The 2018-19 season for the Miami Heat was an interesting one — Dwayne Wade‘s final year, tricky contracts and the wait for a young star to step up. The Heat finished 39-43, just outside the Eastern Conference playoffs. The mid-year injury to all-star point guard Goran Dragic brought a desperate need for leadership. Young small forward Justice Winslow was given the opportunity to take hold over the starting point guard position, and what looked like promise became an unsteady role from lack of experience. The uprising of Josh Richardson brought great hope for the future. He averaged 16.6 points a game, which led the team and contributed 4.1 assists per game as well. With Richardson and Bam Adebayo being the cornerstones of the future, the Heat can still keep an edge even with all the bad contracts.
About those contracts — the Heat have arguably the worst group of them in the NBA. With Hassan Whiteside and Dragic, who have opted into their player options for next year, 27.1 million and 19.2 million respectively, and with James Johnson making 15.3 million next year, the Heat lack any room to sign a much-needed star. And with Pat Rileys efforts to move those contracts during the past year, no buyers were ever available. Although it was special to see the legendary Wade play his final year, many think that if the focus wasn’t on him — which of course couldn’t have happened — the Heat would have been a playoff team this past year.
The Miami Heat held the 13th pick in the NBA draft and traded for the 44th pick before the draft. It was clear that the Heat were looking at taking a wing player who could help score some points. And with the 13th pick, they got that. Many thought Kevin Porter Jr. would be the man, but Tyler Herro from Kentucky was the one Pat Riley selected. This 19-year-old shooting guard was drafted for his ability to do one thing, put the ball in the hoop, something the Heat lacked last season. At 6′ 5″, 194 Lbs, the young kid provides an athletic and shooting boost to a team with no dominant shooter, after dealing away Wayne Ellington.
The Heat made a bold move at the beginning of the second round, when they traded three second-round picks to the rights of the 32nd pick from the Indiana Pacers, who ended up being KZ Okpala. The 6′ 9″ wing from Stanford has a reliable game as he can run in transition and shot 37% in college. The main question is, was he worth three second-round picks? The Heat traded the 44th overall pick to the Denver Nuggets for a future second rounder and cash considerations. The pick ended up being Bol Bol, who many Heat fans wanted and were saddened to see him dealt. Overall, the Heat got two guys who could help the scoring and Herro can become one of the best shooters on this team.
The Miami Heat have a very deep team, with many young players who can still make their case for belonging. The need is a star player to put it all together. Dragic and Whiteside have both shown they don’t have what it takes to lead this team deep into the playoffs. A star can player could gel all these solid role players together to form a strong team. Another need is outside shooting. In a league that lives and dies by the three, shooting is a must. The Heat lack it as not one starter has the main attribute to shoot the three ball. That is the reason for bringing in Herro from the draft — look for the Heat to find a few veteran shooters in free agency.
The first thing management needs to accomplish, is getting rid of those bad contracts, the ones we talked upon earlier. This will be a difficult task as not one team seemed interested in Dragic or Whiteside, let alone a James Johnson or Dion Waiters. Any cap space clearing will have to be done in order to make any improvements to this team. Let’s say Dragic and Whiteside can’t be dealt and stay for their final year with the team, the team should focus on building that trio of Justice Winslow, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo from last year. In free agency, the Heat must look for three and D guys who can provide some leadership, maybe a JJ Reddick? Who ever it is, if the Heat don’t make any improvements fast before the season starts, expect another similar year like the last one.
This team has a few things going for them, and a few going against. But from my view, this team has better things going for them then worse. The youth is there and the development looks like it’s just beginning. Last year we saw Richardson step up, this year maybe it will be Winslow, Adebayo or Derrick Jones Jr. The Heat not being able to deal Whiteside or Dragic will likely leave them apart of this team for one last year. Because of this, the Heat don’t have much wiggle room to truly improve, but hopefully, the young shooter Herro can become a nice role player and maybe even a true sixth man for now. Many can blame management for the large contracts, but at times, the flow of the youth has brought mass excitement, and that will only continue in South Beach for many years to come.
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