This NBA offseason has reminded me of a typical MLB offseason.
For those who don’t follow MLB: In summary, it’s a slow-paced offseason where the market develops and teams don’t usually make big, fruitful transactions until at least December, when the Winter Meetings take place. It’s the antithesis of the NBA’s Free Agent frenzy that arises each offseason.
That’s been different for the NBA this year, however. Much of that has to do with all 30 organizations patiently waiting for the Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell dominoes to fall. Thus, the market has all but stopped. The Miami Heat are in the thick of those rumors, which has limited its player movement.
Alas, Miami’s offseason has consisted of three re-signings, two new two-way players, one new draft pick and
a partridge in a pear tree just one player heading elsewhere.
Take it for what it’s worth — but the Heat are reportedly content with its current roster. Not to say it won’t improve— Pat Riley will always seek improvements, like all good organizations should — but if the Heat ultimately don’t swing for a major move, the current makeup might be its most realistic roster.
In light of the constant leaguewide scuttlebutt and ongoing chatter, let’s discuss why each Heat player is important to the current team — whether they begin 2022-23 on the roster or not.
Forward | 6’7” | 230 lbs. | Age: 32
2021-22 stats (57 games): 21.4 PPG | 5.9 RPG | 5.5 APG | 1.6 SPG | 48.0 FG% | 59.2 TS% | 23.6 PER
Skinny: I don’t need write a five-paragraph essay on why Butler’s important. I could, but I won’t. Butler’s that dude. We saw it in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, down 3-2, on one knee — posting 47 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals in a superhuman-like performance. Every time Jimmy Butler’s placed in a must-win game, he’s almost certainly going to respond. It’s in his blood, sweat and tears to. It’s undeniable; Butler was one of the best players this postseason and capped-off a memorable third season in Dade County. Not necessarily for all the right reasons, but it was memorable nonetheless. Any time the Heat have Jimmy Butler ready to rock, they have a puncher’s chance, at worst. He’s one of the best two-way talents in this sport. He’s incredibly important.
Center | 6’9” | 255 lbs. | Age: 25
2021-22 stats (56 games): 19.1 PPG | 10.1 RPG | 3.4 APG | 1.4 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 55.7 FG% | 60.8 TS% | 23.6 PER
Skinny: Read the first sentence above, but substitute Adebayo’s name in there. While he’s been in the thick of possible trade talk for Kevin Durant, Adebayo could make a case for the most important player on this team because of his all-wordly defense. He’s perhaps the best defender in the sport and the Heat defense, without Adebayo in the mix, would crater substantially. In today’s NBA where wings are of the upmost importance, Adebayo’s versatility and ability to defend them — namely Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and LeBron James — at a high level is invaluable and irreplaceable. Sure, we’ve (fans, media, etc.) pestered his (lack of) aggressiveness at times, but Adebayo still puts up 19-10-3.5 on good efficiency while playing elite defense. It’s hard to ask for much more. Just wait until he develops a 3-point shot.
Guard | 6’0” | 195 lbs. | Age: 36
2021-22 stats (63 games): 13.4 PPG | 4.5 RPG | 7.5 APG | 1.1 SPG | 44.0 FG% | 37.7 3P% | 60.0 TS% | 15.0 PER
Skinny: As Lowry continues to age, his quickness has faded away in a way that doesn’t help Miami. That’s not uncommon, but it leaves the Heat in a bind. He’s taken a clear step-back defensively, and can’t generate much rim pressure offensively. Not ideal. Though Lowry’s importance also comes from setting up Butler and Adebayo, as well as staying aggressive off-the-dribble. After suffering a hamstring injury in the Hawks series, Lowry looked like a complete shell of himself the remainder of the postseason. He clearly wasn’t the same — should he stay healthy, he’s one of the most effective true point guards in the sport. That might be a big ask, but an in-shape Lowry could help Miami get over the hump.
