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The Heat aren’t the only team getting big production from undrafted players

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I know we all tend to roll our eyes when someone mentions the Miami Heat, but stick with me here.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2020 NBA Playoffs, we have watched the Heat look borderline unstoppable. With Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic as their main offensive weapons, the team is also seeming to find offense from every spot on their roster. It’s no mistake that they’re in this position. The Heat have done two things extraordinarily well in the past: drafted talented players and developed young talent.

First, the Heat’s drafting the past three years has been incredible.

(Asterisks indicate draft night trade)

2019

  • First round, 13th overall pick: Tyler Herro
  • Second round, 44th overall pick: Bol Bol*

*The Heat had traded the pick to Denver about 20 minutes before they were on the clock, so they drafted Bol as the player the Nuggets wanted.

2018

  • First round, 14th overall pick: Bam Adebayo

2017

  • First round, 10th overall pick: Justice Winslow
  • Second round, 40th overall pick: Josh Richardson

This is about as good of a track record you can have. Herro averaged a strong 13.5 points per game this season, and Adebayo is already one of the most versatile big men in the game. Both of these players were taken on the outer edges of the lottery, a prime spot for role players, but the Heat scored big here.

Secondly, their ability to develop talent has been exceptional. After going undrafted in the 2018 Draft, Kendrick Nunn made the All-Rookie team this year and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. In only his second season with the Heat, Duncan Robinson already looks like one of the best shooters in the league, shooting 46 percent on 6.8 catch-and-shoot threes per game this season.

Why am I torturing you by praising the Heat’s ability to find and develop talent? Well, because it sort of reminds me of the Mavericks.

When you look at the past three drafts by the Mavericks, there’s a lot of noise:

(Asterisks indicate draft night trade)

2019

  • Second round, 37th overall pick: Deividas Sirvydis*

*Traded for Isaiah Roby and two second-round picks

2018

  • First round, fifth overall pick: Trae Young*

*Traded for Luka Doncic

  • Second round, 33rd overall pick: Jalen Brunson
  • Second round, 54th overall pick: Shake Milton*

*Traded for 56th overall pick, Raymond Spalding, and 60th overall pick, Kostas Antetokounmpo

2017

  • First round, ninth overall pick: Dennis Smith Jr.

The Mavericks track record of draft picks isn’t horrible, but where they’ve had their issues is retaining the talent. Luckily for them, the team is getting absurd amounts of production from guys that have flown below the league’s radar.

During the 2019-20 season, the Mavericks scored a league-best 8,776 points. The Mavericks three leading scorers — Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr. — were all first round draft picks in their respective drafts. These three totaled 4,044 points last season, about 46.1 percent of the Mavericks’ total points.

What’s incredible is that the Mavericks fourth, fifth, and sixth leading scorers — Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber — all went undrafted. These three players were huge contributors to the Mavericks offense, scoring 2,143 total points last season. This trio also made 378 combined threes this past season, about 33.3 percent of the Mavericks’ total three-point field goals.

Outside of the Mavericks’ top three scorers, Delon Wright (504 points) was the only other Maverick selected in the first round to score over 500 points this season. After Wright, there’s a surprising drop-off in production from former first round picks.

Mavericks’ former first round draft picks

Former First Round Draft Pick Points in 2019-20
Former First Round Draft Pick Points in 2019-20
Justin Jackson 360
Courtney Lee 107
Trey Burke 96
Wilie Cauley-Stein 67
Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist 12

The Mavericks undrafted players were huge parts of making this offense the most efficient of all time. A large part of that is how well their system favors outside shooting, but these players have undoubtedly made great developments in Dallas.

The importance of this draft cannot be overstated as the Mavericks gear up for a future title run. At #18 and #31, they’ll have two chance to grab high-quality role players. But as the Miami Heat are showing us, the production from guys who the scouts miss can help contribute to deep playoff runs.

With Curry, Kleber, and Finney-Smith all on valuable contracts until the end of 2022, Dallas will continue to look to them as contributors to their championship future. While these players aren’t nearly as young as the Heat’s, these three players are undoubtedly some of the Mavericks’ best current assets.

NOTE: Just because I put in a good word about the Heat’s talent development does not mean I didn’t hysterically laugh at the irony of this.