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But at least one person who spoke out was not at all appalled by the comparison. That’d be Cheap Dwyane Wade Jersey himself.

“He can be better,” Wade posted on Twitter last week. “America, here is your number 1 pick!”

Very well could happen.

He can be better. America here is your number 1 pick! Ayo @VicOladipo we’re all built from the same cloth 💪🏾 That Tom Crean cloth! https://t.co/ZTXg9VpZU7

— DWade (@DwyaneWade) October 30, 2020
We’ll find out Wednesday night when the NBA Draft commences at 8 p.m. from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn. This year’s draft will be conducted virtually, thanks to the unrelenting coronavirus pandemic.

But while there will be no stage walk or hug from commissioner Adam Silver for Edwards, most NBA draft analysts expect Edwards to be the first player off the board. The Minnesota Timberwolves are holding that selection. If not, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound guard from Southwest Atlanta is expected to be, at the very least, a lottery pick.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be a red-letter day for Edwards and his family. But No. 1? Now that would very big deal.

Even the great Wade had to wait to No. 5.

“I don’t really care about stuff like that,” Edwards said of the prospect of being the first player drafted. “Whatever team’s willing to take the chance on me, I’m just ready to go in and give it my all.”

The Miami Heat has some offensive woes to address
As presently constituted, the Miami Heat are certainly capable of defending its Eastern Conference crown and making another run to the NBA Finals. Who it faces should it get there is another story.

The Los Angeles Lakers were a cut above Miami when the two teams last met in October and the gap grew wider over the offseason when it added two sixth man of the year candidates and Marc Gasol to an already stacked roster.

Across town, the LA Clippers possess an equally imposing roster with two superstars and a very talented supporting cast.

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The task of identifying the Heat’s shortcoming as a legitimate championship contender is quite easier than would be to address it.

Whereas Miami ranks eighth in the league in team defense, it currently stands 22nd on offense.

Comparatively, the defending champion Lakers are 5th on defense and offense.

It has become a regularity when the Heat play that it will go through scoring droughts. Is the answer James Harden?

From a talent standpoint, without question Harden would immediately elevate the Heat’s overall offensive efficiency.

No single player in the league has been as devastating a scorer as Harden since, arguably, Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles in 2013.

There are two problems with adding him, though.

Any package Miami would send to Houston would need to include both rookie sensation Cheap Tyler Herro Jersey and Cheap Duncan Robinson Jersey, the second most efficient 3-point shooter in the league.

Now, would a lineup featuring Cheap Jimmy Butler Jersey James Harden, and Bam Adebayo be enough to unseat the Lakers? Possibly, but it would require Miami to mortgage its foreseeable future as a result. That’s a pretty big gamble.

The second problem is the fit with Harden and the Heat seems less than ideal.

Harden is accustomed to having the ball in his hands for a majority of the shot clock, whereas Miami relies on a heavy amount of ball movement to initiate its offense.

Off the court, his reputation precedes him as a “man of the evening” who has been known to attend a strip club or two. With a burgeoning nightlife like the one South Beach has to offer, could you imagine the level of distraction the Beard would become almost immediately?

People care to make light of the whole “Heat Culture” tagline that was somewhat forced down the national audience’s throat last season in the playoffs, but if there was one thing learned from the pairing of Jimmy Butler-Miami a few summers ago, it is very much a real thing.

It takes a workhorse to thrive in the Pat Riley system.

For every Cheap Alonzo Mourning Jersey, there is a Cheap Hassan Whiteside Jersey or Cheap Jamal Mashburn Jersey who is perfectly content approaching the season in cruise control. Harden seems to fall more comfortably under that second classification of a player.

The easy solution to Miami’s offensive woes would be for Jimmy Butler to distinguish himself as a consistent and dominant go-to scorer. For whatever reason, that hasn’t been the case.

Butler will have his moments, as he did in the NBA Finals, where he can completely take over a game and elicit the type of memories that transformed South Beach once upon a time to Wade county. The following game, however, he falls back into the type of second banana role more befitting of what Philadelphia and Minnesota featured him as during his stops there.

Butler’s current scoring average to date this season is 13.8, leaving him roughly tied with Cheap Goran Dragic Jersey as the second-best option on offense to leading scorer Cheap Bam Adebayo Jersey at 18.6.

Miami has a decision to make.