Guard | 6’5” | 195 lbs. | Age: 22
2021-22 stats (66 games): 20.7 PPG | 5.0 RPG | 4.0 APG | 44.7 FG% | 39.9 3P% | 56.1 TS% | 16.2 PER
Skinny: Herro’s name has surfaced in practically every trade rumor this offseason. If anything, that’s an indication to how talented he is as Miami’s most valuable player outside of Adebayo and Butler (and perhaps even Lowry). The 22-year-old won the Sixth Man of the Year award by a near-unanimous vote — making considerable strides as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, as a spot-up and off-the-dribble shooter and as a playmaker. He sparked Miami’s offense countless times when it looked mundane; while defenses starting unleashing more aggressive coverages — specifically blitzing — against him, he endured his struggles, but became more comfortable (when healthy) by the season’s end, which is also a testament to his renowned skillset. If he’s not moved prior to the 2022-23 season, he’s likely to earn a contract extension that could exceed $25 million per year — which is rightfully deserved. He’s a polarizing player, but he’s only going to get better with more reps — especially in an increased role.
Guard | 6’5” | 215 lbs. | Age: 26
2021-22 stats (68 games): 10.6 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 44.1 FG% | 41.0 3P% | 61.4 TS% | 12.7 PER
Skinny: Strus evidently climbed his way up the totem pole, earning the starting job without relinquishing it the rest of the season. He was one of Miami’s most potent 3-point shooters — knocking down 41 percent of his triples, including 41.3 percent on spot-up attempts (5.4 3PA). Strus showcased adequate handle when he put the rock on the deck and has shown flashes of finishing around the rim, though there’s plenty of room for improvement. Strus’ floor spacing was integral for Butler and Adebayo, but he’s shown to be incredibly useful as a cutter and off-ball relocater. If he continue improving defensively — which he did profusely throughout the season — as well as some of the other playmaking departments, Strus will last in the league for a long time. He’s incredibly important to their wing depth and shooting; he was at the forefront of the league’s best 3-point shooting team. Not very many can say that.
Guard | 6’4” | 215 lbs. | Age: 30
2021-22 stats (8 games): 12.4 PPG | 2.9 RPG | 3.5 APG | 47.9 FG% | 41.7 3P% | 60.8 TS% | 16.8 PER
Skinny: Oladipo’s return last year got off a bumpy start. Not individually; the team couldn’t find its footing with his integration into the rotation, ultimately leading to a rotation change that included him getting squeezed out for most of the regular season. Though Oladipo’s name was called multiple times throughout the postseason — and man did he responded. He tallied a game-high 23 points in the series-clinching Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks; he registered 19 points off-the-bench in Game 2 against the Philadelphia 76ers, scoring 13 or more two other times in that series; he flustered Jaylen Brown in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, racking up four crucial steals in 20 second-half minutes after Jimmy Butler exited after one half due to a knee injury; he was Miami’s only source of offense the following contest, tallying 23 points. And now that Oladipo has his first fully healthy offseason since entering the 2018-19 season, his rim pressure, defense and shotmaking capabilities could be the strongest we’ve seen in some time. His importance as the presumptive sixth man — if Herro starts — is immense.
Forward | 6’7” | 215 lbs. | Age: 28
2021-22 stats (79 games): 10.9 PPG | 2.6 RPG | 39.9 FG% | 37.2 3P% | 57.3 TS% | 10.6 PER
Skinny: Yes, I know — Robinson was played out of the rotation by season’s end. But believe it or not, when he plays consistent minutes with any reasonable amount of confidence — Robinson is one of the best shooters on the planet. He didn’t have either of those two things last year — at least for most of the tail-end. He’s improved defensively over his career, though he’ll still pick up silly fouls and has the propensity to get picked on. And yet, Robinson **still** provides respect offensively — knocking down 40 percent of his 3s while leveraging plenty of gravity and floor spacing for others to operate. The question then becomes whether or not he’ll receive any (consistent) opportunity to showcase it or not.
