The Miami Heat took a rare international turn at Thursday night’s NBA draft with the selection of Serbian forward Nikola Jovic at No. 27.
The move to the 6-foot-10 outside-shooting forward came as somewhat of a surprise, with leading collegiate prospects such as Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell, Kentucky guard TyTy Washington and Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler still on the board.
Jovic, 19, began his basketball career late, after first excelling in water polo.
While Jovic, who is listed at 227 pounds, still needs to fill out to an NBA, he would arrive as an NBA-level 3-point shooter.
Defense had been a concern with Jovic, who figures to set up as a developmental prospect, possibly to spend time with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
The Heat currently are somewhat limited at power forward, with P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris and Caleb Martin all impending free agents.
According to the NBA’s draft guide: “Nikola Jovic is a talented young shot maker whose ability to score from all over the floor has stood out at times as he’s transitioned to the professional level full time with Mega Mozzart (Serbia).”
That analysis continues:
“Scoring in bunches some nights with promising footwork, touch, and instincts, Jovic was prolific in spurts offensively. . . . While he has room to get stronger, more comfortable using his frame against smaller defenders, and steadier with the ball to help him create higher percentage shots, his ability to score with touch from all over the floor and pass on the move at his size is certainly intriguing.
“Competing on the defensive end with more urgency as the year wore on, Jovic still has room to develop both on and off the ball. While he showed some instincts on the glass and chipping in as a rim protector in spurts, his consistency remains a work in progress.”
The cap hit for next season for the No. 27 pick will be $2.2 million.
The Heat, as of their No. 27 selection, did not hold a second-round pick Thursday, having forfeited a selection due to what the NBA rules was premature free-agent contact with last summer’s signing of Kyle Lowry.
This story will be updated.