Friday, October 16, 2015

2015-16 Season Preview: Miami Heat

MIAMI HEAT
[] 37-45
[] Offensive Rating: 104.9 (21st)
[] Defensive Rating: 107.9 (21st)
[] Net Rating: -3.0 (21st)
[] Last playoff appearance: 2014
[] Coach: Erik Spoelstra

The Miami Heat have only missed the playoffs twice in the 12 seasons since they drafted Dwyane Wade.  The first time was in 2007-08, when Dwyane Wade's main running mate was Shawn Marion, and Flash missed 31 games.  The story was a bit different last season, where the Heat struggled even when Chris Bosh was healthy and Hassan Whiteside was busy dominating the paint. They added Goran Dragic at the trade deadline, but even that couldn't keep the Heat afloat, and they missed out on the 8th seed by a game.   Everybody's back this year though, and Pat Riley did a great job in the offseason of filling out a bench that was less than satisfactory last season.  The Heat appear to be back on the right side of things this year, if they can just stay healthy.

Projected Starting Five

PG: Goran Dragic - 6'3, 190 - 8th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
78
16.3
17.4
21.8%
57.7%
34.7%
.258
77.4%
.234
22.8%
13.5%

Dragic will be back for his first full season with the Heat after signing a five year, $86M deal this summer.  Miami needs him to be an efficient third scoring option for 75% of the year, and a good top or second option in the games that Wade and/or Bosh miss.  At 29 years old, the Heat probably get two more prime years from Dragic, and then...

SG: Dwayne Wade - 6'4, 225 - 13th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
62
21.5
21.4
34.7%
53.4%
28.4%
.094
76.8%
.341
32.1%
14.4%

The Heat and Wade flirted with a separation this summer, one that never truly seemed imminent, before agreeing to a one year, $20M deal.  Wade will turn 34 in January, hasn't played in more than 70 games since 2010-11, and isn't the efficient, matchup nightmare he used to be.  That said, he's still a good enough player to be the focal point of an offense, something he'll certainly be for Miami this year when he's on the floor.  Wade's a first-ballot Hall of Famer slowly entering the twilight of his career.

SF: Luol Deng - 6'9, 225 - 12th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
72
14.0
15.5
19.5%
56.1%
35.5%
.280
76.1%
.319
9.9%
10.7%

Deng is the kind of do-it-all player who fits in perfectly with a Heat offense that already has three high-usage options.  He's going to play good defense, rebound the ball and score efficiently by getting to the line a reliable amount.  The only question mark is if he can repeat a strong (by his standards) outside shooting campaign last season.

PF: Chris Bosh - 6'11, 240 - 13th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TRB%
44
21.1
19.8
28.4%
54.8%
37.5%
.226
77.2%
.311
12.0%
12.0%

Much less important than the basketball side of things, thankfully Bosh appears to be fully recovered from blood clots in his lungs, a condition that can be deadly if not caught early.  Regardless of his performance, it'll just be good to see Bosh on the hardwood this season.  Reports have it that he'll be in playing condition and ready to go by tip-off on opening night.

C: Hassan Whiteside - 7'0, 240 - 4th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
FT%
FTr
BLK/36
48
11.8
26.2
21.1%
61.9%
25.4%
15.6%
34.7%
50.0%
.403
3.9


Whiteside, who hadn't played in the NBA since 2011-12 before joining the Heat last season, was the definition of a pleasant surprise for Miami last season.  He was exactly what the team needed at the C position (can you imagine if they had him when LeBron was still in town), as he provided high quality rim protection, excellent rebounding and efficient scoring around the basket.  Whiteside's surprisingly great season included a triple-double (14 pts, 13 reb, 12 blk) on national TV against the Bulls in January.  He'll make under $1M playing for the Heat this season, making him arguably the best value in the NBA, assuming he can come anywhere close to repeating last year's performance.

Bench

PG: Mario Chalmers - 6'1, 190 - 8th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
80
10.2
11.7
18.9%
52.1%
29.4%
.374
77.4%
.401
21.0%
18.2%

Before Shabazz Napier was sent to the Orlando Magic, it was thought that the Heat were trying to unload Chalmers.  More famous for his ability to draw the ire of LeBron James than for his play on the court, Chalmers is merely an average backup PG.  He's got some defensive value, but he's not going to wow anybody offensively.  He's not useless, but he's very replaceable.  

