Well, I never thought that in this generation we’d see the king of Miami, Dwyane Wade, depart to Chicago. I’d never thought that we would dump so much money into Tyler Johnson. I’d never thought that Pat Riley would risk everything in going for a Kevin Durant (who is now the most hated player in the NBA). I’d never thought we’d lose strong pieces of Miami’s core this past summer, but oh well…..That’s life. It’s certainly out with the old and in with the new. Take Miami’s roster from last year and scratch out the following names: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, and Dorrell Wright. Now the starting lineup is Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson until Josh Richardson recovers from his MCL tear, and Josh McRoberts. Throw in a vengeful Dion Waiters and a bunch of used pencils and you have the Heat’s bench.
Let’s look at the positives. As a Miami fan, you don’t have to constantly worry about the best player’s health. You have nothing but optimism and hope to feel. Hassan Whiteside has become a top-5, big man in the NBA. Goran Dragic finally has no excuses about his performance. This is his year to prove he can still return to his Most Improved Player of the Year self from the 2014 NBA season. Justise Winslow is coming off of a year where he made All-Rookie second-team. Josh Richardson clearly showed he was a steal in the second round.
Richardson was a valuable asset last season and during the playoffs. He had a myriad of highlights and was snubbed a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team with his teammate, Winslow. Tyler Johnson before his injury was a reliable weapon off of the bench. Dion Waiters hasn’t lived up to the hype of being a former star from the Syracuse basketball program. Fortunately, he is a low risk, high reward kind of player. Miami made a short-term, low-cost deal with Waiters. This year’s Miami team might scratch the bottom of the playoff seeding. The East is just that weak. I do feel, however, they won’t win more than 45 games. Miami should have a steady 42 – 40 season.
Not So Negatives
The problem with young promising teams is that there is no established role model. Winslow and Richardson showed maturity as they shadowed the seasoned veterans. However, Whiteside showed time and time again that he might still have some maturing creases to iron out. Now his attitude is definitely going to have an effect on the rest of the team. There are so many new faces to this team that it will take some time for coach Erik Spoelstra to form some sort of glue between these players.
“I’m learning about this group, Spoelstra said. I’m evaluating. We’re building a connection.”
In addition, a lot of the current roster signed short-term, cheap deals. This means that either Pat Riley has no intention of keeping them or won’t have any patience with these guys. This kind of uncertainty will cause a rift in chemistry. The entire bench is expendable. Riley is an all-or-none kind of guy. Going for the Big-3 was a risk, giving up all the draft picks we had was a risk, placing hope in free-agents is a risk, GOING FOR DURANT WAS A RISK.
If you’ve been a Miami Heat fan as long as I have, you know that Pat Riley can be a genius. You can assure yourself that Riley is working up another risk. This year’s upcoming free agent list is huge, despite possible, intriguing trade possibilities. Upcoming free agent names include Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Kyle Lowry. Those are just a few names up on the board.
It’s Gonna Be Rough…
Miami, it’s gonna be a rough ride. There was a time when Miami sports were at the pinnacle of the sports world. The Miami Dolphins went undefeated with Bob Griese leading the charge, the Big-3 brought two championships to Miami, The Hurricanes were the best and toughest college football program in the mid to late 80’s and early 2000’s, and the Marlins accumulated two world series titles in 1997 and 2003 (as well as the National League Championship in those same years).
Just this year Miami sports fans lost two of the biggest Miami sports stars ever in Wade and Jose Fernandez. The Dolphins look like they’ll never rebuild. I mean, I feel I’m with everyone when I say it’s time to move on from Tannehilll. At least the Hurricanes are performing well. Despite the recent loss to FSU, the Hurricanes are ranked 16th in the nation. Times are going to be rough for a couple of years in Miami. Even with no clear star in Miami sports but Whiteside and maybe Brad Kaaya, Miami sporting events will still have decent turnouts. We’ll know who the real Miami fans are now between 2016 and 2018.