Heat mailbag: First pick of the draft or first round playoff victory. … Which would you prefer?

The playoffs are a magical time in Miami. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

The playoffs are a magical time in Miami. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

 

HOUSTON – The Miami Heat remain in the playoff picture, just two games out of the eighth spot, despite dropping their last two games.

The Heat still have some work to do. A recent 13-game winning streak put them in position to play meaningful games at least through the end of February. Now comes the difficult part of maintaining that momentum into the spring and beating out three or four teams for one of the final two spots.

Getting to the postseason would be rewarding and advancing to the second round would take an upset of epic proportions. That is the basis of one of our questions this week, from sports radio talk show host Evan Cohen, who you can hear on Sirius XM and ESPN West Palm Beach.

If you weren’t able to submit a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44.

From @EvCoRadio: What’s better #1 overall pick or 1st rd w over CLE?

To me it isn’t close. Securing the first pick in the draft likely means stumbling to one of the three worst records in the league. Qualifying for the playoffs means a competitive, satisfying final couple of months to a season that completely turned after one of the worst starts in franchise history.

And then to follow that up with a historic upset of the defending champions. …

Just making the playoffs means the Heat would have received contributions from some unlikely sources plus several players would have progressed in their development. If Miami is able to finish .500 or better, and while doing so push players like Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder beyond the limits they had shown in their careers, this will only make the Heat more attractive when it comes to free agents. And for that team to do the unthinkable and knock off LeBron James, just think of the momentum this franchise would carry into the offseason, and still with about $40 million to spend on free agents.

Teams that celebrate winning the lottery are only celebrating their failure. And having a high draft pick – or multiple high picks – guarantees you nothing. The Heat once had the second pick in the draft and took Michael Beasley. How did that work out? And how are the Lakers and 76ers doing with all of their recent high lottery picks? Sure, both have some nice young players but neither is close to being a contender.

In fact, to make this question even more realistic: If I’m part of the Heat brain trust, I would rather qualify for the playoffs and lose in the first round than be bad enough for a chance at the No. 1 pick. And a guy with a pretty solid resume feels the same way.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: Do you think what happened with Jim Dolan and the Knicks could ever happen with Micky Arison and the Heat?

Let me think about that: NO. NEVER. NOT A CHANCE. Can I say it any louder?

First of all, comparing the ownership skills of Jim Dolan to Micky Arison is like comparing quarterback skills of Evan Cohen to Tom Brady. (Evan once threw eight interceptions in a high school game while Brady. … he’s pretty good.)

The only comparison in South Florida to the Knicks’ ineptitude when it comes to running a professional sports franchise is to the Marlins and Jeffrey Loria. For more than a decade South Florida has witnessed the best and worst on how to run a franchise with Arison’s tenure in Miami qualifying as one of the more successful in pro sports.

Few owners have run their franchise better than Arison and it started by bringing in Pat Riley and allowing him, and the rest of the basketball operations staff, to worry about the product on the court without a meddling owner looking over their shoulders. The result has been three titles and five trips to the NBA Finals, which means since the 2005-06 season the Heat have as many championship banners hanging from the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena as the Knicks and Dolan have winning seasons.

The sad situation in New York – capped by the Charles Oakley embarrassment last week – stems from Dolan turning the Knicks into one of the more dysfunctional franchises in all of sports and losing all respect from former players. That could not be further from what has gone on with the Heat under Arison.

[Hassan Whiteside and Miami Heat move past frustration from Monday’s loss to Magic]

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