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NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Miami Heat: Riley’s Master Plan

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Mar 17, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (tight) talks with Heat center Hassan Whiteside (left) during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (tight) talks with Heat center Hassan Whiteside (left) during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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Mar 17, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (tight) talks with Heat center Hassan Whiteside (left) during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 17, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (tight) talks with Heat center Hassan Whiteside (left) during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 17, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (tight) talks with Heat center Hassan Whiteside (left) during the first half against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Miami Heat: Riley’s Master Plan

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents. Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profile:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at the Miami Heat. Incredibly this season marks the start of a new era as their two remaining super stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh move on.  With all due respect to Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic the moves made by Pat Riley feel like he has a grand plan in mind.

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview: Miami Heat

2015-16 Record: 48 -34

Playoffs:

Lost NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals (3-4) versus Toronto Raptors

Oct 30, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) grabs for a loose ball in front of San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Spurs won 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Points Per Game: 100.0 (23rd )

Opponent Points Per Game:  98.4 (5th)

Pace: 93.6 (25th )

Offensive Rank: 106.1 (14th )

Defensive Rank:  104.4 (9th)

Three Point Rank:  33.6% (27th)

Rebounds: 44.1  (13th)

Assists: 20.8 (13th)

Steals: 6.7 (27th)

Blocks: 6.5 (1st)

Turnovers: 14.1 (14th)

Next: Future postioning - draft, free agents

Oct 20, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) during the second half of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. Hornets win 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

  • Josh McRoberts, PO
  • Derrick Williams
  • James Johnson
  • Udonis Haslem
  • Luke Babbit

All free agent updates confirmed via Basketball Reference and Sportrak

May 9, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts (4) is pressured by Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) during the fourth quarter in game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won in overtime 94-87. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2018 second round draft pick from New Orleans

Outgoing:

  • 2017 second round draft pick to Atlanta Miami’s 2nd round pick to Atlanta protected for selections 31-40 in 2017 and unprotected in 2018 [Atlanta-Miami, 6/27/2013]
  • 2017 second round draft pick to Memphis Miami’s 2nd round pick to Memphis protected for selections 41-60 in 2017 and unprotected in 2018 [Charlotte-Memphis-Miami, 2/16/2016]
  • 2018 first round draft pick to Phoenix
  • 2019 second round draft pick to Minnesota
  • 2020 second round draft pick to Boston
  • 2021 first round draft pick to Phoenix
  • 2021 second round draft pick to Portland

Average Age of Team: 27.5 years (as per Real GM)

Next: Off Season Moves

Oct 26, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) passes the ball against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

No draft picks

2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

Restricted:

  • None

UnrestrictedDwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Gerald Green, Udonis Haslem, Amar’e Stoudemire, Beno Udrih, Dorell Wright

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting: 

May 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) gets ready for the first quarter in game seven of the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

  • Dwyane Wade deal is reportedly for 2-years, $47.5M as he heads home to Chicago
  • Luol Deng 4-year $72M with Lakers
  • Joe Johnson 2-year, $22M with Jazz
  • Gerald Green  1-year, $1.5M deal with Celtics
  • Amar’e Stoudemire retired from NBA will play overseas in Israel

Re-upping:

  • Hassan Whiteside 4-year, $98M
  • Tyler Johnson  Heat matched $50M offer sheet Nets offered
  • While the Heat  missed the boat with Dwyane Wade they decided to step up to the plate with  Udonis Haslem on a reported 1-year, $4M deal
  • Beno Udrih signs 1-year $1.5M deal

RFA Qualifying Offer:

  • See Johnson above

Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

Oct 30, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) grabs for a loose ball in front of San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Spurs won 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 36.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 12th with 0.47 extra wins

Considering the Heat are stuck way down in South Florida, their travel looks pretty favorable. However, Miami has a league-high 33 games against teams that will be more rested.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Tuesday January 17 at American Airlines Arena, in Miami, FL at 6:30 PM CT/7:30 ET
  • Wednesday February 15 at Toyota Center, in Houston, TX at 7PM CT/8PM ET

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 26th

But they have to prove they can do it in larger roles, and Richardson is coming off knee surgery. I’m bullish on Johnson as a rotation guy, but it’s objectively insane that the Heat have committed $50 million to a guy who has never even played 1,000 minutes in a season. (Random aside: Look for the league and union to change the obscure Gilbert Arenas rule so that matching teams can distribute salary more evenly across the length of a deal like Johnson’s.)

When Wade cut the cord, Miami scrambled to fill space with leftovers and low-basketball IQ risks. The team is a bit of mystery, without much for the eyes and ears — despite having approximately 87 jerseys. Let’s hope Erik Spoelstra swallows hard and plays James Johnson, who lives on the line between insanity and genius.

