2015-16 NBA Record: 48-34
Additions: Dion Waiters (Oklahoma City Thunder), Derrick Williams (New York Knicks), Wayne Ellington (Brooklyn Nets), James Johnson (Toronto Raptors), Willie Reed (Brooklyn Nets), Luke Babbitt (traded from New Orleans Pelicans)
Subtractions: Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls), Joe Johnson (Utah Jazz), Luol Deng (Los Angeles Lakers), Gerald Green (Boston Celtics), Amar’e Stoudemire (retired)
Projected Starting Line-up:
PG – Goran Dragic
SG – Josh Richardson
SF – Justice Winslow
PF – Derrick Williams
C – Hassan Whiteside
The longtime face of the Miami Heat Dwyane Wade has left South Beach, while Chris Bosh looks like he might not play a game this year due to his blood clot issues. The veterans have all moved on and the Heat are launching a new era with their young studs. All eyes will be on whether Whiteside and Dragic can carry this side to the playoffs or whether they tank and fans see a year of development from Winslow, Johnson and Richardson this season.
With the official end of the Big 3 era, Hassan Whiteside becomes the new face in Miami after he signed a lucrative deal to remain with the Heat. Whiteside lead the league in blocks last season and averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. He recorded 3 triple-doubles last year and should be in for a big 2016-17 campaign. Goran Dragic is the team’s top playmaker, and should get more touches with D-Wade gone. Wade also leaving means that Dragic should be the go-to guy in the clutch. Dragic can create his own shot and drive to the rim well. He doesn’t tally a lot of assists, but he can initiate an offense. He’ll need to be a team leader with all the veterans gone. Justice Winslow didn’t necessarily have a big rookie year, but his impact on the court was evident. He’s a great rebounder and defender and has become noticeably bigger this offseason, so expect him to break out in his sophomore campaign. Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson are strong role player who had to grind to get to where they are. Richardson’s the team’s top shooter, while Johnson will want to prove he earned his 4-year/$50 million deal this offseason. Both are expected to have an increased role this year. Dion Waiters should have a similar role to what he had in Oklahoma City, which is to be a supporting piece rather than having to go out and score on his own. Willie Reed is an underrated signing who has a similar game to Hassan Whiteside. Reed is one to watch as someone who could break out with not many veterans around.
It’s unknown whether Chris Bosh will play, but it looks as though he’s on his way to being traded. Pat Riley has said that the Heat plan to hold off on trading Bosh for a while so he’s not eligible to play for another team. The loss of Bosh already hurts their season and it looks as though their season will be more about developing the young stars. The backcourt has a lot of depth, but shooting remains a weakness for this side. But the biggest takeaway was the loss of their star Dwyane Wade. Things turned sour between Wade and Miami’s front office, which led to him heading back home to Chicago. Wade’s production and leadership will be hard to replace and because of this, I don’t see Miami making the playoffs.
Prediction: 5th in Southeast Division