The Heat built the NBA's surprise contender with 3 big trades and next-level scouting

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Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic, and Jimmy Butler.

Mark J. Terrill/AP Images

The Miami Heat have made a surprise run to the NBA Finals.

The core of the Heat has been built through big trades, unheralded draft picks, and undrafted free agents.

Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, and Andre Iguodala were all acquired via trades that saw the Heat give up significant pieces.

The Heat also landed players like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro late in the lottery and signed undrafted rookies like Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn to round out their core.

The Heat's success at building on the fringes sets them up to be a contender for years to come.

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The Miami Heat are in the NBA Finals, back to the NBA's biggest stage just six years after LeBron James left the team to break up the Big Three.

The Heat are not only a surprise contender as a fifth seed, but they are also built, unlike other NBA Finals contenders. The Heat never bottomed-out or tanked to get high draft picks. They did miss on several big free agency signings, getting meetings, but rarely landing the big fish.

Instead, through years of building, keeping key players, and relentless scouting, the Heat have built an NBA Finals team that looks poised to compete for years to come.

Here's how they did it.

Big trade No. 1: Heat trade 4 players and 2 picks for Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic was traded to the Heat in 2015.

Mark J. Terrill/AP Images

The first big trade to help build this Heat core came five years ago and in a different Heat era.

In February 2015, point guard Goran Dragic asked out of Phoenix after being part of a three-headed point-guard attack with the Suns.

The Heat traded four players (Danny Granger, Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, and Shawne Williams) and two first-round draft picks (2017-2019 and 2021) for Dragic, who had made an All-NBA team in 2014.

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