In less than two weeks, the Miami Heat will start their formal process for the 2015-16 NBA season as they begin training camp at Florida Atlantic University. On September 28, Media Day will take place at the AmericanAirlines Arena, and then the team will immediately begin training camp.
Miami Heat Media Day set for September 28. It's been a long time coming but it's going to be great to report on everything that will go down— Surya Fernandez (@SuryaHeatNBA) September 15, 2015
There's plenty to think about heading into camp, and that's exactly what we have here for you. Everything to think about, watch for, wait for, and hope for as the team begins to put together a plan, rotation and ever finalize their roster. This has been the longest offseason the Heat have had in years, so let's get started.
First things first, here is the Heat's preseason schedule:
As you can see, beginning October 4, we will start to see some basketball. That means 5 days of camp before the first preseason game. And there is plenty to figure out in those 5 days and the days moving forward. Just so we are all on the same page, here's how the Miami Heat depth chart currently looks including camp invitees.
PG -- Goran Dragic, Mario Chalmers, Josh Richardson, Corey Hawkins*
SG -- Dwyane Wade, Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson
SF -- Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, James Ennis*, Greg Whittington*
PF -- Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem, Keith Benson*
C -- Hassan Whiteside, Amaré Stoudemire, Chris Andersen
Hawkins, Ennis, Whittington, and Benson all have non-guaranteed contracts heading into training camp. Ennis is the only player of those whose contract becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the roster for opening night. The Heat still have room to add 2 players to their training camp roster.
What this all means is that the Heat have 14 players with guaranteed contracts that will make the roster, unless traded away, and 4 (or possibly 6) players fighting for the last regular season roster spot. That leads us to our first thing to watch for in training camp.
Who's going to get the last roster spot?
This is a great question. To answer it short: we don't know. James Ennis certainly has the inside track based on experience with the team. But he played so poorly in the Summer League. On top of that, keeping him gives the Heat no flexibility as his contract is guaranteed. He better hope he plays really well, or the ones he is competing against don't play well.
Probably the number one contender for him will be Greg Whittington. He played exceptional in the Summer League, showing the consistency in shooting and the ability to put the ball on the floor. His defense will always be where he needs to improve. If Whittington plays well, he may push Ennis out for the mere fact that Whittington's contract will be partially guaranteed. What that means is that the Heat can cut him at almost any point for the addition of another player with little expense.
Keith Benson will turn some heads, for sure. But with the depth rotation Miami has, it's hard to see them adding another big when Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen are going to struggle to finding playing time. The same will likely be true of Corey Hawkins. He will have to overly impress to get the Heat to think about adding depth behind a point guard spot manned by Goran Dragic.
Look for Whittington vs Ennis to be the feature spotlight.
What will the guard rotation look like?
This will be what we need to find out in the preseason. Last year, with the rotation of point guards, Miami used Mario Chalmers as a back-up to Dwyane Wade. This season, Gerald Green will fill that role. Is Chalmers only going to see time when Goran needs a rest? Will Tyler Johnson be in the rotation? What about Josh Richardson?
I think you are going to see a guard rotation of Dragic-Chalmers-Wade-Green for the most part. Because of the fragility of Dwyane Wade, I think we will see Tyler Johnson a little more than you may expect, but not heavy minutes unless of injury. Regardless, in the preseason, we will see if Josh Richardson or Tyler Johnson has what it takes to try and crank out some more minutes from Spoelstra.
How much time will Chris Bosh play at center?
Intriguing question because now with Whiteside, Stoudemire and Andersen...there aren't many minutes for Bosh at center. But I do believe the Heat would like to see Bosh and McRoberts alongside of each other. It looked pretty good for the few times we saw it last year.
I wouldn't be surprised to see McRoberts replace Whiteside in the rotation first, before Bosh is replaced by another center, thus giving the two a few minutes together each half. Maybe 6-8 minutes of center per game for Bosh? I don't know, that's a guess. Maybe it's none. But I think it should be experimented more.
Is Justise Winslow going to be able be a point forward?
Winslow talked about his comfortability handling the ball not long ago. Imagine a second unit without Dragic or Wade. Winslow could be a point forward with Chalmers, Green, Bosh and McRoberts for a time. There shouldn't be heavy doses of this, and understand that Winslow will have his ups and downs as a rookie, but I think he will be allowed some time to play the point forward.
The downside of this will be heavier turnovers. I don't think this is a sustainable option for the Heat this season...moving forward, Winslow will become the Heat's non-point ball handler, I am sure of it. But he's got to develop. He's 19 and shouldn't be expected to manage an entire offense filled with vets with specific needs.