1989-90: A Productive Draft, But An Unproductive Season
The 1989 NBA Draft brought 6-8, 220-pound forward Glen Rice, the fourth overall pick. Rice had left the University of Michigan as the Big Ten Conference's all-time leading scorer and had led the Wolverines to the NCAA Championship that spring. The HEAT also selected Sherman Douglas, a 6-1 guard from Syracuse University, in the second round.
Miami moved from the Midwest to the Atlantic Division for the 1989-90 season. The team improved its record slightly, advancing three games in the win column to 18-64. That total, one game better than New Jersey's, enabled the HEAT to escape the Atlantic Division cellar. Once again the year included some prolonged losing skids: 9 games in November and December, 13 games in December and January, and another 9 games in March and April as the season waned. The HEAT never won more than two games in a row.
The team, however, did manage to turn in occasional highlights. On February 2 the franchise enjoyed its largest margin of victory with a 126-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. In a February 13 game against Chicago, Rony Seikaly scored 40 points, becoming the first player to reach the 40-point mark in HEAT history.
Seikaly was named the NBA's Most Improved Player at season's end. After spending his rookie year adjusting to the league, he began giving some lessons of his own in 1989-90, and he improved his output in nearly every statistical category. He scored 16.6 points per game (up from 10.9 the previous year) and pulled down 10.4 rebounds per contest (up from 7.0 ) to rank sixth in the NBA. Sherman Douglas was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team after averaging 14.3 points and 7.6 assists.
The 1990-91 HEAT continued to show modest improvement but still finished in last place in the Atlantic Division at 24-58. Miami got off to a decent start, with a 5-9 record in November, but the team opened December with a 10-game slide and never righted itself.
Douglas led Miami with 18.5 points and 8.5 assists per game and provided solid floor leadership throughout the year. Glen Rice began to reveal his scoring skills, ringing up 17.4 points per game, while Seikaly continued his labors in the paint, averaging 16.4 points and 11.1 rebounds.