Miami Heat leaped 5 spots to number 4 in Marc Stein's power rankings this week, which places them as the prime threat to the three elite teams Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Although the trio are in a class by themselves, to be considered as the best of the rest is quite a statement to the Heat having built a contending team from a lottery one last season. In his comments Stein said, "It was admittedly an almighty struggle for the Committee of One to pinpoint a team worthy of the No. 4 slot on this Rankings Monday, such are the ups and downs that have engulfed seemingly the entire league outside of Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland in these first few weeks of the season."
Last week was a tumultuous one with a trade, an incident and a one-point victory. Having Gerald Green back and newcomers Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes replacing Mario Chalmers and James Ennis, there's going to be a lot of adjusting to do with the personnel. Surprisingly the most efficient five-player unit, consisting of players on the team today, is Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Winslow, Tyler Johnson, Udrih, with a +9 in nine minutes on the court.
Defense will still remain the Heat's calling card this season, regardless of whoever is on the team. In that regard Stokes, who was a teammate of Josh Richardson at Tennessee, might prove to be a physical deterrent for someone like a Derrick Favors or Tristan Thompson. With three players to work into rotation during remainder of the home stand, Erik Spoelstra will have difficult decisions to make balancing defensive toughness with offensive production.
In the latest NBA Rookie Ladder Justise Winslow has climbed into the eighth spot on the list, bypassing Stanley Johnson, D'Angelo Russell, Mario Hezonja, Myles Turner, who were all knocked out of the top ten. Scott Howard-Cooper commented, "Winslow is now consistently getting more than 30 minutes a game, with good reason. His defense compares favorably to all players, not just rookies, part of his energy with the second unit that has become an early positive in South Florida. Winslow ranks in the top 10 in his class in scoring, minutes, rebounding and assists while shooting a respectable 46.3 percent."
The next four games will determine the team's mental toughness in remaining motivated against losing teams. Just ask Ronda Rousey what happens if an athlete underestimates their opponent.
ICYMI #RunWade provided a picture of some of the Heat players at the event:
Justise Winslow (@IAmJustise) November 16, 2015
Also, a happy Monday birthday to Amar'e Stoudemire, who was gifted a Hublot special edition Miami Heat $24,700 watch from his teammates: