Miami Heat draft Pelle Larsson in second round, sign Keshad Johnson to two-way contract

It's a heartwarming reunion in South Beach, but how long until the two see the court together again?
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament  - Practice Day - West Regional
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Practice Day - West Regional / Harry How/GettyImages

Both of Arizona's top professional prospects will now be a part of the #culture.

The Miami Heat made a trade with the Houston Rockets to draft Arizona Basketball alum Pelle Larsson in the second round of the 2024 NBA Draft with the 44th overall pick. The draft played out differently for Keshad Johnson — who didn't hear his name called — but it ended the same way when the Heat also lured him to South Beach with a two-way contract.

How does Pelle Larsson fit into the Miami Heat?

Pelle Larsson, Chase Hunter
Clemson v Arizona / Harry How/GettyImages

Larsson has a lot of tools in his toolbelt, but he never fully learned how to utilize them all to their peak efficiency in his three seasons under Tommy Lloyd at Arizona. However, he blossomed into a staple in the starting lineup in Tucson and flashed what he could be against his former school in Utah. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor likens him to Desmond Bane and Grayson Allen.

Larsson was just the seventh Swede ever taken in the NBA Draft and the second taken in this year's event. During his final season with Arizona, he posted career-best averages of 12.8 points, 3.7 assists, and 0.9 steals per game while notching 4.1 rebounds per game and shooting 51.9% from the field and 42.6% from 3-point range.

Larsson is far from a finished product, but if anybody can bring out his best it would be Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. The 6-foot-6 wing/small forward prospect was hit-or-miss with his shooting at times and would hesitate to call his own number. If he hopes to latch on with the Heat, he'll need to soak up as much wisdom as possible from Jimmy Butler and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Where Larsson can immediately be a contributor is by doing the "dirty work". He earned a reputation at Arizona for unselfish play and hustling hard, mostly doing his damage in the assists and rebounds categories. If Spoelstra and staff can help him put the pieces together and be more confident pulling the trigger, he could far outplay his draft pedigree.

How does Keshad Johnson fit into the Miami Heat?

Keshad Johnson, Javon Bennett
Dayton v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Though a bit on the smaller side for the forward position at a generous 6-foot-7, Johnson is coming off a career year with Arizona after spending his first four seasons with San Diego State. His defense improved as the season went on, and he paired well with Oumar Ballo as an intimidating combo of big men down low. The Ringer's O'Connor likens him to the Jae Crowder archetype.

In his sole season with Arizona, Johnson posted a career-high 11.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 block, and 0.9 steals per game while shooting 53% from the field and a career-best 38.7% from downtown. He flourished in his only season with higher-level coaching, and the ceiling will certainly be even higher with NBA-caliber coaches.

Johnson proved to be a very capable shooter in Tucson, and now he'll get the chance to prove that he's worth calling up while playing for the Heat's G-League affiliate in the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Nikola Jovic sits atop the depth chart for the Heat at the 4-spot, but there could be a vulnerability behind him with Caleb Martin.

Johnson's pre-existing familiarity with Miami will help him out with the acclimation process of becoming a pro, and it could only be a matter of time before he cracks the lineup in the bench rotation. Besides, if he needs a roommate to offset the Miami cost of living, there's a familiar Swede not far away.

Pre-draft. KJPL. Johnson, Larsson selected three picks apart in The Ringer's Mock Draft. dark

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