2016 Off-Season Preview: Miami Heat
Record (48-34) The 2015-16 season for the Miami Heat was far from boring and had continuous obstacles throughout that they needed to overcome. Although not easy, it was an improvement from the season prior. In 2014-15, Miami failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, after making it to the Finals four years in a row. They weren’t even able to muster up a .500 record, finishing tenth in the Eastern Conference at 37-45. A large part may have been after just 44 games; Chris Bosh’s season was cut short due to being assessed with blood clots in his lungs. The Heat would struggle the rest of the way and Dwyane Wade ultimately ran out of help. A year later Miami made changes to their roster that would shake up their line-up entirely. They would draft Justice Winslow and Jason Richardson for needed youth and sign Gerald Green in the off-season for athleticism on the wing. They traded Mario Chalmers to save $4.5 million and moved Tyler Johnson up to the backup point guard position. Finally they would pick up Joe Johnson after the trade deadline passed due to his agreement to a buyout by the Brooklyn Nets to give this team another veteran presence in the locker room and for his three point shooting prowess. Led by their proven coach in Eric Spoelstra, this added defense, youth and shooting, would force Miami to learn how to mesh together. Just as everything seemed to be coming together for this squad, Bosh’s season would be derailed again by blood clots, this time in his calves. Again they would lose their superstar with hopes of a deep playoff run, but this time with more help for Wade, they would make a run at it. They would finish the season 48-34 (an 11 game win increase) and third in the Eastern Conference. The first round presented them with a young, resilient Charlotte Hornets team that would push them to seven games. Although being tested, Miami would finish this series how they started the season, with a home win against this Hornets team. Next up would be the Toronto Raptors, and again Miami would go to a seventh game to determine an opponent for the Cleveland Cavaliers. There would have been storylines aplenty with a Dwyane vs. Lebron series but it was not in the cards for this Miami team that season would come to an end in the six. Although Miami didn’t make it to where they wanted, they did make huge strides in the right direction to being a championship contender again soon. With the season coming to a close for them, they began planning for what believes to be an eventful off-season. Miami has needs for this roster, but not many to become a legitimate title threat. First, they must make resigning Hassan Whiteside their main priority as shot blocking of his stature is a rarity in this now small-ball infatuated NBA. Now whether they are able to bring him back to Miami or not, they still need to address the position and there will be plenty of options on the free agent market. They have players like Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Bismack Biyombo, Festus Ezeli and more that could all be prime contenders to sign with Miami. If they can bring back Whiteside and sign at least one of these defensive threats, their front court will be solidified as one of the more daunting to go against in the league. Next, they lack draft picks, which may not be a bad thing. As great as a young talent with potential for the future is to have on a roster, he would lack experience for a team that has a win-now mentality with players like Wade and Bosh nearing the end of their primes. This is where Pat Riley and his salesman techniques come into play. Kevin Durant is on the market and is looking to win rings. So was another superstar forward a few years ago and Riley was able to grant his wish. Durant could follow a similar path to Lebron James and take his talents to South Beach. Durant would possibly have more overall talent surrounding him in an inferior Eastern Conference that would only present Lebron and the Cavaliers as a worthy opponent. This could give Miami a huge chance to sign him if he so chooses to leave Oklahoma City. The Heat can also hopefully look towards having Chris Bosh at their disposal as they try to continue to trend upwards with championship aspirations in mind.
NBA Off-Season Previews
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics – Brooklyn Nets – New York Knicks – Philadelphia 76ers – Toronto Raptors Central Division: Chicago Bulls – Cleveland Cavaliers – Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers – Milwaukee Bucks Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks – Charlotte Hornets – Miami Heat – Orlando Magic – Washington Wizards Southwest Division: Dallas Mavericks – Houston Rockets – Memphis Grizzlies – New Orleans Pelicans – San Antonio Spurs Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets – Minnesota Timberwolves – Oklahoma City Thunder – Portland Trail Blazers – Utah Jazz Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors – Los Angeles Clippers – Los Angeles Lakers – Phoenix Suns – Sacramento Kings