Another Draft Day Steal?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

With two consecutive years of drafting gems at #10 (Caron Butler) and #5 (Dwyane Wade), can the Heat's good fortunes continue now that they have the #19 pick? Jameer Nelson will work out for Miami soon. If he is available to the Heat, could he be the next gem? Could Nelson be the Heat's point guard of the future?

At six feet and zero inches, he's among the shortest players in the draft. But he's also among the most experienced. Nelson participated in the pre-draft camp in Chicago last year before deciding to return to school, where he led St. Joseph's to a remarkable season. Even a year ago, he was the leader with 6.3 assists in the pre-draft camp. He is quick, smart, and a good shooter. He doesn't turn the ball over and he runs the offense fluidly.

If he is available at #19, the Heat should be at least as pleased to pick him up as they were to pick up Butler when he slipped to #10 two years ago. With a starting five of Nelson, Wade, Butler, Lamar Odom, and Brian Grant, with Eddie Jones, Udonis Haslem, and Rasual Butler coming off the bench, the Heat are just one mediocre center away from being a championship contending team.

If they can also pick up Mark Blount as a free agent, they have the ability to do something special next year. Wade is a more natural two-guard though he can play point when Stan Van Gundy wants to go big. Having a veteran sharpshooter like Jones coming off the bench will be a great boon both to the Heat and to Jones, as he will be able to focus on his shooting and defense in active spurts and usually against the other team's bench. He could have a career year and be a potential sixth-man of the year.

It's a good time to be a Heat fan.

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Barry Jackson ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: The Heat worked out former University of Miami forward Darius Rice on Thursday, but general manager Randy Pfund was noncommittal about the team's level of interest.Rice worked out against Oregon's Luke Jackson, and Rice shot the ball well, Pfund said. ''We wanted to bring him in because he's a local guy,'' Pfund said. ``It was the right thing to do. He's a very, very good shooter. The question is what position does he play. He can play either forward position offensively, but is he going to guard [small forwards or power forwards]?'' Asked if he expects Rice will be selected in the June 24 draft, Pfund said he didn't know. The Heat, working out several players, is planning to audition St. Joseph's point guard Jameer Nelson, who could be available with Miami's 19th overall pick.