It’s time to get ready for this season to begin! Here’s 4 HHH’s writers on some their predictions for this season and the Miami Heat.
Question 1: What are you most excited for this season?
SURYA: I would have preferred seeing Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade being surrounded by this blossoming Heat youth movement but as presented, it will be fascinating to see how all these pieces fit together throughout the course of the season. Without a true #1 scoring option, I’m eager to see how Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside shoulder the extra load on offense and how Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson develop in their second years. Exactly how Pat Riley tinkers with the roster, especially after the 1-year anniversary of Bosh’s last game with the Heat, will also definitely be something to watch.
MATT: Allowing Goran Dragic to totally run the show on offense has got me excited. We know what he is made of, what he wants to do...but we also saw him sit the bench in close minutes or stand in the corner with the franchise player running the show last year. I think a potent offensive player like Dragic with control and players looking to him to lead will be fun.
DIEGO: The Heat have found a few young players who have some talent. Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Tyler Johnson all are just starting their NBA careers and could continue to improve their play. Although he’s not as young, Hassan Whiteside is still young and has room to grow in certain areas -- passing out of the post, for example. Seeing these young players make that leap should excite Heat fans.
BRANDON: I’m really excited to see how certain players develop this season. There is so much young talent on this team and many with superstar potential. It will be great to see them take that leap and thrive in a speedy offense. Miami’s been a slow team in the past because of their iso-centric offense, but with Dragic conducting things we should see a lot of open three pointers and different players contributing.
Question 2: What are your biggest concerns for this Heat team?
SURYA: Not enough veteran leadership and depth at the power forward position with Bosh gone. I’m not quite sure Winslow is ready to play that position in a small-ball lineup. They’re also thin at center, again Bosh would have helped in certain lineups, but I’m encouraged with Willie Reed’s energy in the preseason. With Beno Udrih and Briante Weber now gone, I’m not quite sold on the rest of the guards playing behind Dragic, who is the only pure point guard on the roster now.
MATT: Front-court depth. When you look at the center position, it is simply Willie Reed and Hassan Whiteside. Udonis Haslem can slide over, but that’s it. Any injury or time-away will be an issue for them. At PF, the Heat seem to be going position-less. That’s OK, but there are some teams that they will need some meat, and Miami doesn’t have it.
DIEGO: It is the inevitable bitter divorce with Chris Bosh. The relationship between the Heat and Bosh has been frosty ever since Bosh tried to come back last playoffs, but now we’re at the point at which a player on the roster -- the highest-paid one, at that -- is not on speaking terms with the head of the organization. We may have yet to see the worst of this prolonged departure.
BRANDON: Like Diego, I agree the Chris Bosh scenario is terrifying. It would be great if the Heat and Bosh could reconcile, but at this point what we’ve seen could be the tip of the iceberg.
Questions 3: What’s the one thing you think will happen this year that will surprise the fans?
SURYA: We’ve already seen them play fast and with plenty of ball movement. If they can truly play cohesively, a challenge perhaps with so many new faces, then they’re capable of playing some entertaining basketball with players like Tyler Johnson and Richardson providing fan-friendly highlights.
MATT: Josh Richardson is going to have a way better year than Justise Winslow. I think Richardson is on the verge of becoming something special. And when he is healthy, I think he is going to overshadow Winslow. Winslow is still going to play and make a huge impact. But Richardson will be a scorer and a starter that makes the Heat exciting.
DIEGO: The Heat will develop an up-tempo, free-flowing offensive style that will exceed expectations. Many fans, particularly the casual fans who could not have seen why the Heat essentially chose to re-sign a young Hassan Whiteside rather than an aging Dwyane Wade, will be surprised that Miami won’t look too bad this year.
BRANDON: I think what will surprise fans is how competitive this team can be given how young they are. For many this Heat team is unrecognizable, and I think that’s what makes them unique and gives them the element of surprise.
Question 4: What are some realistic goals/expectations for this team?
SURYA: In the East, there’s no reason why they can’t battle for one of the final playoff spots. I’m not sure that many teams in this conference improved over the offseason and in fact many got worse. If the Heat can stay injury-free and get a bit lucky, then I think it’s certainly possible. A major injury or a slump however and it might be time to start thinking about that first-round pick Miami owns and try to maximize it as they won’t have many others in the near future.
MATT: I think the goal is a playoff berth. Any form of player experience again for this group is going to be huge. But it will not be easy for the Heat. There are plenty of East teams that are improving while Miami is on the decline, in terms of last season. Miami has to stay healthy to have a chance at that.
DIEGO: Although the Heat have lost the veteran presences of Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng, the Heat should still fight for a good playoff position this year. Whether the Heat can realistically aim for, say, the fourth seed and earn home-court advantage in the first round remains to be seen. But a playoff series would help a lot of these young players grow and develop.
BRANDON: This team is so unpredictable, with that being said they have the opportunity to be competitive if things come together right. I really do feel like they have the potential to sneak into the playoffs this year, but obviously that’s not a given. Realistically, I think Miami will be competitive every night and after a terrible offseason I’m happy with that.
Question 5: What is your prediction on the Heat’s record and placing in the East?
SURYA: 41-41, 8th seed
MATT: 37-45, 10th seed.
DIEGO: 42-40, 4th seed.
BRANDON: 40-42, 8th seed