Few teams have had the Jeckell-&-Hyde season as the Miami Heat had in 2017.
Going from a dismal 11-30 record that had talks of tanking be plausible to flipping that record around and barely missing the NBA playoffs was one of the best stories in the league. Now with the Heat about to start their 30th season on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic it’s time to look at how the team will look into the team hopes to capitalize on last season’s late push.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Dion Waiters
SF: Justise Winslow
PF: Kelly Olynyk
C: Hassan Whiteside
The backcourt of Dragic and Waiters showed great chemistry for Miami last season thanks to how their playing styles complemented each other. Both want to push the pace of play which fits well with the full court transition game that Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra likes to implement. Dragic will likely still have his minutes watched after his most successful summer in international play with a gold medal campaign in EuroBasket which earned him MVP honors. Luckily for him Waiters, who is coming off a career year, has shown that he can handle the point well and has the confidence to take over the game if needed.
Winslow at the three can be seen as a default due to forward Rodney McGruder being out with a stress fracture that required surgery early Tuesday. While still not completely finding his shooting touch his defense and ball handling makes him a valuable asset in Miami’s starting five.
Olynyk, who signed with the Heat as a free agent in the summer, has had an adversarial history with Whiteside in years past but has meshed well with him during the pre-season. Not only is he able to hold his own in the paint when it comes to rebounding, his perimeter shooting will free up Whiteside from double teams inside. Whiteside, as was evident in his brief Twitter feud with Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, will still have a chip on his shoulder throughout games. He’ll still be a guaranteed double-double for Miami as long as he keeps improving on staying out of foul trouble.