Gordon Hayward is getting attention as one of few affordable All-Star free agents this summer. Would he make sense to add to the Miami Heat roster?
For January, February and March (up to the 29th), the Heat had the third best record in the Eastern Conference during that span.
Wizards 30-13 70%
Celtics 28-13 68%
Heat 27-14 66%
Cavaliers 22-19 54%
Raptors 23-20 53%
Bucks 23-20 53%
Hawks 22-20 52%
Pacers 21-20 51%
Bulls 19-21 48%
Pistons 19-21 48%
76ers 20-23 47%
Hornets 15-26 37%
Magic 12-29 29%
Knicks 12-30 29%
Nets 8-34 19%
Total 301-323 48%
Their 27 wins translates to 54 wins over an 82 game schedule, which ordinary is good enough for a top-four seed in the post-season play. Even if Hayward bumps Miami up to 60 wins, would the cost of 6 extra wins be worth the size of his contract?
The recent stellar play of Josh Richardson sets up a dilemma of what to do with him next season. Adding him to Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson gives Miami a rotation that meshes together very, very well.
Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, Willie Reed and Okaro White provide the Heat with a depth that wears other teams out during a 48-minute game. Those eleven players collectively as a unit never give the opposition a chance to relax during the contest.
In addition Justise Winslow and the 2017 first-round draft pick will add further depth to the team next season. DraftExpress’ mock draft, as of today, has the Heat’s pick to be Og Anunoby, while Bleacher Report projects 19-year-old Latvian Rodions Kurucs as a possibility. A Latvian like Kristaps Porzingis, BR describes Kurucs by saying,
He stands out under the NBA scouting microscope with athleticism, 6'9" size, ball-handling skills and shooting range. A scorer with promising defensive tools and foot speed, he's been viewed as one of the more intriguing young European wings.
Whoever the prospect turns out to be, either one is very raw and probably won’t have an immediate impact. There is only one ball, so finding enough minutes among thirteen players won’t be an easy task for Erik Spoelstra (ranked 4th best coach in the NBA by ESPN).
That leaves Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Udonis Haslem and their contract situations in limbo over the summer. Remember next season NBA teams will also have 2 additional two-way player contracts allowing them to stash prospects in the G-League for development or call-up as needed in case of injuries.
The biggest question mark with Hayward isn’t his All-Star talent level, but his fit in the Miami Heat culture. Notable examples of players not doing well after changing teams in recent years were the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets who assembled All-Star casts, which eventually fizzled leaving their franchises in tatters in the ensuing years.
The last four games against the top teams in the Eastern Conference will test how legit the Heat really are this season. If they make the playoffs, that will be another reality check to evaluate the current roster before the start of free-agency. The next 2-4 weeks will determine the fate of the team as it currently stands on personnel moves for next season
If somehow Miami survives the hoped-for first-round the question will be whether the Heat should be top-heavy with talent, or stick with a deeper squad able to play 82 games and the playoffs for a full 48 minutes of winning and fun basketball.