Here’s why the Heat might draft a guard with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts against the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

MIAMI — It makes sense for the Heat to draft a forward with the 14th overall pick. With Chris Bosh out of the picture and power forwards James Johnson and Luke Babbitt set to be free agents this summer, Miami needs to add depth to this position either through the draft, free agency or trade.

But does it make sense for the Heat to select a guard in the first round of Thursday’s NBA draft?

Some popular mock drafts have been recalibrated to have Miami selecting a backcourt prospect at No. 14. DraftExpress projects the Heat to take French point guard Frank Ntilikina, and ESPN’s Chad Ford and NBADraft.net project the Heat to take Louisville shooting guard Donovan Mitchell.

With guards Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder expected to be back on Miami’s roster next season, using a first-round pick to draft a guard doesn’t seem like the prudent move. Throw in the fact that the Heat could still retain starting shooting guard Dion Waiters in free agency and also have a fairly affordable $6.3 million team option to bring back shooting guard Wayne Ellington, and picking a guard might not make sense to some people.

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But here’s why the Heat might do it.

There’s no guarantee that Miami will re-sign Waiters, who is expected to get big contract offers in free agency this summer. Also, Miami could pass on Ellington’s team option to save that cap space to bring back James Johnson or fit an All-Star like Gordon Hayward under the cap. And finally, drafting a guard would give the Heat flexibility to shop Tyler Johnson’s backloaded contract, which goes from $5.9 million this upcoming season to around $19 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Or taking a guard could simply be the result of Miami taking “the best player available” regardless of position.

Ntilikina is an intriguing prospect, as the 18-year-old is a 6-foot-5 point guard with a wingspan that’s reportedly close to 7 feet. Ntilikina might need some time to develop into a consistent contributor, but DraftExpress writes that his “defense, perimeter shooting and basketball IQ gives him tremendous versatility in today’s NBA, allowing him to be utilized in many different roles and alongside all kinds of different teammates and lineup configurations.”

As for Mitchell, he’s another versatile guard who is an above average defender. The 6-foot-3 combo guard has an impressive 6-foot-10 wingspan. That’s a frame that makes some think of Dwyane Wade, who measured in at 6-foot-3 with a 6-10.75 wingspan at the 2003 combine.

And the Wade comparisons don’t stop there.

“The Heat will have a tough time passing on Mitchell if the Hornets and Pistons do,” Ford writes. “His elite athleticism, length and game give him a passing resemblance to a young Dwyane Wade. I don’t think he has that same ceiling, but his talent is definitely worth taking a risk on here.”

In short, don’t be surprised if the Heat use the 14th overall pick on a guard.

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