The Miami Heat enter the new season as underdogs in the Eastern Conference. While some believe they could be a sleeper team to contend with the likes of the Celtics, Cavaliers, and Wizards, most have them finishing around .500 and getting a 6th or 7th seed.
The offseason was one in which the Heat dished out a lot of cash. Some key additions included the signing of PF/C Kelly Olynyk, as well as retaining SG Dion Waiters, SF/PF James Johnson, and SG Wayne Ellington. They spent roughly $150M on these four players, filling up the majority of their salary cap. They also extended third year SG Josh Richardson to a 4 year deal, worth 42 million dollars.
The team is centered around Point Guard Goran Dragic. Dragic averaged 20 points per game last season, while also racking up 6 assists. Dragic is primed for another big season, after winning MVP of his Slovenian summer league. The Heat also have one of the league’s top centers, in 28 year old Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside failed to make the Eastern Conference All-Star Team last season, despite averaging 17 points per game, and leading the NBA in rebounding (14 per game). Many expect him to get the nod this season, as he has only improved over the last 3 seasons.
The Heat’s Depth Chart looks like this…
The Heat also have prized rookie Center Bam Adebayo waiting in the wings. The 14th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft averaged 13 points per game on 59% shooting, along with 8 rebounds per game. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra and General Manager Pat Riley raved about Adebayo’s work ethic and skills. He is expected to make an impact this season.
The Miami Heat’s motto last season was “Culture”. This was based upon their intense workouts, attitude, and guts. The Heat are not afraid of anyone, as they showed by defeating the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers last season. The Heat also finished the season 30-11 in the second half last year, and there is a strong belief that chemistry will translate over to this season. The bottom line is simple; Don’t sleep on Miami. They have a great player progression system in place, and the perfect “next man up” mentality. I expect big things from them this season.
Biggest Strengths: Winning Culture, Head Coach, Depth
Biggest Weakness: Lack of star power
Record Prediction: 47-35: 5th in the Eastern Conference.