The Miami Heat is a well-known team nowadays, but it wasn’t always that way. The franchise first launched in 1988; though what quickly followed were years of mediocrity. Only after several bold decisions, NBA Draft moves, and team changes — thanks mainly to Pat Riley — did the organization start taking off.
Now, they are one of the most recognizable franchises in the NBA, with three championships and numerous basketball legends to their name. Here are some of the Heat’s best decisions, exclusively on NBA Draft night.
5. Caron Butler
After being the No. 10 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Caron Butler became one of the most notable rookies in his class. He eventually made the All-Rookie Team, averaging excellent debut numbers despite his team missing the playoffs.
A piece of blockbuster Heat news came out with Butler’s name when he became part of the trade package sent to the Los Angeles Lakers for NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. Butler is still known as one of Miami’s best NBA Draft picks. He eventually became a two-time All-Star with the Washington Wizards. During his 14-year career, he also won a championship in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks — interestingly, against the team that drafted him.
4. Steve Smith
The Heat drafted Steve Smith fifth overall in 1991. He quickly became one of the young players that propelled the relatively new organization t0 their first playoffs stint. Although they were swept by the defending champions Chicago Bulls, Smith enjoyed a productive season as a rookie starter.
Smith’s best season with the Heat was his last one, 1993-94, where he would average 17.3 points and 5.1 assists per game. He found success after his 3-year stint with Miami, becoming an All-Star in 1998 with the Atlanta Hawks and establishing himself as an excellent three-point shooter. He then also won the 2003 championship with the San Antonio Spurs.
3. Rony Seikaly
Rony Seikaly will always have a special place in Miami Heat fans’ hearts. The Syracuse product is most known for being the franchise’s first-ever draft pick in 1988. After being selected No. 9 overall in the NBA Draft, Seikaly shortly became one of the league’s top centers. As a result of six productive and memorable seasons in Miami, he remains as the team’s third all-time leader in rebounds and fourth all-time in blocks.
Seikaly wasn’t heavy on the accolades, although he was named the Most Improved Player in 1990. He has, however, earned the nickname “Spin Doctor” because of his trademark low post spin moves.
2. Glen Rice
Miami drafted Glen Rice with the fourth pick in the 1989 NBA Draft. Coming in as a rookie, the Michigan product was immediately tasked with much of the team’s scoring load. Throughout his memorable stint with the Heat, Rice eventually became the team’s leading scorer. He then led the team to its first playoffs during the 1991-92 season against prime Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
The 6’8” small forward would then enjoy a 15-year-career that saw him earn three All-Star selections with the Charlotte Hornets and a 2000 NBA title with the Lakers. Despite spending only six years in Miami, Rice established himself in the franchise’s record books, finishing second in field goals and third in all-time threes and points.
1. Dwyane Wade
No. 3 on the scoreboard but No. 1 in your heart, the Miami Heat legend is not only the most decorated player in team history but also decisively their best draft pick to date. Selected at No. 5 overall during the 2003 NBA Draft, Dwyane Wade shortly became one of the league’s most renowned legends.
The Marquette alum established himself as one of the hardest players to guard, utilizing a signature one-two step that struck fear in any defender. Aside from his effectiveness in drawing fouls, Wade is most known for being one of the best slashers in the game.
The 13-time All-Star recently retired after a legendary 17-year career that saw him garner numerous All-NBA teams and franchise records, including games, minutes played, assists, steals, and points.