Golden State Warriors' success presents an opportunity for the Miami Heat, because the Warriors may not be able to afford keep Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, per the new CBA agreement. C.J. McCollum tweeted
Klay gonna get another ring and find his own squad. They better enjoy him while he there— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) June 2, 2017
The blueprint for a championship team (up to 2004-05) had three ingredients the current Miami Heat team lacks.
BUILDING A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
STEP 1: Acquire a Championship Superstar
Approach #1: Acquire a Top 5 caliber player
Approach #2: If you fail to acquire a Top 5 caliber player, then you need a Top 5 caliber defender.
Approach #3: Clear salary cap space for next year.
No NBA team has won a championship without a Top 5 player or Top 5 defender.
STEP 2: Add a championship sidekick (or two)
Every NBA championship roster included a Top 10 caliber player or Top 10 defender as a sidekick.
STEP 3: Make sure one of your players (superstar or sidekick) can defend
No team has won an NBA title without a Top 10 caliber defender.
With all due respect to the excitement of having a #14 draft pick this month, he won't fill the criteria to move the needle towards making Miami a contender next season. Help needs to arrive from Pat Riley weaving his magic this summer.
On the current roster, only Hassan Whiteside received any All-NBA love last season. As the seventh-ranked center the pressure is on him to become an All-NBA player this coming season, in order for his team to make a serious run for the title. Goran Dragic may have been the team's best player over the entire season, but he doesn't qualify as a top-5 caliber talent.
The starting quintet of Dragic, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt, Whiteside defeated the Warriors last season, yet that combination doesn't meet the essential ingredients for a NBA title. Success in the 2017-18 season depends, in part, on the expectation of Waiters and James Johnson achieving their full possible All-NBA potential under the guidance of Erik Spoelstra.
Sorry, but Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson don’t qualify as top-5 caliber NBA players, for now, nor does the 2017 draft pick count towards an All-NBA selection. Perhaps Chris Paul or Blake Griffin could be the All-Star additions Miami needs, should the Los Angeles Clippers rebuild. Thompson’s $18 million salary is less than either of those Clippers’ players would command as free agents.
Dragic and Waiters' drive-and-kick talents work beautifully when coupled with the 3-point shooting of Thompson. A unit of Dragic, Waiters, Thompson, Johnson and Whiteside could cause serious havoc both on defense and offense. Major problem is Miami has fewer assets to pry Thompson away from the Warriors than other NBA teams possess. But then would the Warriors secretly want to stop LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers march to another NBA Finals by sending Thompson to the Heat?
Despite last summer’s futile attempt to snare Durant, Heat fans can only dream of the possibilities should their team achieve the improbable goal of seeing Thompson in a Heat uniform. As a master of intrigue, Riley knows how to use the hidden agendas of NBA teams this summer to solve their dilemmas, during the off-season, by being a “good guy” to help them and the league fix personnel issues.
The Heat’s improvement lies in their management’s largesse towards other franchises. Any trade partner will first, and foremost, put their own interests ahead of the Miami Heat’s needs. The incentives may not be only financial ones, since Miami could be a beneficiary of the NBA favoring a break-up of the Warriors in the name of league parity.