That's not reality. And it shouldn't be the judgement we use when we watch the 2016-17 Miami Heat play. But we all need some clarification on what would make the season a success. These are options, and things that when we look back a year from now, we can say they helped us move forward, more than winning and losing. You may agree or disagree with them, that's OK.
But this is the measuring stick I am using watching the Miami Heat this season.
1. Chris Bosh plays the entire season
With how the last two years turned out, the Heat should find success if Bosh plays until May. He's the franchise player now, with $23 million due to him. He needs to be out there, and he needs to stay out there and put this mess behind him.
If Chris Bosh can lead this team, they will be better. And if Bosh plays and moves past this blood clotting stuff, he and everyone are better for it. Plain and simple, a success for all if he is on the court -- for us, the NBA, the Miami community and for his family.
2. Justise Winslow takes a huge step toward stardom
Last year Winslow and Richardson were called Rook 1 and Rook 2. But it was Rook 2 (Richardson) who was making the biggest leaps. Winslow played a pretty consistent year. His defense and hustle helped him keep his place in the rotation for the most part.
But this year, the Heat should hope that he makes a huge step forward. They have dreams for Winslow turning into a superstar. And while last year didn't necessarily manifest itself that way for Winslow, he's young and they believe in his abilities. Winslow, this year needs to make a huge jump if they are still going to believe that he can become one of the league's best players.
He needs to be better at scoring and creating. Last year, he fed off of everyone else and got by on scraps. This year, at some point, he needs to show that the ball can be in his hands and that he can score. This year will be a success if you leave it thinking that next year (17-18), he can be a 20 point scorer in the NBA.
3. Josh Richardson makes you start him
Like I said, Richardson made the biggest jumps. His defense, 3-point shooting and attacking made him the back-up point guard (as well as some trades and injuries). But once he got there, he didn't let up. And he continued that in the Summer League, playing very impressive.
But, there is a log-jam at shooting guard if Richardson is going to play there. Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters and even Wayne Ellington are lining up to play. If Richardson stays behind Goran Dragic at point guard, he would have to eat into Dragic's minutes which isn't smart.
This season would be a huge success Richardson played so good that he demanded the starting position at either position and seemingly forced a trade for one of those guys out of here. That sounds harsh, but if you want to keep Richardson in the future, he has to be paid if he is better. If he starts this year, that accelerates the process. I could talk about this in more detail, but in short: if he rises to the top of that list, we are all better for it.
4. Hassan Whiteside wins Defensive Player of the Year
This was a goal of his last year, but he got left in the dust behind Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green. If Whiteside plays to the level of DPOY -- the Heat will be much better. But that consists of him staying on the court and out of foul trouble.
Also, if Whiteside wins DPOY, then the Miami Heat have another bargaining piece to use when recruiting free agents in the following year. It's not everyday you can have a player like him locked up for 3 more years without an overwhelming desire to have the basketball in his hands. That type of award could be an asset to recruitment.
It will also be good for Hassan to be recognized for the way he changes the game.
5. The Miami Heat make the second round of the Playoffs
This seems like a longshot, but if Chris Bosh plays and the team comes together, this is a reality. With Dragic, Bosh, Winslow, Whiteside and other pieces around them, they just need to be a top 4 team in the East. Cleveland, Toronto and Boston have started to separate themselves.
So Miami just needs to stay ahead and be better than Chicago, New York, Detroit, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Indiana (to name a few). It's going to be task to get into the second round -- that's why the season should be viewed as a success if they get there.
That's how I am measuring the season. How about you?