The New Era in Miami
Something about this season in Miami feels off to me. I know they lost Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.I know that almost every piece of the 2010-2014 Heat is gone except for Udonis Haslem. I know all of these things, but still something feels off about this team. Their record right now is 2-3 at the early stages of the season, and everyone who is getting paid on the team is performing. Goran Dragic has 20 ppg and 7 apg, Hassan Whiteside has 19.8 ppg and 13.8 rpg, and even Tyler Johnson has 15.3 ppg, 4 rpg and 2 apg. I could go through and change that to Wade with 20 and 7, Bosh with 20 and 14, and Dragic with 15 and 4, you wouldn’t notice a difference from last season. But something is off about this season.
Having a record of 2-3 isn’t a terrible start for a team that just lost 2 All-Stars. All of their losses have ended in single digit losses. Their two wins were double digit wins, but there’s just something missing.
Let’s review their last game against the Raptors. If Terrence Ross doesn’t catch fire in this game, the Heat might have actually won it. Whiteside did a lot of Whiteside things. Got the highlight block grabbing the ball out of mid-air, and was getting a lot of put-back shots. Dragic played pretty much the same as last year but not like the good ol’ Dragon days at Phoenix, Tyler Johnson was knocking down threes, and Justise Winslow still needs to grow, but he still looks to me like he can turn into Kawhi Leonard 2.0. I really feel bad that Luol Deng left, I feel like Winslow could’ve really learned a lot from 2 or 3 seasons playing with him.
I’m certain the Heat will be in the lottery this year, but I’m also certain that if they wanted to, they could be in the playoffs. But the powers (Pat Riley), do not want that to happen. The Heat have talent, if Dragic can get back to his Phoenix days consistently, the Dragic/Whiteside pick-and-roll with shooters around should be deadly enough to get them in the playoffs. However, they will probably be one and done if they make it to the playoffs.
So for now, they will continue to try and grow their young players, try and develop their game and see who’s game is worth keeping.The team as a whole in these first five games are shooting around 43.8% and holding opponents to 39.9%. I will repeat that these are just statistics from the first five games.
Now that I have got that out of the way, there’s a point I’d like to make. The new Big 3 in Miami of Dragic, Johnson, and Whiteside have a player efficiency ratings of 22.5, 19.4, and 26.6 respectively. Now compare that to last season where Dragic, Wade, and Whiteside had 15, 20, and 25 respectively (I will mention that Chris Bosh had a PER of 20.2 as well). So the new Big 3 is out playing last year’s Big 3. Why does this year feel so different?
Wade’s PER is almost completely made up by Tyler Johnson, and Dragic and Whiteside have both gotten better. The per game stats aren’t the same, but Johnson isn’t Dwyane Wade. Even with the numbers similar, it still feels different. Almost like the energy is sucked out of this team. The players still expect to win every time they step on the court, but for me personally, it’s different without number 3 on the court.
Now whether you feel the same as me doesn’t matter, what does matter is that this team has talent. This team can win. Can they win the championship? Not a chance, but they can win games and they can make it to the playoffs. It is just up to the powers that be to decide if they want playoffs this year, or do they want draft picks. The Dragic trade has put them in a very difficult place. Here is a list of all of the draft picks that they owe to everyone over the next three years.
This year, they own their first round pick, and you know Pat Riley wants to make it a good one. Especially since everyone is calling this one of the most loaded drafts since 2004. So don’t judge this team by their win totals, judge them by their growth and development of their young players. Pat Riley will always make a winning team out of the Miami Heat.