The Miami Heat are on the verge of training camp and the preseason, and with the addition of some new faces, they will have a new starting lineup next season.
However, we aren’t really sure what direction the team is going to go. There’s questions about who will start and plenty of positions in the starting lineup. So that’s where we wanted to jump in and ask the question: What is the best starting lineup for the Miami Heat?
This is not a debate about a closing group, the best five players or anything like that. It’s a discussion about who should be starting the game as the opening unit. And after all, it’s just our opinion. And if you have followed the Heat long enough, you know Erik Spoelstra is going to tinker with this at some point.
But here’s the Summary of our Thoughts:
|Matt Pineda||Goran Dragic||Jimmy Butler||Justise Winslow||Kelly Olynyk||Bam Adebayo|
|Diego Quesada||Goran Dragic||Jimmy Butler||Justise Winslow||James Johnson||Bam Adebayo|
|Brandon DiPerno||Justise Winslow||Dion Waiters||Jimmy Butler||Kelly Olynyk||Bam Adebayo|
|Surya Fernandez||Goran Dragic||Jimmy Butler||Justise Winslow||Kelly Olynyk||Bam Adebayo|
And here’s the basic explanation for everyone’s picks:
MATT: I really think the Dragic needs to continue to be the point guard for this team. He’s the only natural point guard and a rugged team like Miami needs him there. Justise can be an early sub-out type player who can come back in for Dragic, but there’s room for both of them.
I believe Kelly-O needs to be starting next to Bam. Bam is not an offensive minded player, yet. Kelly adds and compliments to his game more than Johnson and I think that’s for the best, Clearly Jimmy and Bam will be starting. But the most important ingredient here will be convincing Dion Waiters that a reserve role is important for this team.
Every night the closing unit will be different, but for starters, I like this combination.
DIEGO: Instead of debating whether Winslow or Dragic should start for the Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra should start both of them. Together, they would offer enough offensive versatility to unload some pressure from Jimmy Butler to create the offense, especially at the start of games.
Although Dion Waiters’ weight loss over the summer is an encouraging sign, he should have to earn a starting spot if he wants it. He needs to provide more driving to the basket, as opposed to the 3-or-bust offense that mostly defined his game last year. And though Tyler Herro had a good summer league, he’s still just a rookie.
In putting James Johnson at the starting spot, I’m betting on him playing more like he did in 2016-17 than he has the last two years. But if he can get to that level, he’ll work tremendously well with Winslow and Butler. Miami wouldn’t have to worry about Kelly Olynyk as a defensive liability, and would have four of their starters who can make a play. It’d be Miami going back to the position-less basketball of the Big Three era.
BRANDON: Justise as the point guard works, despite some believing otherwise. He never found a real balance at power forward but excelled last season at point guard (averaged 12.8 Pts/5.4 Reb/4.0 Ast as a starting PG) . The Heat needs to see if he can continue to grow in this role. The skills are there, he just needs the reps.
All signs point to Dion being healthy, and if that’s the case you have to start him. If you need a reminder of what he’s capable of just WATCH THIS! He can be that guy again. He’s cut nearly 30 pounds and had 2 seasons of mentorship from Dwyane Wade. The potential is there.
Kelly started 36 games last season and averaged 11.0 Pts/5 Reb/2.1 Ast. He’s a capable shooter and can space the floor well which opens up a lot more offense for Miami.
I need to address my major omissions - Goran Dragic and James Johnson. I still think Goran Dragic is an excellent starting point guard, and if James Johnson is healthy he’s a force. I just think having those guys in the reserves would make this team even better. Johnson is excellent off the bench and had a career year in that role in 2017, he can do that again. Goran will likely start for the Heat, but his scoring presence in the reserves would do wonders for a team that suffered major scoring droughts at times over the last few years.
SURYA: This is a bit of a disjointed starting lineup, but it’s the most intriguing in my opinion. On some nights it could struggle out of the gate, but I can imagine it would pose plenty of offensive and defensive problems for many teams. Similar to last year’s roster, there’s a lot of players on the Heat with similar levels of talent so there are several ways Erik Spoelstra can go about constructing a starting lineup and something tells me he will continue to tinker with it throughout the season — hopefully out of strategic necessity and not because of injuries.
I like the playmaking ability of all five players while also having Justise, Jimmy and Bam wrecking havoc on the defensive end. Quite frankly, it’s time for Olynyk to have a larger role on the team at this point and I’d like to see him distribute more, which can only help when Goran rests and Justise can slide over to point. I also like this lineup for who isn’t in it and how they can be plugged in off the bench. Tyler Herro, Derrick Jones Jr., and Dion Waiters can provide an offensive spark playing with any combination of the starters, as most of them can play multiple positions.
Ultimately the question is which is the best starting lineup for the Heat, not to predict to which five players will start to open the regular season. Olynyk’s bruised right knee injury isn’t expected to be serious and though he won’t be available at the start of training camp, he should be ready once the season starts (but perhaps not ready to play starter’s minutes).
Let us know what you think!