Dragic was taken 45th by San Antonio, who traded him on draft night to Phoenix. The Heat acquired Dragic from the Suns in February of 2015. Dragic, DeAndre Jordan and Luc Mbah a Moute are the only players taken in the second round of the 2008 draft who have played all nine years in the NBA.
Dragic, 31, led the Heat with 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and 33.7 minutes while shooting 47.6 percent last season. He was Miami’s most consistent player from start to finish and flourished as a leader guiding the Heat to a 30-11 record in the second half of the season. He is expected return as one of the foundational players as Miami looks to make another deep playoff run next season.
While nobody’s game was more underrated than Dragic’s in that class, the Heat took a player who was one the biggest disappointments of the draft.
Michael Beasley was drafted second overall behind Derrick Rose. But having played for five different teams, Beasley is listed as the 18th pick in the re-draft. Beasley was taken ahead of No. 4 Russell Westbrook, who is considered the best player in the class and the top pick nine years later; and No. 5 Kevin Love, who comes in at No. 2 in the re-draft.
Beasley lasted just two seasons in Miami before traded after the Big Three came together to free up cap space. He then returned in 2013 for two more seasons. He averaged 12.3 points in four year in Miami and spent last season in Milwaukee.
The Heat, though, got a great bargain for their second-round pick, Mario Chalmers, who was taken with 34th overall. Chalmers, who did not play last season after eight year in the league, is listed at No. 16 in the re-draft.
Chalmers played a little more than seven seasons in Miami, starting 383 games, including being the starting point guard for the Heat’s 2012 and 2013 title teams.
After nine seasons, two titles, four trips to the Finals and seven playoff appearances, the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra finally has been formally recognized as one of the best coaches in the league.
Spoelstra was named co-winner of the inaugural Michael H. Goldberg National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award it was announced Sunday. He shares the honor with the Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni.
The award, voted upon by league’s 30 head coaches, is named for the longtime executive director of the coaches association who died earlier this year. The winner of the media voting will be announced June 26.
Dallas Mavericks coach and NBCA President Rick Carlisle recognized Spoelstra and D’Antoni.
“Congratulations to Mike and Erik on their outstanding work this year,” Carlisle said. “And somewhere up above our good friend Michael Goldberg is very proud.”
Spoelstra, 46, guided the Heat to the biggest turnaround in league history, going from 11-30 in the first half of the season to 30-11 in the second half. Miami is the only team in league history to finish at .500 after being 19 games under at some point during that season. The Heat tied with the Bulls for the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference but the final playoff spot went to Chicago because of the tie-breaker.
This, despite Miami leading the league with 328 player games lost to injury or illness.
Spoelstra is 440-282 in his nine seasons as head coach. The closest he ever came to winning a coach of the year award was following the 2012-13 season after Miami finished 66-16. Denver’s George Karl won the media award with a 57-25 record. Spoelstra was runner-up, 214 votes behind. The season ended with the Heat winning their second consecutive title under Spoelstra.
In the other three years of the Big Three in which Miami averaged nearly 53 victories, went to the Finals each year and won the 2012 title, Spoelstra received one Coach of the Year vote. … combined. That was a first place vote in 2010-11. The next year 15 different coaches received at least one vote as did 10 different coaches in 2013-14 .
Heat President Pat Riley believes coaching this team, which lost Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and included seven new players, was a different challenge for Spoelstra.
“There’s always challenges when you have great teams that are supposed to win. … And then there’s this kind of challenge in which I think he’s handled with great experience and by staying the course,” Riley said.
Heat guard Goran Dragic posted a video late in the season endorsing his coach for the top honor.
“In my opinion, he should win Coach of the Year,” Dragic said. “Everybody knows how we started the season and how we’ve bounced back, and a lot of credit goes to Erik.”
D’Antoni, 65, led the Rockets to the third best record in the NBA (55-27) and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference in his first season in Houston. D’Antoni improved Houston’s win total by 14 and put James Harden in position to become a legitimate MVP candidate.
Houston is D’Antoni’s fifth head coaching job.
Other coaches to receive votes included Washington’s Scott Brooks, Memphis’ David Fizdale, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, Milwaukee’s Jason Kidd, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, the Clippers’ Doc Rivers and Utah’s Quin Snyder.
Spoelstra and D’Antoni will receive their trophy at the NBCA annual meeting of head coaches in September.
That means the vote comes down to how the Pacers did against the Hawks or how the Bulls did against the Nets on the final night of the regular season?
How does that make any sense?
If either of those two teams lose, Spoelstra is deemed the league’s best coach because the Heat make the playoffs with the exact same 41-41 record and exact same 30-11 run the second half of the season?
A run that gave the Heat the second-best record in the league over the final three months, behind the Warriors.
We all know that did not happen, the Heat lost out on the postseason on a tie-breaker and Erik Spoelstra is not going to win Coach of the Year. …
But he should.
That award, which will be announced at the first-ever NBA Awards banquet June 26, likely will go to Mike D’Antoni, who improved Houston’s win total by 14 to 55-47 and put James Harden in position to become a legitimate MVP candidate.