Guard | 6’3” | 200 lbs. | Age: 26
2021-22 stats (68 games): 8.7 PPG | 3.1 APG | 0.9 SPG | 41.7 FG% | 36.8 3P% | 55.1 TS% | 10.6 PER
Skinny: Vincent is the only true backup point guard on the roster. He broke out in 2021-22 and could add more layers to his arsenal this upcoming season, given Lowry’s age. Vincent tweaked his shot prior to last year and led to a very efficient 3-point shooting season, though there will be improvement to be had inside-the-arc for the budding 26-year-old. Vincent was one of Miami’s feistiest point-of-attack defenders, helping spearhead its 2-2-1 press and its 2-3 zone, using his 6-foot-7 wingspan to compensate for any lack of lateral mobility. Vincent did an admirable job providing sustainable two-way play last year, and his importance as the backup point guard will only grows without any others on the roster.
Forward | 6’5” | 205 lbs. | Age: 26
2021-22 stats (60 games): 9.2 PPG | 3.8 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 50.7 FG% | 41.3 3P% | 61.1 TS% | 14.8 PER
Skinny: From a two-way contract to....starting at power forward a year later? While that might’ve not been the first option — that might ultimately be the reality for Caleb Martin entering the 2022-23 season. Thus, he’s important. He signed a three-year, $20.5 million deal in the offseason in one of the league’s most feel good stories, but his importance lies solely on the court; Martin was one of Miami’s top energy spark plugs off the bench last season, making his presence known on both ends. That initially came when Butler was out (via injury) mid-way through the season and lasted throughout the rest of the season. Martin can get out of control with the ball, at times, but he still shined as a spot-up shooter and was of Miami’s top rim pressure generators when dams were walled-off late in possessions. Without P.J. Tucker, the 26-year-old could be expected to be key centerpiece to Miami’s frontcourt.
Center | 7’0” | 245 lbs. | Age: 32
2021-22 stats (67 games): 6.3 PPG | 5.8 RPG | 55.6 FG% | 63.2 TS% | 15.9 PER
Skinny: Dedmon had a rough second season with Miami, but he can still bridge the non-Adebayo minutes well enough during the regular season to where it won’t become a problem. We know he will fight on the glass and attempt to block every shot coming his way. He’s not a poor drop defender and will (occasionally) knock down a triple from above-the-break. If he’s healthy, he’ll give Miami 10-15 good minutes a night — and that’s all they’ll need him for.
Center | 7’0” | 265 lbs. | Age: 24
2021-22 stats (56 games): 5.3 PPG | 5.3 RPG | 52.6 FG% | 54.6 TS% | 17.4 PER
Skinny: After putting on an absolute clinic during Summer League last year, Yurtseven was one of the many success stories within the Heat organization. Malik Allen and Udonis Haslem helped build Yurtseven’s toughness up profusely behind closed doors, helping buoy a productive rookie campaign for the 24-year-old. He was the team’s best (offensive) rebounder and seemingly gobbled up every board that crossed his path — even though he sparingly had trouble hauling in passes on the offensive end. Yurtseven slowly improved as a drop defender and sparingly became useful as a passer — like Adebayo at the beginning of his career. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two start multiple times together this season, either.
Forward | 6’7” | 220 lbs. | Age: 25
2021-22 stats with Heat (19 games): 43 PTS | 26 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 46.6 TS%
Skinny: With a scarsity of 4s on the roster, Highsmith fits directly into that backup slot. His physical traits resemble a prototypical 3-and-D wing, but Highsmith will have to consistently hit the 3 in order to completely fit that mold. He’s an active, multipositional defender that’s capable of defending 2-4 at the NBA level. He’ll be primarily a spot-up threat and a potential hand-off initiator offensively, but his defense will be important in the opportunities presented to him throughout the season.
Forward | 6’10” | 210 lbs. | Age: 19
Skinny: Jovic is the team’s only rookie it drafted — No. 27 overall — on the active roster. Darius Days is the only other, pending the training camp results of Orlando Robinson, Jamaree Bouyea and Jamal Cain. Jovic, a 19-year-old 6-foot-11 point-forward from Serbia, will be a developmental project for Miami. His excellent ballhandling and playmaking ability stands out, but the Heat will presumably use him in the frontcourt initially — a task he’s admitted is new to him. His development will be important long-term.