It was a summer like no other in Miami. Yes, you could make the comparison of the departure of LeBron James a couple of years back. However, LeBron was never a Heat guy through and true. Dwayne Wade was, and has always been, the face of the franchise dating back to 2003 - when the Heat selected him fifth overall in the NBA Draft. Wade's departure is obviously disappointing and definitely hurts the club, but the future is not as grim as the Heat haters would like to think.
Replacing an NBA champion and team captain is never easy, but Miami has taken quality steps towards keeping their backcourt intact. Re-signing Hassan Whiteside and extending workhorse guard Tyler Johnson was a huge must this past offseason and the team came through. Both will be a big part of the squad's future and the franchise also did a nice job of adding a few veterans to his arsenal. New arrivals Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington and Dion Waiters will slot in nicely in their supporting roles and will undoubtedly help the team stay competitive for all 48 minutes a night, though not everyone believes the Heat will be able to build on last season. NBA betting site topbet.eu lists the Heat at +5000 to take the East, but they are also tied with the Hawks to take the division title for a second consecutive year. Will Miami's young core be able to assist Goran Dragic, who also faces pressure to up his game, and count on All-Star forward Chris Bosh?
Outside of the Heat and the Hawks, the division is fairly easy to predict. The Charlotte Hornets dismantled this past offseason losing Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin. The Washington Wizards did little to change their fortunes, substituting out Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson and Nene Hilario for Trey Burke, Ian Mahinmi and Tomas Satoransky. Three decent players for three decent players.
Meanwhile, the team that may surprise in the division, are the Orlando Magic. They brought in Serge Ibaka, D.J Augustin and Bismack Biyombo. Combine them with the young and budding talent already in place and Orlando could turn some heads.
Now, with that all of that said, it's still a two team division. The Heat and Hawks will go toe-to-toe once again, but this time around, we're not quite sure what we're going to see. Across the league though, Miami are actually ranked the same as the Chicago Bulls (+6,000) to take the NBA title - so while this current team may take some getting used to with so many new faces and so many familiar ones gone, the future is still as hot as the sun in Southern Florida.