.
Miami could be on the lookout for a player who can play both small and power forward, one who could buy James a few minutes of rest during the regular season. The Heat might also target a power forward or center to add depth behind converted center Bosh with so much uncertainty at those spots on the current roster.
Power forward Juwan Howard and centers Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman all enter free agency on Sunday. Small forward Mike Miller is evaluating options that could include back surgery and, possibly, retirement despite having three seasons remaining on his five-year contract.
A few things Kammerer was fairly certain about entering Thursday's draft was that the Heat likely won't trade out of the pick or make a move to acquire a second-rounder. The plan also is to acclimate their draft pick into the system as quickly as possible, with a spot on the Heat's entry in the Las Vegas summer league next month.
Pittman along with first-year guards Norris Cole and Terrel Harris are likely to play on the summer league squad. Kammerer also said 2010 second-round pick Jarvis Varnado, who has played overseas the past two years, is scheduled to play with the summer team.
But for now, the objective is to add a productive young piece to the veteran mix – not necessarily a new developmental project.
“With the way we ended the season, it's more likely we look at a perimeter (player) more now than we would have two weeks ago, frankly,” Kammerer said. “We ended up switching a lot defensively this year, which turned out to be pretty successful for us. So if we can find a player that's versatile, that can fit and play defense and switch and not cause mismatches, that's going to be pretty important.”
1532dKevin Arnovitz and Tom Haberstroh