Justise Winslow was there for the Detroit Pistons at No. 8.
Stan Van Gundy went a different direction.
The former Heat coach, who now holds that title as well as president for the Pistons, passed on the Duke product to take Stanley Johnson, a swingman from Arizona. Winslow then slipped past the Charlotte Hornets, which passed on a six draft pick offer from Boston to take Frank Kaminsky. The Heat then got the same offer from Boston and Pat Riley briefly considered it, but he and his scouting staff agreed to take Winslow.
So far, that's worked out pretty well.
Winslow leads the Heat in plus-minus, and he's getting most of Miami's fourth quarter minutes at the small forward spot.
How does he compare to Johnson?
Winslow is playing more minutes (28.3 to 20.6), even though Detroit has been without rotation wing Jodie Meeks and former starting guard Brandon Jennings. Johnson is averaging more points (8.1 to 7.5, and 14.1 to 9.5 on a per-36 minute basis), with Winslow averaging more rebounds and assists (but about the same on a per-36 minute basis).
The big difference, and this shouldn't surprise, is that Johnson is shooting a lot more -- 14.6 attempts per 36 minutes compared to 8.2 for Winslow. What may surprise a little more, because Johnson was considered by most to be a little more offensively polished, is that Winslow is shooting a higher percentage (46.4 to 38.5). Johnson has really struggled from behind the arc, shooting just 21.1 percent.
Johnson, like Winslow, has the tools to be an excellent defender, though Winslow has gotten more notice for his work so far.
They know each other's capabilities quite well.
After Tuesday's practice, Winslow said he first realized he had a knack for defense during his first year with the Team USA U-17's, on which Johnson was a teammate.
"I just understood my role on that team," Winslow said. "We had a lot of guys who could score. My job, and a couple of my teammates -- me, Stanley Johnson, some other guys -- our role was just to come off the bench, bring energy and play defense. That was kind of when we understood that, specifically me and him, we had a knack for defense."
They spent some time together during the draft process.
Is Winslow watching how other rookies are performing?
"For the most part," Winslow said. "I would say more guys that I'm friends with, Stanley, Tyus (Jones), Jahlil (Okafor), Kelly Oubre, Sam Dekker, just watching them a little bit closer than other guys."
Did Winslow expect Erik Spoelstra to give him this much responsibility so early?
"I mean, I don't know," Winslow said. "I'll just accept whatever task they give me, and accept whatever role they give me. I didn't really know what to expect coming into the season. I'm just trying to accept every challenge and meet it."
That has included matchups with Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Paul George... and LeBron James. Winslow said he's trying to study "the small details" of each superstar.
"It's great," Winslow said. "Those guys are guys that me and a lot of my friends looked up to growing up. But at this point we're peers. So I don't put those guys on a pedestal."
Winslow believes that he would have found his role on any team, but knows that he might have been expected to score more early somewhere else. (Aside: Many scouts believe he would have scuffled in one of those other situations.)
"I think it's a great fit, an organization that has a winning culture, I think that's probably the biggest thing," Winslow said. "I think that's something that really fit me well, coming from high school, coming from Duke, so I think it was a great fit for to land here."
Winslow wasn't aware that his shooting percentage has increased significantly from the preseason.
More comfortable with looks?
"I don't even know what the jump is, but I think I'm taking the same shots," Winslow said. "I think I'm getting better every day shooting the ball. So I feel confident."
He's showing more confidence in other ways. He trash-talked Udonis Haslem, of all people, during practice "just to keep things competitive." And he said that the shooting competition was rigged "because D-Wade won. I did once, but he got back to the top, so it's rigged."
And when told of his plus-minus, he smiled:
"Just put me on the court, man."
He'll be out there against a old -- but still young -- friend Wednesday in Detroit.