Heat drafted Serbian forward Nikola Jovic with the 27th pick

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FILE – Nikola Jovic of Mega tries to score during the ABA League basketball match between FMP and Mega in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, January 29, 2022. Jovic of Serbia is one of the top international prospects in the NBA draft this year. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, Archive)

SHOVEL

Serbian forward Nikola Jovic was selected by the Miami Heat with the 27th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

The 19-year-old was born in England and moved to Serbia when he was 9 years old. He played for Mega Basket in the Serbian league, averaging 11.7 points on 43% shooting in that league last season.

The 6-foot-11, 210-pounder also has some range, shooting 36% of the 3-point range for Mega.

Jovic has already been to a game in Miami, participating in a playoff game this spring.

“I was in Miami for almost a month when I came in for the recruiting process,” said Jovic. “I think the city is great – nice weather, perfect weather. I met a lot of people there, really nice people. Miami, yes. The funny thing is, it’s the first city I came to when I came to the US, so I think it’s perfect.”

His name is often confused with Nikola Jokic of Denver, two-time NBA MVP – also from Serbia.

Jovic said he hopes to meet Jokic one day.

“It would be crazy,” Jovic said.

Miami was the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and went into the conference finals, losing a Game 7 at home to eventual NBA runner-up Boston. The Heat have most of their key players under contract for the upcoming season and in many cases beyond, with core Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry all with several years left.

History has shown that selection No. 27 can be good. There were five players last season – all in the 27th pick – averaging at least 10 points per game, with Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, Washington’s Kyle Kuzma, Utah’s Rudy Gobert, Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic and Robert Williams. , from Boston.

Some even made it to the Hall of Fame after being drafted 27th, with Dennis Rodman being enshrined in 2011. Also in the Hall: the player who was the 27th pick in the 1964 draft – John Thompson, who failed by an average of 3, 5 points in 74 games with the Celtics, getting there for his legendary coaching career at Georgetown.

The Heat don’t have a second round selection. They had to forgo what would be this year’s second round after the NBA ruled they broke league rules regarding the timing of free agent negotiations while working on the deal that brought Lowry to Miami last summer.

Chicago also committed a similar offense last summer – in his case, negotiations led to the deal that brought Lonzo Ball to the Bulls – and also had its second round this year withdrawn. Those Heat and Bulls folds are why this draft is made up of just 58 picks instead of the usual 60.

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