Training camp is here and the NBA season is nearly upon us. The Miami Heat have a rejuvenated spirit heading into the new season, but they certainly have some challenges ahead of them.
SB Nation is unveiling uniformed team previews everyday as we roll through training camp. So we got you covered for everything about the Miami Heat right here.
So here we go...make sure to chime in your opinions in the comments below!
Team: Miami Heat
Last Year's Record: 37-45
Key Losses: Michael Beasley, Shabazz Napier
Key Additions: Justise Winslow, Amaré Stoudemire, Gerald Green
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
Unlike last offseason, the Heat didn't lose very much. They voluntarily gave away Shabazz Napier and Zoran Dragic to clear cap space, and they decided to let go of Mike Beasley and Henry Walker. Last year, the Heat lost a tremendous amount of talent and depth to say the least.
But the significance of this is right here: the Heat let go of players who weren't going to be in the rotation, and added three players who will be in the rotation: Green, Stoudemire and 1st round draft pick Justise Winslow. These additions give the Heat serious depth at every position, something they didn't have last year.
Probably the most significant of these is that the Heat actually have a back-up behind Dwyane Wade, who missed 20 games last year. With Green and even Winslow able to play solid minutes behind Wade, Miami will be in much better shape.
2. What are the Heat's biggest strengths?
Their biggest strength has to be their experience. Outside of Justise Winslow, the Heat are two-deep at every position with veteran players with experience and even playoff experience. This is Miami's window do be competitive, and they have to take advantage of it.
Outside of that, their strength will be their defense. With skilled defensive players Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside starting for the team, the Heat will continue to be at the top of defensive categories under coach Spoelstra's system. They will have to hope that Goran Dragic isn't a liability and that Winslow adjusts quickly. But Miami will always hang it's hat on the defensive side of the ball.
3. What are the Heat's biggest weaknesses?
First and foremost their biggest weakness is consistent and threatening 3-point shooting. Removed a few years from steady shooters Ray Allen, Shane Battier and even James Jones, the Heat don't have anyone who is recognized as a 3-point shooter. Plenty of them who can shoot threes, but the consistency and reliability of them isn't good.
Last year the Heat shot 33.5% from deep, which was seventh-worst in the NBA. Their 3-point options are Goran Dragic, Mario Chalmers, Gerald Green, Luol Deng and then whatever the bigs can offer through Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts. All this led to the Heat being the fourth-lowest scoring team in the NBA. All things that were a weakness and may very be again. But the hope is that the combination of Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic, who didn't play together last season, will help resolve much of this.
Still, the Heat don't possess scary 3-point threats and that is a weakness.
Secondly, rebounding remains an issue. However, with the emergence of Hassan Whiteside and the expectation that he will be playing much more, this should subside some. Regardless, Miami was last in the NBA in rebounds per game last year. They'll need all five players on the floor to contribute the rebounding problems.
4. What are the goals for the Heat?
I think the goal for the Heat this year from inside the organization is to compete for a championship. But I believe from a fan's perspective, our goal for the team is to be healthy and make it at least to the Eastern Conference Finals. Subjecting this team to a championship or bust or even Finals or bust isn't fair. There's too many variables. But from this fanbase, we firmly believe to be a better team from top to bottom than Atlanta, Chicago and Washington.
If Miami can make it to the Conference Finals and give the Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money, that's a pretty good season. However, with Wade at 34, Bosh at 32 and Dragic at 30 by season's end...there isn't any real reason to think the Heat should feel good about not winning it all. That's why from inside the organization, the goal will be to win it all.
Are they going to be the favorites? No. But that's not going to stop them from going for it if they are healthy.
5. What does Dwyane Wade have left?
This is a legitimate question, but I think one of the most valuable pieces that is easy to overlook is that Wade has had the longest offseason for himself in a several years. He should be rested, rejuvenated and be ready for the season. Spoelstra even said that there are no restrictions for him this year.
Wade has enough left to lead the team, but not enough to play 38 minutes a night and be efficient. He should be around 33 minutes and 20 points and keep the efficiency while Dragic and Bosh continue to lead in other aspects. Wade will benefit from the talent that is on the roster. I think he's also ready to take a reduced role to help the team.
2015-16 Prediction: 46-36
This should be a big turnaround season for the Heat. Health will always be the catalyst to success for how this roster is formed. If the Heat are healthy, they will be serious contenders in the East. I think Bosh will be the only All-Star for the team, but Whiteside is going to get considerable recognition. Hassan will average a double-double, but Dragic will be the engine that drives the team.
WestGate Superbook in Vegas lists Heat win total for this season at 45.5 (via Tim Reynolds).
It should be a fun season in Miami!