Tha Sports Junkies 101

Miami Heat Offseason Needs

Miami Heat Keith Allison/ via


Off Season In Miami

After rescuing themselves from the cellars of the NBA standings, the Miami Heat (41-41) fell just one game short of making the playoffs this season. In a season of ups and downs that saw Miami fall as many as 19 games below .500 (they were 11-30 at the halfway point of the season), there were also calls for coach Erik Spoelstra to win NBA Coach of the Year. That’s pretty good considering the rut they were in halfway through the season. It’s going to take a lot for Miami to transform from a team on the outside looking in to a perennial playoff powerhouse like they once were (we still miss you D-Wade), but they’ve got to start somewhere.

A Miami Heat Power Forward

I didn’t agree with the Bam Adebayo pick. There I said it. With John Collins still on the board, Adebayo simply wasn’t the best available player at his position. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what Collins did in the NBA Summer League. I think this kid will be an All-Star someday. That’s beside the point, however. It remains to be seen whether or not Adebayo can come into his own and transform his game to a point where Coach Spo feels comfortable starting, or even playing him up front. He has a lot of raw talent and is a force around the rim, but he’s a significant downgrade from the last big name to start at the four for Miami, Chris Bosh.

Considering James Johnson was the most frequent player out of many to start at power forward in Miami last season, it’s still a good sign that they drafted a power forward at all. The Heat also added Kelly Olynyk in the offseason, a player who plays hard and tough (maybe sometimes a little too tough.) Olynyk figures to backup the Leaning Tower of Whiteside at center. Last year’s NBA leader in rebounds, Hassan Whiteside needs a little help protecting the rim. He did seem to need help some times, especially when Miami would send out four players under 6’10” plus Whiteside, who is 7’0″.

The Heat have been at their best when they have dominant big men playing down low. Guys like Anthony Mason, Chris Bosh, P.J. Brown, Alonzo Mourning, and of course Shaquille O’Neal. Let’s bring those days back. Whiteside is one half of Miami’s frontcourt equation; now they just need the other half.

A Healthy Justise Winslow

Winslow appeared in just 18 games last season before being sidelined for the remainder of the season following a wrist surgery. He started 15 of those 18 games and averaged 10.9 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Although Miami struggled more in the first half of the season, their starting lineup was arguably more concrete then. After losing Winslow, the starting small forward position became a revolving door of players including Rodney McGruder, Josh Richarson, and Wayne Ellington. While those three players certainly supplied talent and some good moments here and there, they were brought in to play key bench roles, not start. The Heat expect Winslow to be ready for the start of this upcoming season. If he can stay healthy, Miami can move one step closer to keeping a consistent lineup night in and night out.

More Backcourt Help

Re-signing Dion Waiters is huge for Miami. Once he and Dragic go to the bench, however, it gets a bit iffy. Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson are solid role players like I mentioned, but there’s a noticeable dip in production. Unrestricted free agents Derrick Rose and Tony Allen could provide veteran leadership and a spark off the bench. Rose may have proven this past season that he’ll never be able to play a full season as a starting point guard in the NBA again. That could be perfect for Miami, who already have an every night point guard in Groan Dragic. Adding Rose would also force backup guard Tyler Johnson to step up his game if he wants to keep his spot in the rotation. Allen, a defensive specialist, would be perfect for late-game scenarios where defense is needed more than offense.

Other guys who could provide veteran leadership off the bench are guards Ty Lawson and Monta Ellis. Ellis has shown that he can still score at will when he wants to. Lawson, who has had his troubles in the past, could use a change of scenery after a rocky tenure with Sacramento. The Heat already have an abundance of 3-point shooting specialists, and should look more for playmakers in the free agent market.

To Move on From Chris Bosh and Believe in Themselves

With the official departure of Chris Bosh, the Heat can officially be dubbed a “young team.” The handling of the Bosh crisis was mediocre at best. While we all wish Bosh the best and hope he gets better, it’s time to move on from a basketball standpoint. With no projected starters over 31, Miami has a young core to build around. Youngsters Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, and Dion Waiters (How is he 25? Wow.) should lead Miami back to relevance. Despite being a young team, they don’t lack experience. With the exception of Winslow who is entering his third year in the league, all of their starters have been in the NBA for at least five years.

Miami needs to capitalize on the talent they have while they still can. They can avoid the dreaded first to worst plague that often happens when a franchise’s star moves on; they just have to build around the young talent that they still have. Coach Spo is still a top 10 coach in the NBA. Hassan Whiteside should make his first career All-Star game this season. Dion Waiters is experiencing a career renaissance (still can’t believe he’s only 25). Goran Dragic is playing the best basketball of his career. Keep your heads up Heat fans; the future is now.

Follow TSJ Sports on Twitter @TSJ_Sports and @TSJ_NBA. You can follow me @mholzapfel3.