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Can Heat get away without an upgrade at the four?

Jorge Sedano and Zach Lowe discussed the possibility on a recent podcast episode.

Washington Wizards v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jorge Sedano joined Zach Lowe on a recent podcast episode of “The Lowe Post” to discuss the Miami Heat, a team that has had a quiet offseason thus far. The Heat drafted Nikola Jovic and re-signed Caleb Martin. P.J. Tucker left in free agency for the Philadelphia 76ers, and that’s been it.

The Heat, of course, are angling to trade for either Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell. At the Miami Pro League last night, fans chanted “Miami!” while Mitchell was at the free throw line. But those trade discussions have yet to bear fruit. The Heat may be patient and go into the regular season with their current roster, hoping to then making a splash around the trade deadline.

Sedano and Lowe discussed whether the Heat can get away with not making an upgrade at the four, their big area of need after Tucker’s departure. As I’ve mentioned, their options right now are Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Jovic. Sedano said the Heat like Highsmith and that he will get a chance in the regular season.

I didn’t know that Max Strus and Gabe Vincent would play so well after uneven years when they were on two-way contracts during the 2020-21 season. I also didn’t know that Omer Yurtseven would showcase his solid offensive skills when Bam Adebayo needed right thumb surgery. Maybe Highsmith — who played in 19 regular season games for the Heat last year — can soak up minutes until the trade deadline.

Sedano made another good point in the podcast. One valuable asset of Tucker’s was his ability to defend perimeter players, not just opposing power forwards, he said. Tucker’s defense against Trae Young and James Harden in the first two rounds of the playoffs were exemplary. Will Adebayo and Butler have to do more of that this season? Or can Martin and Gabe Vincent provide that?

Miami’s defense is so switch-heavy that the Heat need versatile defenders at every position. The Heat could play Jimmy Butler at the four, for example, but Max Strus would need to show that he can guard up in addition to shooting high volume from 3.

Another option would be for the Heat to use a token starter at the five. Omer Yurtseven would appear to be the most likely candidate, but he needs to prove he’s a willing 3-point shooter.

Early in the 2019-20 season, Erik Spoelstra started Meyers Leonard, who usually played just open the first and third quarters. Miami did well during that stretch, despite the lack of options at the four. Justise Winslow was hurt, and James Johnson’s early conditioning issues led him to play sparingly. Until the midseason trade for Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Solomon Hill, the Heat plugged the holes with Leonard, Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr.

The Heat might be able to get away without making an upgrade at the four until the trade deadline. But they can’t go a full season of putting more defensive responsibilities on Butler and Adebayo and hope to compete for a championship.