Next: Team Overview

Oct 28, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; NBA referee Rodney Mott (L) talks with Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (R) during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena. The Charlotte Hornets won 97-91. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Committed Salary

2016: $48,008,675 – 22nd ranked

2017: $101,372,443 – 14th ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard: Goran Dragic – 14.1 points, 5.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds

Shooting Guard:  Josh Richardson – 6.6 points, 1.4 assists, 2.1 rebounds (of note Richardson sprained his MCI preseason so he’ll be on the shelf initially, expect Waiters to replace him in the starting line-up)

Small Forward:  Justise Winslow – 6.4 points, 1.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds

Power Forward: Josh McRoberts – 3.6 points, 1.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds

Center:  Hassan Whiteside – 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds 3.7 blocks

Reserves:

Guards: Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson,

Wings: Luke Babbitt, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder

Bigs: Derrick Williams, Udonis Haslem, Willie Reed

Injury News:

  • Wayne Ellington – quad, no timetable for return
  • Josh McRoberts – foot, day to day
  • Josh Richardson – sprained MCI, targeting early November
  • Chris Bosh – blood clots, expected not to play this season

All injury news as per rotoworld

Next: Strengths, Weaknesses, Prediction

Sep 26, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) rips caution tape during photo day at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

Pat Riley and his fistful of rings: In case you hadn’t heard Riley is known to walk into recruitment pitches and throw down championship rings on the table. Hey when you own more than a handful of those babies it sure is an impressive selling tool, not to mention one no one else save for RC Buford and Popovich can come close to.

So, I’ve had this suspicion that Riley is intent on restructuring ever since Wade left and I won’t be surprised if the Heat are one of the Association’s bottom feeders. If I’m right then Riles will look to gain a top lottery pick and then polish those rings for next summer’s free agent market.

Eric Spoelstra: Having said that, I refer you to the last time Miami was without much talent other than Dwyane Wade.  With all due respect to Jamaal Magloire  the team Spoelstra had as a rookie coach in 2008-09 was expected to toil in the basement. Instead Spo got them to play solid defense which helped them to a fifth place Eastern Conference placement. Certainly this squad  offers more talent with Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and a bevy of youngsters.

So, the question will be whether Riley wants Spo to push the team to gain a lower playoff seed or if he wants the lottery pick. One way to get a hint will be playing time and whether the Heat look to take this season to develop talent. Conversely if Whiteside and Dragic are registering high 30’s playing time then it’s safe to assume they want the playoff berth.

Trio of Youngsters: Last season the smartest thing Eric Spoelstra did was put Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson in games during closing time and clutch situations. By the time the playoffs rolled around the trio was used to being in pressure filled situations and delivered. Look for the youngsters to build off that success with growth this season.

Weaknesses:

Roster depletion: Heading into free agency you may recall I suggested Pat Riley give Dwyane Wade the Kobe treatment. Unlike the Mamba, Wade took pay cuts TWICE. Cut to present and we know Wade is now back home in Chicago currently off to a great start with the Bulls.

Certainly the bigger issue was learning Heat Doctors were in disagreement with Chris Bosh’s docs and subsequently said he could not play for Miami this season.

Losing two super stars is a problem, but then factor in the other free agents who bailed like Luol Deng, Joe Johnson and Gerald Green.

To put this in perspective Eric Spoelstra has to replace:

  • 72.7 points per game
  • 13.3 assists per game
  • 22.7 rebounds per game
  • 4.3 steals per game
  • 2.0 blocks per game
  • 5.5 made three pointers

Suffice to say that’s a ton of production to replace!

Lack of bench depth specifically at PG and C : Obviously the entire team took a hit losing the players listed above but the bench got hit the worst. Specifically looking at the center position there is only one true center on the team and he’s starting (Whiteside). Likewise the point guard position has no other natural PG other than Dragic.

Three Point Shooting and Steals: The Heat ranked among the league worst in 3 point shooting (27th) and steals (27th) last season. It’s odd they were that low given the youngsters on the squad. They should improve this season without some of the slower vets on the squad.

More from Space City Scoop

Prediction:

Best Case: Spoelstra gets his youngsters to play with a quicker pace, they all show massive growth and the Heat land a lower seed.

Worst Case: I’m not sure missing the playoffs is really a bad situation for the Heat  because a top draft pick plus free agents who’ll come to shine Riley’s rings isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  So, I’ll go a different route. If (and it’s a big if) any team takes a chance on Bosh after the Heat finally release him  on waivers then the Heat will be forced to pay his outstanding salary.  That situation will last through to mid next season which is potentially why he’s still listed on the roster. I’m sure the financial people are trying to gain insurance money, but it’s definitely a dicey situation, especially with Bosh insistent he can still play.

FanSided Affiliate Site: All U Can Heat

Next: Atlanta Hawks 2016-17 Team Preview

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