Only a calendar year removed from the Miami Heat’s uplifting run to the 2020 NBA Finals, a disappointing first round exit last season meant it was time for Pat Riley and the front office to bring in some fresh faces. Today’s Media Day gave us our first look at the newest Heat Big 3 of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and newcomer Kyle Lowry wearing a familiar No. 7 jersey.
As the Heat’s social media team points out, it will certainly be fun to see how Lowry meshes with his old friend Butler and a resurgent Adebayo, fresh off winning Olympic gold this summer. But will it be enough for a bounce-back season and prove to everyone that their run to the Finals in the NBA Bubble in Orlando was no fluke? For that to have a chance at happening against the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat will need to count on being much more like the 2016-17 Heat team than the top-heavy-with-talent original Big 3 teams.
A healthy Victor Oladipo returning in time for a meaningful playoff run would most certainly helps matters. Although realistically there may not have been much of a chance today of exceedingly good news on Oladipo’s progress since his season-ending quadriceps surgery mere weeks into his Heat career, his playing status is still very much in the air.
“I don’t know,” the 29-year-old guard told the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “We’ll see. Hopefully sooner than later. But I’m optimistic. I’m doing better now. And I don’t really know what the future holds.”
Victor Oladipo says he mostly has been limited to “super-light stuff” to this point. Declines to offer timetable for return.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 27, 2021
Oladipo says he is hopeful of crafting “one of the best comeback stories ever.”— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 27, 2021
Oladipo says he returned to see if he can be his best self with Heat. Called it “unfinished business.”— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 27, 2021
Knowing how much he has been wanting to play for Miami and for his latest injury setback to occur so soon after the midseason trade that finally brought him here, you can’t help but root for Oladipo to have his incredible comeback story. The talent is certainly there and his presence on the bench is precisely what is needed to counter against the elite East teams in the playoffs, but will his body be able to withstand NBA action and return him as close to the All-Star form he displayed with the Indiana Pacers? The answer, as always, is time will tell.
But there are certainly other players, some new and some old, that could also step up their game and catapult the Heat. Players such as Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent will have plenty of opportunities to earn minutes while Oladipo rehabs — and indeed when he returns.
Tyler Herro on adding 10 pounds of muscle this offseason: "I feel faster, I feel stronger, I feel quicker. I feel like I've improved in every area."— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) September 27, 2021
Summer League sensation Omer Yurtseven could also get his chance to prove he belongs in the NBA.
And yet ultimately fans will just have to be just a little more patient to see how much Lowry can improve the Heat. I like what I’m hearing already though.
Lowry on his good buddy Butler compared with other All Stars he's played with: "Jimmy is a little more crazy. He wears his emotions on his sleeves. [DeRozan] and Kawhi are very quiet. [Jimmy] makes sure everyone knows there's no F-ing around. You appreciate players like that."— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) September 27, 2021
We already know what Butler, the savvy veteran, will bring to the table this season but the 24-year-old Adebayo still has so much room for his game to grow. Consider this tantalizing tidbit from today’s media session.
Asked if he's going to shoot more threes this season, Bam Adebayo gave a one-word answer: "Yeah." https://t.co/JXTSEHcE1z— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) September 27, 2021
Udonis Haslem was unfortunately not available for today’s Media Day session, which marks the beginning of Heat training camp, due to the recent death of his father.
The Heat also reported today that the roster is in full compliance with the NBA’s latest COVID health and safety protocols and that they don’t anticipate any issues with regards to the current vaccination status of all their players.