OK, so have you ever played the game NEVER HAVE I EVER in high school? It usually entails a group of people saying “never have I ever” followed by something they’ve never done or imagined. Well, never have I ever imagined the Miami Heat going on an eye opening 12-game win streak. Never have I ever thought of Dion Waiters to be in the discussion of Miami’s future. Never have I ever thought of a player who bounced around the world playing basketball for different clubs and now has the potential to be in the discussion of the best big men of all time. Also, who’s to say he can’t make the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done?
So, there’s a few things we need to discuss. The most surprising subject of the season for the Heat is the rising of Dion Waiters. During this 12-game winning streak, he’s averaged 20.8 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. I can’t be sure if this is just a hot spot in the season for him. However, 33 points against the Bucks followed by another 33 points on the Golden State Warriors, aren’t numbers to just gloss over. He also hit 21 over Atlanta. Keep in mind these are not average teams. These are playoff caliber teams. I’m not going to jinx it and say Miami has found their replacement for Wade. Just a reminder, the possibility of Wade returning to Miami is still highly possible.
Kudos to Goran Dragic. Despite the hurricane of trade rumors surrounding him, he’s managed to stay consistent and carry the bulk of the Heat’s offensive production alongside of Hassan Whiteside. Dragic has averaged 21 ppg, 6 assts, and 1.2 stls per game.
He’s has told reporters,
“We don’t use excuses, we just try to man up and try to get out there and do our jobs.”
Adding to that, Whiteside is simply a cheat code. He’s 7 feet tall and nimble enough as a big that he can score at will. He’s proved last year’s production was not a fluke at all and that Miami really came up on a gem here. Whiteside is documenting impressive numbers this year. He’s averaging 17 ppg, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Let’s not overlook his usage and player efficiency rating in 21.68.
There’s also two names that definitely need to be shown some appreciation. The $50 million Riley chose to use on Tyler Johnson instead of Wade is starting to comfort Miami fans. Tyler Johnson has shown he’s a capable backup point and can disrupt on both ends of the floor. He’s more of a shooting guard though. He’s producing the fourth most points on the team as well.
James Johnson is by far having the best season of his career despite his numbers not being flashy. He reminds me of another once feared Miami forward that was known for his intangibles (look up Udonis Haslem). Johnson has a major effect on the floor and stands up for his teammates. Players like James and Tyler Johnson, and Wayne Ellington will most likely resign with the Heat next Season.
As I stated before, Miami fans shouldn’t be worried especially with the success of the Heat so far. Miami was in the debate for the No.1 or No.2 draft spot. Now Miami is scratching that eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Obviously with more success the chances for a top-5 pick slip. Miami could end up in the bottom half of the lottery. In my honest opinion, Miami needs a solid reliable Power Forward. Somewhere along the lines of TJ Leaf out of UCLA or maybe even Ivan Rabb out of California. Nonetheless, the point of the draft is to take the best possible and available prospect. Rumors are arising that De’Aron Fox out of Kentucky would help shape the franchises future. He’s lightning athletic, a pesky defender, and can score the ball even with his smaller frame.
Never have I ever thought that the Miami Heat would be in this spot in the latter half of the year. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra deserves high praises. He’s somehow been able to gel almost 9 players that have never played together. That’s pretty impressive.
“It’s more about a group of players coming together to form an identity as a team to embrace each other, embrace a culture, embrace defending with a purpose,”
says Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra.
Whatever the Heat are doing, they need to replicate this for the remainder of the season in hopes for a playoff berth.