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Published Time: 27.06.2024 - 16:04:20 Modified Time: 27.06.2024 - 16:04:20

'Off-the-radar' pick:NBA Draft grades for Kel'el Ware going to the Heat Kel'el Ware

'Off-the-radar' pick:NBA Draft grades for Kel'el Ware going to the Heat

Ware burst into tears when his name was called Wednesday night. He was surrounded by his family along with IU coach Mike Woodson. 

It was the culmination of an up-and-down journey for Ware that got off to a rocky start as a five-star signee in Eugene. Ware played in all 35 games, but only averaged 15.8 minutes per game with Oregon coach Dana Altman publicly questioning his effort multiple times. 

He averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. 

“We’ve had a lot of conversations,” Altman said at the time. “They haven’t gone as well and haven’t been as constructive as we want them to be. I was disappointed in his effort. I let him know that. He’s gonna have to make some adjustments or I’ve got to make some decisions. His time has been reduced.”

He transferred to Bloomington where he rehabilitated his draft stock. He went from being a fringe first-rounder on most mock drafts at the start of the 2023-24 season to receiving a draft invite to the first round. 

Simon offered a blunt assessment of that past criticism. 

"That's low-hanging fruit,” Simon said. “Kel'el is not that.” 

The Heat’s scouting staff did a detailed dive on Ware that included talking to coaches going back to his high school days in Arkansas. 

“I think we are talking a young player who has an edge to him,” Simon said. “I think he's shown that he's going to put points on the board, he can block shots, rebounds. To me that doesn't seem like a player that fits that description." 

Ware averaged 15.9 points (58.6%), 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season. He picked up All-Big Ten honors from the coaches (third) and media (second) and made the conference’s All-Defensive Team. 

Simon is excited pairing Ware up with the team’s franchise player Bam Adebayo. The three-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive center averaged 19.3 points and 10.4 rebounds last season. 

He’s reportedly going to sign a three-year $166 million extension this summer that would keep him with the organization through the 2028-29 season.  

Miami also doesn’t have a ton of depth at the position locked in for next year as they wait for backup centers Thomas Bryant (another IU product) and Kevin Love to make a decision on their player’s options. 

“I think his skill set fits us, the things he does well are things coach (Erik Spoelstra) is going to be able to use.” Simon said of Ware. “I think a lot of his skill set will be great to play with Bam and as well as when Bam is off the court."