The last time the Miami Heat turned to the NBA for an international prospect with no peer experience, it turned out to be a multidimensional disappointment.
It was also the only time the Heat left the draft with an international prospect with no peer experience, until last week’s roster of Serbian Nikola Jovic with the No. 27 roster.
Of the many things Heat President Pat Riley hopes for from Jokic, Martin Muursepp 2.0 is not one of them.
To see how the Heat fared with international prospects for what their 35 seasons will be, we have to go back to June 26, 1996.
At that point, with their draft board clear of their preferred prospects, the Utah Jazz decided to exchange their number 25 roster for the Heat for a first-round conditional roster, one that had to fall within the top 20 rosters in one of the next three years or vest in 2000.
With the Heat picking at No. 26 in 1997, No. 22 in 1998, and No. 25 in 1999, the pick eventually passed to the Jazz in 2000. Utah used the roster on guard DeShawn Stevenson, who later went on to have a 13-season NBA career. including beating the Big Three Heat with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
wall sep? A total of 83 games over two NBA seasons with the Heat and Dallas Mavericks, who were out of the league in 1998, after they also passed to the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls, only as a paycheck.
At the time of that 1996 draft, Riley said of the only Estonian to play in the NBA, “From an offensive standpoint. I don’t think there was a better senior in the draft.”
There were, with Jerome Williams, Malik Rose and future Heat Championship forward Shandon Anderson, among those selected after the 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward.
“He’s a solid basketball player,” Riley said of Muursepp at the time. “We felt that if we had the chance to get a 21-year-old player with such versatility, we should do it.”
Unlike Jovic’s various video feeds readily available showing his 19-year-old versatility, all Heat had to offer as a sample of their roster was a 30-second video loop of Muursepp making several plays against foreign competition , video similar to that of the Zapruder movie.
Oh, and it got worse.
Apparently unclear about Muursepp’s contractual obligation, the Heat had to agree to play an exhibition in Israel against Maccabi Tel Aviv, with both the Heat and Muursepp each having to pay $250,000 to secure his international release.
The pinnacle of Muursepp’s Heat career? Arguably a salary that Riley could throw in the February 14, 1997 trade with the Mavericks for Jamal Mashburn.
He finished in a Heat uniform for a total of 27 minutes.
As for other international players who have seen action with the Heat with no American collegiate experience, it has been largely a mixed bag.
Goran Dragic: Arguably the most prolific international player in the Heat’s four decades, drafting directly from Slovenia in the second round of 2008, with time with the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets before arriving to the Heat in 2015.
During his 6 1/2 seasons with the Heat, Dragic was named an All-Star in 2018, helped the Heat to the 2020 NBA Finals and within one game of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals.
Sasha Danilovic: Drafted in the second round by the Golden State Warriors in 1992, the Serbian Guard remained abroad until making his NBA debut with the Heat in 1995, beginning Riley’s tenure with the team. The creative 6-foot-7 wing was acquired commercially in 1994 that Rony Seikaly sent to the Warriors for Billy Owens.
Danilovic came on to start 51 games with the Heat as a prolific scorer before being included in the trade to Mavericks (along with Muursepp) for Mashburn in 1997. After that season, he returned to Europe for the rest of his career.
Vladimir Stepania: Selected in the first round of 2018 by the Seattle SuperSonics, the Republic of Georgia center spent a productive few seasons with the Heat starting in 2001, being particularly efficient with his rebound.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas: The Lithuanian great man, who came to the NBA straight from his native country in 1996 as a Cleveland Cavaliers first-round draft pick, joined former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James on the Heat in 2010-11.
Although he started 51 regular season games and helped the Heat to the 2011 NBA Finals, he never found a foothold alongside the team’s Big Three and retired after that season.
Wang Zhi-Zhi: Drafted by the Mavericks of China in the second round of 1996 and nicknamed “Dodger” by the Heat, the center spent the 2003-04 and ’04-05 seasons with the Heat, appearing in 35 games. From there he returned to play in China again.
Beno Udrih: A 2004 first round squad of the San Antonio Spurs, who entered the NBA straight from Europe. The Slovenian Guard spent most of the second half of the 2015-16 season with the Heat, playing in 36 games and starting five.
Nemanja Bjelica: Drafted by the Washington Wizards in the 2010 second round outside Europe, the Serbian center finished the 2020-21 season with the Heat, playing in 11 regular-season games and two playoff games, without really establishing a foothold. to get.
Zoran Dragic: Acquired as part of a package deal with his brother Goran of the Suns in 2015, Zoran Dragic appeared in 10 games for the Heat before being split with the Boston Celtics the following offseason in a salary cap.
Others from abroad: The Heat has played several other foreign players over the years, but those players, unlike Jovic (and Muursepp), had American college experience, including Precious Achiuwa (University of Memphis), Milos Babic (Tennessee Tech), Manute Bol (Bridgeport ), Luol Deng (Duke), Yakhouba Diawara (Pepperdine), Stephane Lasme (UMass), Chris Silva (South Carolina) and Seikaly (Syracuse).