With an equal blend of exceptional young and veteran talent, will the franchise maintain an eye for the future or trade-off its young assets for a player along the lines of Victor Oladipo and really swing for the championship fences?

For now, it appears unlikely the Heat will be able to have its cake and eat it too.

And, if there is one thing everyone knows about team president Pat Riley, it’s that the word patience is not in his vocabulary. It was a fork in the road moment when Miami first learned it lost Cheap LeBron James Jersey back in 2014 and Riley was left to pick up the pieces.

It was a fork in the road moment in 2001 when the team had just traded Jamal Mashburn and PJ Brown for Cheap Eddie Jones Jersey and Anthony Mason before getting sucker-punched with the news that team centerpiece Alonzo Mourning had suddenly been diagnosed with a rare life-threatening kidney disease.

NEXT: NBA: 5 way-too-early Most Improved Player candidates for 2021
Yet again, we have reached another fork in the road moment. What will Pat Riley do?

Edwards going first would be an especially big deal to the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs have never had a men’s basketball player go No. 1 in the draft. Even Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins – the “Human Highlight Film” — went third to the Utah Jazz, who promptly traded him to the Hawks.

While Georgia basketball doesn’t have the greatest of track records when it comes to on-court success, the Bulldogs have held their own over the years with the draft. They’ve had seven first-rounders, including four top-10 picks topped by Wilkins’ selection in 1982. Georgia’s other first-rounders include Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (No. 8 in 2013), Jarvis Hayes (10, 2003), Willie Anderson (10, 1998),Cheap Alec Kessler Jersey (12, 1990), Vern Fleming (18, 1984) and Jumaine Jones (27, 1999).

“He wants to be number one and I want him to be number one,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “But at the end of the day, the thing I want for Anthony Edwards is to be in the right environment, where he has a head coach that’s going to invest in him in a big way. … My hope (is) he gets a coaching staff that’s going to spend time with him.”

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Hawks want to win, not rebuild
Edwards going No. 1 would make him first Atlanta citizen to do that since Dwight Howard in 2004. He’d also be just the third Georgian to receive that distinction, joining Kwame Brown of Brunswick in 2001.

What else does it mean? Zion Williamson, the top pick of the 2019 draft, signed a four-year contract reportedly worth $44.4 million. The No. 10 selection of last year’s draft, Kevin Porter, inked a $10 million deal. So, Wednesday will be a life-changing moment regardless of draft position.

Whatever that happens to be, it will represent a blessing not only to Edwards, but also to his sister, Antoinette, and brother, Antoine. They raised Edwards after their mother, Yvette Edwards, and grandmother, Shirley Edwards, died from separate illnesses in the same year not long after Anthony Edwards entered high school.

“I just want to show them that I’m a great kid off the court,” Edwards said of the NBA. “I’m always smiling, always happy, and I’m just a good spirit. … I’m ready to go and I’ll just be happy with wherever I fall.”

As usual, there was a pretty good debate raging in the days leading into Wednesday’s draft if, in fact, Edwards should be No. 1. There is sentiment that perhaps it should be James Wiseman of Memphis or LaMelo Ball of California, among others.

Meanwhile, Edwards said he worked out only for Minnesota, Golden State and Charlotte. Those happen to be the teams selecting one, two and three, pending potential trades.

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The abbreviated offseason amid the COVID-19 pandemic did not include a summer league or allow for weeks of workouts in the Miami Heat’s player development program. Instead, big man Cheap Precious Achiuwa Jersey began his rookie season just five weeks after the NBA Draft.

Achiuwa, 21, only had two weeks of team practices and two preseason games to prepare for his first regular-season NBA game.

But Achiuwa, who was selected with the 20th overall pick in last month’s draft, is apparently a fast learner because he already looks comfortable in his role off the Heat’s bench, averaging 9.5 points on 72.7 percent shooting, three rebounds and one assist in 16.6 minutes in the first two games of the season. Miami has outscored opponents by 10 points in the 33 minutes Achiuwa has played.

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“He has really improved just in the two weeks that we’ve worked with him,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, with the Heat back at practice Sunday in preparation for Tuesday’s home matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. “We all can’t imagine how much further he’d be if he had a normal summer league and full summer player development program and September prep. He’s a quick study and he’s very diligent and committed to the work and studying film and getting with the coaches. He picks up things very quickly. That’s probably a skill onto itself.”