But the case for Spoelstra is strong, and not just as some mercy vote to atone for finishing second in 2013 when he led the Heat to a 66-20 record.
Even with that run in which the Heat played in four consecutive Finals, this was Spoelstra’s best coaching job. And while the burden on a coach should not be dismissed when a team has three (or, as he did during two of those Finals runs, four) future Hall of Famers, Spoelstra’s job was so much more difficult, on and off the court, this season.
Spoelstra is my choice not only for taking a team that did not have one All-Star, current or past, from an 11-30 first half to a stunning reversal in the second half of the season, but for the job he did while not blowing a whistle or scheming on a dry-erase board. He kept this players’ spirits buoyed and kept them from turning into the Nets when they were 19 games under .500 entering of Jan. 17.
The award should be narrowed to five candidates: Spoelstra, D’Antoni, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Boston’s Brad Stevens and Utah’s Quin Snyder.
Spoelstra undeniably had the least to work with among the candidates. And it wasn’t close.
Just look at the number of All-Star Games represented on each roster: Spurs 23, Jazz 8, Celtics 6, Rockets 5. …
And if you want to expand the pool to Washington’s Scott Brooks and the Warriors Steve Kerr (whose team had the league’s best record at 76-12), the Wizards have four All-Star appearances on their roster and the Warriors have 20.
Speaking of the best record: That 2012-13 season when Miami won 66 games, Denver’s George Karl won the award with a 57-25 record. Spoelstra was runner-up, 214 votes behind.
But here’s the most inexplicable number surrounding Spoelstra when it comes to Coach of the Year voting: In the other three years of the Big Three, three seasons in which the Heat went to three Finals, won a title and averaged nearly 53 wins a season, Spoelstra received one vote. … combined.
That was a first place vote in 2010-11. The next year 15 coaches received at least one vote, none named Erik Spoelstra. That same thing happened in 2013-14.
Just three times has the league’s coach of the year not had a winning record, and once he had a losing record, Johnny Kerr whose 1966-67 Chicago Bulls were 33-48.
Hubie Brown won the award in 1977-78 when his Atlanta Hawks were 41-41 and the last coach to win the award without a winning record is Doc Rivers, whose 1999-00 Magic team also finished 41-41 and also missed the playoffs by one game. Orlando finished one game behind the No. 8. This season Heat were tied with the Bulls for the eighth-best record in the conference but lost out on a tie-breaker.
The teams were similar in that the Magic became known for their “heart and hustle” that season – a label that certainly could be attached to this season’s Heat – and, though not as dramatic as Miami’s poor start and late-season run, Orlando was once eight games under .500 and rallied late by winning 10-of-15 games.
The dagger for Orlando was on the second-last game of the season when it lost a heartbreaking two-point game to the Bucks. A win that would have put the Magic in the playoffs and even given them a chance at the No. 7 seed.
Former NBA commissioner David Stern agrees with Heat fans angry with the Brooklyn Nets for resting their players against the Chicago Bulls on the final night of the regular season.
The Miami Heat, having defeated the Wizards, needed the Nets to defeat the Bulls to make the playoffs. But Brooklyn sat six players for various reasons, including resting three starters, and lost by 39 points. The Heat and Bulls finished 41-41 and Chicago claimed the final playoff spot in the East on a tie-breaker.
“I have no idea what was in the mind of the executives of the Brooklyn Nets,” Stern said. “None. There was sort of an agreement we had with our fans — and the players picked up on it too — if you’re playing in a game of consequence, that has an impact, which is as good as it gets, (then you shouldn’t rest players).
“Here we are, the Brooklyn Nets are out of the running. They have the lowest record in the sport. But they have an opportunity to weigh in on the final game with respect to Chicago. And they sit their starters? Really? It’s inexcusable in my view. I don’t think the commissioner maybe can, or even should, do anything about it. But shame on the Brooklyn Nets. They broke the pact.”
The Heat also benefited from teams resting players the final week. Miami beat a Cleveland team that sat LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and the Wizards rested guards John Wall and Bradley Beal in that final game.
The difference, though, was Cleveland and Washington were preparing for the playoffs which were starting that weekend. The Nets were on their way to an NBA-worst 20-62 record and had nothing on the schedule until October.
“I think I’m going to give the Nets the benefit of the doubt that they did it without recognizing what they were doing. That’s all,” Stern continued. “The coach wanted to join the club: ‘I’ll show you, I’ll rest my players (too).’
“I think I was listening to (Celtics TV analyst] Tommy Heinsohn that night, saying, ‘What, are they resting them to give them strength to empty their lockers?’”
Stern believes that change will help cut down on players resting.
As commissioner, Stern fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 in 2012 for leaving four players home for a late-November, nationally-televised game against the Heat. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Tony Parker did not play in Miami’s 105-100 victory, the night that some look back as the root to the modern day practice of resting.
The Spurs were playing the final game of a six-game, nine-day road trip and played the previous night in Orlando.