SG: Tyler Johnson - 6'5, 190 - 2nd NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
32
5.9
12.0
17.0%
50.6%
37.5%
.287
68.1%
.281
11.3%
13.8%

Johnson broke his jaw in summer league play, but his roster spot seems more certain after the Heat sent Zoran Dragic and Shabazz Napier packing.  He had a decent rookie season after going undrafted out of Fresno State.  Although he appears to have a clear path to a roster spot, his path to minutes could be cloudy.

G/F: Gerald Green - 6'7, 200 - 9th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
74
11.9
15.4
28.4%
53.2%
35.4%
.497
82.5%
.154
10.9%
11.1%

I really like this pickup for the Heat.  Green struggles defensively, but his ability to play both wing positions and to score the basketball dynamically should help ease Winslow's transition to the pro game.  He could see a few starts if Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade miss time like they did last year.  Last year's Heat squad didn't have much depth; Green is just one of a few fixes for that issue this year.

SF: Justise Winslow - 6'6, 220 - Rookie
GP
PPG
APG
RPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
39
12.6
2.1
6.5
48.6%
41.8%
64.1%

Winslow was everybody's darling after falling to the Heat as the 10th pick in the 2015 draft.  Dubbed as the steal of the draft, Winslow is expected to play with a chip on his shoulder this year.  He's physically ready for the NBA game, but it should be interesting to see how he adapts his skill level throughout the year.  Miami, thanks to the signing of Gerald Green, should have the luxury of bringing him along slowly.

SF: James Ennis - 6'7, 210 - 2nd NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TOV%
62
5.0
11.5
14.6%
54.1%
32.6%
.385
84.0%
.381
7.2%
11.9%

Ennis' roster spot could be on the line during training camp this fall.  He'll try and prove his worth against undrafted rookie Greg Whittington, who's not listed here.  I have my money on Ennis winning the final roster spot.

PF: Josh McRoberts - 6'10, 240 - 9th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3P%
3PAr
FT%
FTr
AST%
TRB%
17
4.2
10.2
12.8%
61.3%
42.1%
.358
61.5%
.245
17.5%
9.1%

McRoberts missed the majority of last season with a torn meniscus. Assuming he's fully healthy, I expect McBob to win the lion's share of the PF minutes.  His outside game and passing ability make him a bigger asset than the incumbent Udonis Haslem.

PF: Udonis Haslem - 6'8, 235 - 13th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
FT%
FTr
BLK/36
62
4.2
10.6
14.6%
48.8%
15.6%
8.8%
22.1%
70.3%
.268
0.5

Haslem's loyalty to the Heat doesn't go unappreciated, and he should be expected to fill in as called upon again this year.  The results won't likely be pretty on the court, but he's valuable for his experience and leadership

F/C: Amar'e Stoudemire - 6'10, 250 - 14th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
FT%
FTr
BLK/36
59
11.5
20.3
23.8%
59.5%
15.1%
9.9%
20.5%
72.0%
.380
1.1

The other move to add depth that I really like, Stoudemire is a great fit in the Heat frontcourt.  He can play PF and C off the bench, lightening Andersen and McBob's load, or he can fill in if/when Bosh and Whiteside miss games.  Stoudemire didn't live up to his contract with the Knicks, but that doesn't mean he's not a serviceable player.

C: Chris Andersen - 6'10, 230 - 14th NBA season
GP
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
TRB%
ORB%
DRB%
FT%
FTr
BLK/36
60
5.3
16.1
12.3%
62.2%
15.9%
8.2%
23.2%
66.7%
.551
1.9

Andersen should play a role much more suited to his skills this year, as Stoudemire will provide the frontcourt's offensive punch off the bench.  That leaves Andersen to be the defensive specialist, which is his game.

Outlook

The Heat look much better this year now that they've added some depth to mitigate any potential nagging injury issues.  Drafting Justiste Winslow and signing Gerald Green and Amar'e Stoudemire is going to pay dividends when the nagging little injuries that keep guys like Dwyane Wade out pop up.  However, it still seems like this team doesn't quite have the chops to compete with the Eastern Conference's upper echelon. And even with better depth, it's still going to hurt when Wade misses the 20-30 games he misses every year with minor bumps and bruises, or for general rest.  If you can guarantee me that Wade and Bosh stay healthy, and that Whiteside doesn't turn back into a pumpkin (which I don't think will happen), this team probably hits 45-50 wins.  Instead, I think this team is destined for 40 wins and the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

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