What exactly is Achiuwa’s role? It’s similar to the one Heat All-Star center Cheap Bam Adebayo Jersey had as a rookie in the 2017-18 season, when he averaged 6.9 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.8 minutes per game.

Achiuwa’s (6-8, 225) role is to provide energy off of Miami’s bench on both ends of the court. He helps the offense as a solid screener and will score most of his points as an athletic roll man, off offensive rebounds or in transition, and Achiuwa is already a big part of the Heat’s defensive scheme when he’s on the court because of his ability to defend multiple positions.

“I’m here to play winning basketball,” said Achiuwa, who finished Friday’s Christmas Day win over the New Orleans Pelicans with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and one block in 19 minutes. “Whatever it takes to win games, that’s what I’m down to do. Whatever is asked of me by the coaching staff, that’s what I’m willing to do, 100 percent. That’s what I’m doing. They’ve asked me to do the stuff that I’m doing, and I’m doing it to the best of my abilities.”

Achiuwa has been effective in his role to start the season, with each of his eight made baskets coming from inside the restricted area. He has yet to attempt a shot from outside the paint, as three of his eight makes have came on rolls to the basket and one has come on a second-chance opportunity off an offensive rebound.

Five of Achiuwa’s eight baskets have come on assists from veteran guard Cheap Goran Dragic Jersey, and three of Dragic’s assists have come on pick-and-roll sets with Achiuwa diving to the rim.

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“One of the first times I walked into the facility, he was one of the first guys that said something to me,” Achiuwa said of Dragic. “I think the first thing he actually said was, ‘Hey, I need to work out with you.’ That was the first thing he said the first time he saw me. He was like, ‘We need to work on that pick and roll lob.’ That was the first conversation he ever had with me.

“On the practice court, his seat is right next to mine so we’re always in constant communication. He’s always telling me what to do, angles, reads, stuff like that, just positioning. I really, really appreciate him a lot just because his voice is constantly in my ear.”

Achiuwa’s impressive defensive versatility was on display late in Friday’s win over the Pelicans, as he served as 6-11 center Steven Adams’ primary defender for a few minutes in the fourth quarter and then switched onto 6-6 forward Zion Williamson later in the period.

It’s a very small sample size, but the Heat has posted a quality defensive rating of 97.2 with Achiuwa on the court to begin the season. To put that number into perspective, the Bucks finished last season with the NBA’s top defensive rating at 102.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.

“He’s like a sponge,” Heat center Cheap Meyers Leonard Jersey said of Achiuwa. “He’s very attentive. He wants to be better. He wants to be that versatile player who can guard like Bam, switch pick and rolls, roll to the rim on the offensive end and play above the rim with a guy like Goran and the rest of our guards. So I think that if he keeps it simple, he’s going to be just fine.”

For now, it seems like Achiuwa has earned himself a consistent role in the Heat’s rotation as a rookie. How? In large part because he knows his role.

And it helps to be playing as part of a second unit that includes experienced veterans like Cheap Andre Iguodala Jersey, Cheap Avery Bradley Jersey and Dragic. The four-man combination of Achiuwa, Bradley, Dragic and Iguodala was a plus-9 in the 11 minutes they played together Friday.

“It’s a great luxury, particularly with that unit, that he can lean on the veteran experience of Goran, Avery, Andre, who are super-high IQ players on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “And they communicate. And they can talk him into spots, and tell him where to go, what to do, and where he can just play to his strengths right now.”

JIMMY BUTLER INJURY UPDATE
Spoelstra said after Sunday’s practice that there’s no new update on Heat All-Star wing Cheap Jimmy Butler Jersey injured ankle. After playing 16 first-half minutes, Butler missed the second half of Friday’s win over the Pelicans because of right ankle stiffness.

“I don’t have an update today,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll just continue to get him treatment, and then we’ll put together a plan.”

The Heat will practice again Monday before hosting the Bucks on Tuesday as part of a two-game back-to-back “series” against Milwaukee that ends with another matchup between the two teams on Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Butler’s status for those game has yet to be determined, with more clarity expected Monday when the Heat is required by the NBA to issue a 5:30 p.m. injury report.

Butler tweaked his right ankle during Wednesday’s season-opening loss to the Orlando Magic.

