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Heat draft Serbian forward Nikola Jovic with 27th pick

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NBA Draft International Prospects Basketball

FILE - Mega's Nikola Jovic tries to score during the ABA League basketball match between FMP and Mega in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. Jovic, of Serbia, is one of the top international prospects heading into this year's NBA draft.

Serbian forward Nikola Jovic was selected by the Miami Heat with the 27th pick in Thursday's NBA draft.

The 19-year-old was born in England and moved to Serbia when he was 9. He has played for Mega Basket in the Serbian league, averaging 11.7 points on 43% shooting in that league this past season.

The 6-foot-11, 210-pounder also has some range, shooting 36% from 3-point range for Mega.

Jovic has already been to a game in Miami, attending a playoff game this spring.

“I was in Miami for almost one month when I came for the draft process," Jovic said. “I think the city is great — nice weather, perfect weather. I met a lot of people there, really good people. So I like Miami, yeah. The funny thing is, it’s the first city I came to when I came to USA, so I think it’s a perfect one."

His name is often confused with Denver's Nikola Jokic, the two-time reigning NBA MVP — also from Serbia.

Jovic said he's hoping to meet Jokic one day.

“It would be crazy," Jovic said.

Miami was the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this past season and went to the conference finals, losing a Game 7 at home to eventual NBA runner-up Boston. The Heat have most of their key pieces under contract for next season, and in many cases beyond, with the core of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry all with multiple years left.

History has shown the No. 27 selection can prove to be a good one. There were five players this past season — all 27th picks — who averaged at least 10 points a game, that list being Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, Washington’s Kyle Kuzma, Utah’s Rudy Gobert, Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic and Boston’s Robert Williams.

Some have even gotten to the Hall of Fame after being drafted 27th, with Dennis Rodman getting enshrined in 2011. Also in the Hall: the player who was the No. 27 pick in the 1964 draft — John Thompson, who didn’t make it for averaging 3.5 points in 74 games with the Celtics, getting there instead for his legendary coaching career at Georgetown.

The Heat do not have a second-round selection. They had to forfeit what would have been their second-rounder this year after the NBA determined they broke league rules regarding timing of free-agent negotiations while working on the deal that brought Lowry to Miami last summer.

Chicago was found to have committed a similar offense last summer as well — in its case, the negotiations led to the deal that brought Lonzo Ball to the Bulls — and also had its second-rounder this year taken away. Those forfeitures by the Heat and Bulls are why this draft is composed of only 58 picks instead of the customary 60.

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The Milwaukee Bucks capitalized on a rare opportunity to pick in the first round of the draft by taking NBA G League Ignite wing MarJon Beauchamp with the 24th overall selection. The 6-foot-6 Beauchamp averaged 15.1 points for the Ignite this season. That was the latest step in a circuitous path to the NBA that included stops at four different high schools and Yakima Valley College. Beauchamp shapes up to be the first opening-round pick the Bucks have kept beyond draft night since taking Donte DiVincenzo 17th overall in 2018.

Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren, Auburn's Jabari Smith and Duke's Paolo Banchero are set to make it a forward-heavy start to the NBA draft. The three top the list of players at the position and overall draft prospects, though it's unclear which might go No. 1 overall. All three possess size and open-floor potential with the ability to step outside. Iowa's Keegan Murray is another key name who is unlikely to have a long wait to be picked after the top three. Other names to watch include Baylor's Jeremy Sochan, Ohio State's E.J. Liddell and Wake Forest's Jake LaRavia. There's also a preps-to-pros prospect in Dominick Barlow from the Overtime Elite developmental program.

The Denver Nuggets selected Kansas guard Christian Braun with the 21st pick of the NBA draft. The 6-foot-6 Braun averaged 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. His 12 points and 12 rebounds helped Kansas beat North Carolina in the national championship game on April 4. He played the entire game. This is the first draft with general manager Calvin Booth as the primary decisionmaker for Denver. The Nuggets also acquired the rights to the 30th pick and final pick of the first round, UCLA freshman Peyton Watson from Oklahoma City.

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