With the resumed NBA season right around the corner, all 17 players that the Miami Heat are bringing into the Orlando bubble must be locked in and ready to go. Let’s take a look at where each player stands heading into Walt Disney World and what questions are surrounding each.
1. Bam Adebayo
Adebayo has the highest ceiling of any player on the team and was named to his first All-Star game in just his third season in the league. Adebayo averaged 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season and is the favorite across Vegas boards to bring home the Most Improved Player award. This could change however if Adebayo’s main competition for the award, Brandon Ingram, is able to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs.
Both Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic won the award in their careers but Adebayo would join Isaac Austin and Rony Seikaly as the only players to win the award as members of the Heat.
2. Kyle Alexander
Reportedly, the Heat thoroughly enjoy what Alexander can bring to the table and it seems as if he is in the team’s long-term vision. At 6’10”, Alexander could provide adequate center depth if someone goes down in the bubble.
3. Jimmy Butler
While Butler is having a down shooting season, everyone around him has been able to propel Miami to the best 3-point shooting team in the league. This is still due in part to what Butler has been able to bring to the team and he leads the Heat in assists per game at 6.1. It will be most interesting to see if Butler can replicate his success in last year’s playoffs when he nearly led the Philadelphia 76ers to the Eastern Conference Finals.
4. Jae Crowder
Crowder has been the most seamless fit of the three players brought to the Heat at the trade deadline and he has averaged 11.9 points per game on 39% shooting from deep. Crowder has never been the most prolific 3-point shooter throughout his career so it will be interesting to see if he can continue this streak into the bubble. This might be the deciding factor as to if the Heat decide to bring Crowder back in the offseason, as he is scheduled to be a free agent and could get decent offers elsewhere.
5. Goran Dragic
Dragic has always been one of the more overlooked and underappreciated players in his time with the Heat and this showed when he seamlessly moved to the bench this season, becoming one of the best sixth men in the league. Dragic is scheduled to be a free agent this season and the Heat seem almost guaranteed to bring him back in some form. The most likely route is that the Heat sign him to a massive one-year deal for his last payday, as he is 33 years old. Another option could be a long-term deal that would pay him that number over multiple years. His play in Orlando may be key to answering this question for the Heat.
6. Udonis Haslem
The main thing to know with Haslem, who is now the oldest player in the league, is that he is always ready to step in and play big minutes if need be for the Heat. Haslem has made it known that he feels as if he is always at the apex of human physique and could drop a double-double any given night of the week. If anyone goes down in Florida, know that Haslem is always willing and ready to step in.
7. Tyler Herro
At age 19 for most of the season, Herro had a noteworthy season prior to the hiatus putting up 12.9 points and four rebounds per game while shooting 39% from deep on 5.4 attempts per game. Herro has been an integral part of the rotation and is one of the biggest reasons for the team’s success thus far. Herro won’t win Rookie of the Year but if he can help lead Miami deep into the playoffs, he has a shot at making the All-Rookie First Team, which would make him the first player in over a decade to win the award for Miami.
8. Solomon Hill
Included as part of the trade that brought Crowder to Miami, Hill was originally seen as a throw-in as a salary filler and was not expected to see much playing time. Hill is on the last year of a 4-year, $48 million contract given to him by the New Orleans Pelicans and his play in Orlando will determine if he earns a spot on this team or another next season.
9. Andre Iguodala
Iguodala was acquired by the Heat at this year’s trade deadline and played in 14 games before the COVID-19 hiatus. Iguodala was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies last offseason but refused to play until he was traded to a contender, forcing him to take most of the season off. If the Heat want to make any kind of run, it will need the most out of Iguodala and it will be interesting to see if Iguodala will see any more rust after yet again being forced to take time off.
10. Derrick Jones Jr.
Jones has been cleared for a return to play after his bout with COVID-19, and will be playing for his first big contract when the team picks up play at Walt Disney World. Since entering the league, Jones has had to settle for a minimum contract as an undrafted player and even took a two-way contract when he signed with the Heat. Jones has propelled himself to a key role on a contending team and the Heat faces an interesting contract situation with the Slam Dunk Contest champion in the offseason.
Jones will likely see a contract just shy of what Justise Winslow received from the Heat via extension last season. Miami must decide if it is willing to bet on Jones’s upside as a strong perimeter defender and possibility that he can improve as a 3-point shooter. The 6’6” wing has the most questions surrounding him than any other on the team, and he will need to show consistency and determination in Orlando.
One area Jones could focus on improving? His catch-and-shoot 3-point numbers. According to @ShaneYoungNBA, Jones is the second-worst 3-point shooter in the league with a minimum of 100 attempts. Keep in mind Jones has a very high potential and is younger than rookies Kendrick Nunn, Chris Silva, Alexander and Gabe Vincent.
11. Meyers Leonard
The Heat are at its best when Leonard is playing and the center should see more playing time in the resumed season. Leonard was added last summer in the four-team sign-and-trade that brought Butler to Miami and sent Hassan Whiteside to Portland. “The Hammer” has been a very welcome addition to the squad as a locker room presence but his impact goes far beyond that. The Heat’s most used 5-man lineup (its starting lineup) has played 488 minutes and holds a 13.4 net rating with Leonard playing. In the 781 minutes Adebayo and Leonard have played together, the team posts a 7.5 net rating.
12. Kendrick Nunn
Nunn was added to the roster on the last day of the 2018-19 season and despite being overlooked by fans until Summer League, Nunn established himself as a star this season. Nunn is fourth on the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game behind only Adebayo, Butler and Dragic, three former All-Stars. The undrafted rookie scored 112 points in his first five games with the club and it will be imperative for Nunn to keep up that level of production if the Heat want to make it far into the postseason.
13. KZ Okpala
Since his selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, Heat fans have been excited about Okpala’s upside with his measurables being compared to the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his college stats resembling that of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Okpala probably won’t play much in the resumed season due to the sheer depth of forwards on the roster but if he does, the Heat will be keeping a close eye on his progress to see if he can join the rotation as soon as next season.
14. Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk is the only player left from the Heat’s 2017 spending splurge that saw James Johnson and Dion Waiters land ridiculously huge contracts. Johnson and Waiters were both offloaded at the trade deadline and Olynyk’s sporadic minutes across the season may indicate where he stands with the franchise. Olynyk holds a $12.2 million player option for next season and if he plays well enough in Orlando, he could opt for a long-term contract elsewhere which could have big financial implications for Miami this offseason.
15. Duncan Robinson
After sitting in the G-League last season, Robinson erupted this year for one of the best 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history. Robinson shot 45% from deep on 8.4 attempts per game in the first part of the season and broke the Heat single season record for 3-pointers that was previously held by Wayne Ellington. Interestingly enough, 89% of Robinson’s shot attempts are from deep which is on record to become an NBA record, per Barry Jackson.
16. Chris Silva
Silva began the season as a nice surprise for the Heat as a two-way contract player and posted eight points and six rebounds in his NBA debut. His solid play and outstanding hustle earned him a promotion to a standard contract but Silva’s playing time decreased greatly as the season went on. Silva will need to prove himself to the Heat once again if he gets the opportunity so that he can show the organization that he fits into its long-term picture.
17. Gabe Vincent
Vincent has a real shot at earning playing time in Orlando if any player goes down with an injury or the virus. When the Heat were without Herro and Iguodala as well as other rotation players, Vincent played 17 minutes and hit three 3-pointers. Vincent won the G-League Most Improved Player of the Year award and it is evident that the Heat trusts him to put up shots if others go down. With two unknown rotation players contracting the virus, it is entirely possible that Vincent sees some game time.