Russell Westbrook almost becomes a Heat in 2008; Pat Riley doesn’t regret decision to pick Michael Beasley

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Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

The Miami Heat had the chance to land Russell Westbrook in the 2008 NBA draft. However, instead of choosing Westbrook, they selected Michael Beasley. Will the Heat be better if they chose Westbrook?

The Heat are now in a rebuilding process after losing Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the recent offseason. Heat president Pat Riley aims to immediately bring his team back to title contention by surrounding Hassan Whiteside with quality players. While discussing the team’s future, Riley remembered the 2008 NBA draft.

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“We missed on that pick in Michael Beasley,” Riley said before correcting himself to soften the blow on Beasley, who was selected after Derrick Rose and before O.J. Mayo and Westbrook with the next two picks. “I mean, we didn’t really miss on it. But the best player was Russell Westbrook.”

Russell Westbrook is currently the lone star of the Oklahoma City Thunder after Kevin Durant left in the recent free agency. As expected, his numbers have tremendously improved as he’s now averaging 31.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 10.9 assists. If the Heat chose him, there is a higher possibility that they’re still a contender until now.

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However, Riley and the Heat don’t seem to regret not selecting Westbrook in the 2008 NBA draft. Recalling in 2010 offseason, the Heat decided to trade Michael Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves for two second-round picks. Moving Beasley gave the Heat enough salary cap space to sign free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and re-signing Dwyane Wade.

With their “Big Three”, the Heat made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and won two championship titles. However, with all the “Big Three” gone, the Heat looked like an ordinary team whose struggling to earn a playoff spot this season. Some fans can’t help but think what would be the Heat’s future with Russell Westbrook on their side.

For coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat could be led to a different direction if they chose Westbrook over Beasley. At some point, it could block the arrival of “Big Three” in South Beach.

“You can’t play that game because then who knows if we would have gotten the Big 3,” Spoelstra said when tossed the hypothetical question Monday of where the Heat might be today had it drafted Westbrook. “Sliding doors, one thing could affect the next.”

The Heat will be facing the Thunder on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Video courtesy: Youtube/FreeDawkins

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