Five Predictions for the 2017-18 Miami Heat
In an NBA offseason full of superstars changing home addresses, the Miami Heat’s offseason flew under the radar. The team committed a combined $154 million to returning players Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Josh Richardson. While also signing former Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk to a four year $50 million contract. Pat Riley is bringing back the core of a Heat team that went on a second half resurgence and posted a 30-11 record, yet fell short of the playoffs.
The team is built with a foundation of youth for years to come as Waiters, Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and this year’s first round draft pick Bam Adebayo are all 25 years or younger. The main concern for the Heat is the team’s flexibility in the future. The team has already committed to $147 million in salaries for the 2018-19 season. Before looking too far ahead, let’s take a look at the upcoming season for the Miami Heat.
Here are five predictions about the Miami Heat’s 2017-18 season:
Dion Waiters makes the All-Star team
After signing a one-year contract with the Heat, Waiters surpassed expectations and posted the best season of his career. He averaged 15.8 points per game and 4.3 assist per game. He also became an instant fan favorite. Waiters’ confidence never failed to entertain and continued to even in the offseason. When there were rumors of the Heat acquiring Kyrie Irving, Waiters let it be known there is already an “alpha male” in Miami.
With this mentality heading into this season, Waiters should continue to elevate his game and become the Heat’s number one option. The Eastern Conference lost All-Stars Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Millsap. Someone will need to fill those spots. Enter Waiters County.
Goran Dragic averages a career high in points
With two and a half seasons in Miami under his belt, Dragic continued to be the high tempo point guard the Heat have spent years searching for. Last season, he tied his career high in points per game with 20.1. Dragic also had a great offseason as his team won a gold medal at the European basketball championship. “The Dragon” will come into the season extra motivated and if his running mate, Waiters continues to develop even further, the Heat will have one of the a scariest backcourts in the league.
The team finishes Top 5 in Defensive Rating
One aspect of the Heat’s team that is often overlooked is their defense. In the previous two seasons, the team finished in the top seven in Defensive Rating. With solid defenders such as Winslow, Richardson and Johnson the Heat will once again have one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Let’s not forget Hassan Whiteside, who led the league in rebounding and averaged 2.1 blocks per game. With these players on the roster, The Heat will finish in the top five in Defensive Rating.
The Heat make a solid run in the playoffs
Let’s face reality; the Eastern Conference is extremely weak. There are only two teams that are legitimate title contenders, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics. The Heat’s odds of making the playoffs are solid. When they make the playoffs, the team will make a solid run and reach the semi-finals. The Heat possess the talent on the roster to be a top five team in the East. Just imagine how much fun would it be to see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade return to Miami in a playoff series.
Erik Spoelstra finally receives the recognition he deserves
Coach Spo is one of the best coaches in the league. Last season, he finished in the final three for the Coach of the Year Award. He has two NBA championships on his resume. As he enters his 10th season as the Heat’s head coach, Spoelstra must receive the recognition he deserves. In his 10-year career, Spoelstra has coached one team with a losing record. What more must he do to be mentioned in the conversation for best coach?
Yes, many will argue he had James and Wade for a majority of his career; however, Coach Spo’s work ethic and defensive mentality should never be questioned. Even if the Heat do not make a deep playoff, Spoelstra should, again, finish in the top three for the Coach of the Year Award.
Sources: NBA, Basketball-Reference