clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Heat have a lot of questions to answer after only 3 games into the season

Injuries and narrow wins present opportunities for Rooks 1 and 2 to show their stuff as veterans.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Rodney McGruder’s stress fracture opened up one wing spot in the Miami Heat roster. Hassan Whiteside’s third missed game gives more minutes for other players on the court. Goran Dragic (thigh contusion) and Dion Waiters (ankle) are banged up early on.

INJURY UPDATE: Goran Dragić (thigh contusion) and Dion Waiters (ankle) both sat out of today’s team practice.

Hassan Whiteside (knee) has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game vs the San Antonio Spurs.

As a note, tomorrow’s game will be one of the few nationally televised ones for Miami on ESPN. Hope the Heat give audiences a compelling performance.

Tyler Johnson’s very slow start could be a sign of some unknown ailment or not meshing with Kelly Olynyk like he does with James Johnson.

He's come out cold to start the year, failing to hit double-digit scoring in any contest while not doing much else. If you have Johnson on your roster and there's a hot pickup out there, it makes a lot of sense to drop him for now.

That said, this gives other players on the Heat, namely Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, opportunities to play more important roles for the rest of the home stand, and perhaps the season. Wayne Ellington proved how he can be a game-changer when he's on target, and could see more time.

Jordan Mickey is an odd case because his game stats stink, but the team is 2-0 with him on the court and 0-1 with Whiteside in the game. Like Okaro White, Mickey is outclassed in one-on-one duels, but contributes in help situations for his teammates with his quickness and general hustle on every possession.

Already labeled by some as veterans, Richardson and Winslow may finally fulfill their early promise from the summer of 2015. Maybe getting to know the NBA depends more on guile than sheer athleticism was a turning point for them. Now they are smartly choosing their points of attack and reading what other teams give them, instead of trying to bully their way into a blocked shot.

Winslow could learn the finer points of the game from James Johnson, who doesn't rely solely on short jumpers or 3-point shooting. JJ reads the game like a master, whether its on offense or defense, and takes full advantage of the slight mistake or hesitation by the other team to soar like an eagle.

NOTE: Without Whiteside under the rim and Mickey on the side, JJ had clear path to rim for the highlight dunk. Later on JJ helped Mickey in a group effort on defense effort at the rim. Not on stat sheet.

Winslow hasn't perfected the art of breaking down offenses for dunks or assists like Johnson, yet. Once Justise does learn his craft from JJ, his potential upside, at his age, the sky is the limit. And he has #16 to mentor him every day in basketball and leadership.

Richardson has the tools to become a DeMar DeRozan or Klay Thompson. This season may be his opportunity to finally achieve their level of excellence. A 30-point game is next. Just don’t hang your head down after a mistake: get on Waiters Island.

When LeBron James starts as a point guard, “LeBron James moves to PG as Cavs shuffle lineup for Bulls matchup,” the possibilities for Erik Spoelstra become more intriguing.

Coach Tyronn Lue not only returned JR Smith to the Cleveland [Cavaliers] starting lineup in place of Dwyane Wade, but he also started LeBron James at point guard and Tristan Thompson at center -- with Jae Crowder and Kevin Love filling out the frontcourt -- when the Cavaliers hosted the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

With the absence of the traditional big on the court for Miami, a group effort becomes mandatory for Spo’s “Swiss Army knife” troops. The injuries and ailments pile up, they’re gateways the former Rooks have their chance to breakout this season, and carry the team with them.