Predicted finish: 3rd in the East (1st in the Southeast, third in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 5th in the East
No team opened more eyes in Orlando than the Miami Heat. Though Denver had quite the run in their own right, even they couldn’t match what the Heat did. A 12-3 eastern conference playoff record, including a gentleman’s sweep of the favourite Milwaukee Bucks. Then this offseason the team made the correct decision of maxing out Bam Adebayo, bringing in Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless and getting the perfect culture draft pick of Precious Achiuwa. The only real negative in South Beach is they lost Jae Crowder but otherwise with everyone healthy after running out of gas in the bubble, this team is a force to be reckoned with this season.
The big question for the franchise: Was the bubble a fluke?
For them to be a fluke, something about their on-court performance had to of been either enhanced by the bubble or, not repeatable once again. In the way they dominated the Bucks and Celtics and then took the Lakers to six with basically everyone hurt, I just don’t see why that isn’t repeatable. Sure maybe the Bucks win an extra game with real homecourt but what Miami did was expose their playstyle, something that wasn’t fixable regardless of where the game was played. As high as I am on this team though, people will still have questions until they repeat it this season. With players as good as Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Bam and the crew to go with maybe the best coach in basketball, I’m not sure how anyone can argue they excelled exclusively because of the bubble.
One move I want to see them make: Improve their front court depth/ Trade for James Harden
If Giannis signs the super max or some type of extension, they need to go get James Harden. I get that bailing on a guy like Herro and/or Duncan Robinson would be tough but, this is James Freaking Harden we’re talking about. Him in that system with Bam screening for him, Butler and the Heat Culture would be unstoppable. However, if Giannis doesn’t sign the max I’d keep my options open because I think Pat Riley would have a real chance of luring him if the Greek Freak came to free agency. In that scenario, I’d use Meyers Leonard and Kendrick Nunn to simply improve the front court, forward or centre spot with Bam. In the playoffs this team was horrendous without Bam on the floor so bringing in a guy who could hold his own on the floor without Adebayo and then play with him would be a beautiful thing for the Heat. No matter what, whether it be Harden, Giannis or that upgrade, I just feel like this team has something up their sleeve. Riley and the front office are always trying to improve so stay tuned.
Offseason Grade: B
The only real negative for them was losing Jae Crowder and with the integral role he played, I just couldn’t give them higher than a B. I love bringing back Dragic and going and getting Harkless, Bradley and Achiuwa, don’t get me wrong. But, Crowder’s defence, shooting and mentality was such a big piece to this team last year that I just don’t see them replacing it with Harkless or a rookie.
Young player I’m excited for: Tyler Herro
I mean was there another option? The way he played in the playoffs has to have Heat fans ecstatic, it really seems like there’s something here. What’s most fascinating about him is the better he plays to start this year, the more intriguing his value is. To bring either a Giannis or Harden, Herro would have to leave for either salary cap or trade value purposes. But if he comes out and averages almost 20, could Miami really move him? It’s a mind blowing thought experiment on young potential versus a known great quantity that I want him to go off this season just for the fact of getting to see how Miami handles it.
Miami is in a fascinating place. They feel a move away right now and we all know Riley is far from shy when it comes to building a championship level team. Right now they’re my favourites in the East and depending on the move, could maybe sway me to like them in the Finals a little more. Regardless, the Heat have something special going and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this franchise.