“Each situation is different,” Spoelstra said when asked whether the Heat will take a cautious approach with Butler. “Each player and each injury, and you want to treat it with most intelligent response. I thought that was a no-brainer the other night. And then we’ll just see how his body responds with these days of treatment.”

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When the Miami Heat turned to smaller ball last season, they turned at power forward to Cheap Jae Crowder Jersey, all 235 pounds of him. He fought the good, undersized fight all the way to the NBA Finals.

With Crowder lost to the Phoenix Suns in free agency, the initial ensuing approach by coach Erik Spoelstra was to go down even further in weight class, opening with 210-pound Moe Harkless alongside Bam Adebayo in the power rotation in Monday’s preseason opener.

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As in a player listed by the Heat as 20 pounds lighter than Jimmy Butler, five pounds lighter than Cheap Duncan Robinson Jersey.

According to Basketball Reference’s positional breakdowns, Harkless played 9 percent of his minutes last season at power forward, 57 percent at small forward and 34 percent at shooting guard. Over his career, only 19 percent of his minutes have come at the four.

To Spoelstra, a position is an arcane designation amid his position-less approach. Unless, of course, you’re the one designated to initially defend Zion Williamson in your Heat preseason debut.

To Harkless, who joined the Heat in free agency last month, it is a challenge he willingly accepts, but one that requires acclimatization.

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“It’s different,” the 27-year-old said. “Honestly, throughout my career, even when I played the four . . . we’d kind of switch up the matchup a little bit. But I have no problem. It’s going to be a challenge to consistently guard guys giving up weight, but it’s a challenge that I’m up for.

“I have my advantages when it comes to length and speed, so I just use those advantages. Like [Monday], obviously I was giving up weight, but I was using my feet, using my arms and using my length to make things hard for him. Make it hard for him to catch the ball. That’s something that I continue to work on. That’s what they’re asking me to do, so it’s just something that I got to be good at.”

Typically, when players get a sense of their positional assignments, they adjust their training. There were times Cheap Justise Winslow Jersey attempted to get bigger when playing in the frontcourt, other times when he worked on agility when anticipating time in the backcourt. But with the quick turnaround between seasons, there barely was time for Harkless to look himself in the mirror, let alone re-sculpt.

Whether that means continuing to develop their young core and getting them to reach an even higher level or acquiring a second superstar (Cheap Bam Adebayo Jersey is an elite big man but he’s not quite on that level… yet) remains to be seen, but the latter is certainly a possibility, especially for a team that operates as the Heat have in the past, making win-now moves when they have presented themselves.

Plus, with a major Miami target Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the Heat kept cap flexibility this offseason to make a run at next summer, deciding to extend with the Milwaukee Bucks, Pat Riley and Co. could be even more focused on pivoting to find another superstar as soon as possible.

Harden could wind up being that guy.

Of course, trading for Harden won’t come cheap for whichever team does pull off the major acquisition, and Miami is no different.

So what kind of trade package could the Heat put together for the 31-year-old?

For starters, Miami would need to put together roughly $33.0 million in salaries for a Harden trade to be legal.

That would mean a Miami trade package for Harden would have to include Cheap Kelly Olynyk Jersey (making $13.6 million this season) and Andre Iguodala ($15.0 million), whose combined salaries add up to $28.6 million.

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Harkless, who is listed at 6 feet 7, said that nine seasons into his career, he believes he is what he is from a physique standpoint.

“I think you’ve got to be comfortable in your own skin,” he said. “I’m not going to change who I am. I’ve tried to put on weight before, but a lot of times it just doesn’t work, and I don’t really feel comfortable playing too heavy. I find where I’m comfortable at and I do that.

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“I don’t think I lack strength. I feel like I’m pretty strong, especially for somebody my size. So I just go in confidently with that.”

Though Monday’s debut that had him up against both Williamson and foul trouble, Harkless sees better days ahead once Cheap Jimmy Butler Jersey, Goran Dragic and Cheap Andre Iguodala Jersey are added to the mix. Those three were held out of Monday’s preseason opener, but are expected to play Friday when the Heat close out their two-game exhibition schedule, against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa.

“I think I fit pretty good,” Harkless said. “Obviously, we have to figure out how to make things work in harmony. But I think we’ll get there. I feel like we’re not far off from playing well. We didn’t have our whole team out there, either. I think I fit in really well still and I think as time goes on, it’s only going to be a better fit.”