1-Okaro. 2-Okaro. 3-Okaro. 4-Okaro. 5-Okaro. 6-Okaro. 7-Okaro. 8-Okaro. 9-Okaro. 10-Okaro. 11-Okaro. 12-Okaro. 13-Okaro. That’s how bad it got for the Heat last season. After opening the season 11-30 and enduring multiple injuries, the Heat signed Okaro White to a ten-day contract. Fans started counting wins in Okaros. 1-Okaro. 2-Okaro. 3-Okaro. 4-Okaro. 5-Okaro. 6-Okaro. 7-Okaro. 8-Okaro. 9-Okaro. 10-Okaro. Pat Riley ain’t no dummy, so he signed White to another ten-day contract. Hey, when you at the craps table, you gotta just keep pressing. Unfortunately, the win…I mean Okaro streak ended at 13, but the good fortune continued as the Heat became the first team in history to start the season 19 games under and finish with a .500 record. 11-30 then 30-11 to end 41-41. Would that be a dyslexic’s worst nightmare or wet dream?
2016 record: 41-41
With a full offseason with Okaro White, the Heat should be legitimate contenders this season. I kid about the Okaro part, but the Heat should be one of the top eight teams in the East. Much depends on health, but also how the chemistry develops due to roles being redefined. There’s no superstar on this squad, but there are some very, very good players. Spoelstra is a great coach, so I have no doubt that he’ll be able to figure things out and guide this team to success.
PG – Goran “The Dragon” Dragic has always been a favorite of mine. He can shoot, break a defender down off the dribble, run the PnR, and set up his teammates for open looks. What I really like about Dragic is his fearlessness and toughness. He doesn’t take shit from anyone. He averaged over 20 ppg for the first time last season, the usage rate was a career-high 27%, and he averaged 15 field goal attempts a game. I think much of that was due to the plethora of injuries the Heat suffered last season, so expect all those numbers to come down this season. With that said, he’s still going to be a very productive player. Tyler Johnson is second on the depth chart and his numbers should all come down as well. He played close to 30 mpg and averaged 13.7 ppg. I think you can subtract around five from each category.
SG – Josh Richardson only played in 53 games last season. When he did play, he showed that he could fill the stat sheet across the board. There’s talk that he could vie for the starting position at small forward, but regardless, he should get plenty of run. Dion Waiters had his own injury issues last season, as he only played in 46 games. When he did play, though, Waiters Island was open to the public. If Richardson does start at small forward, then Waiters would presumably start at shooting guard. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Waiters should soak up minutes and usage. Wayne Ellington’s option was picked up for $6.3 million. With all the injuries the Heat experienced, it makes sense as Ellington showed the ability to score and shoot the three. That’s pretty much all he does, though. When the Heat are at full strength, it’s going to be tough for Ellington to get significant minutes.
SF – Justise Winslow, the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, is expected to be back at full strength after missing most of the 2016 season with a torn rotator cuff injury. He has decent form on his J, but the shooting percentage is pretty bad. Winslow does board, pilfer, and drop some dimes. As mentioned above, the Heat have been entertaining thoughts of starting Richardson at small forward. That would obviously be a huge detriment to Winslow’s value. Rodney McGruder looks to be a non-factor if everyone stays healthy.
PF – James Johnson was one of five players to be in the 1/1/1 club: one three-pointer made, one steal, and one block. He only started five games last season, but he should be the guy this year. He really can do it all and is one of my favorite mid-round targets. Kelly Olynyk was acquired in free agency and will be a backup player at both the 4 and 5 positions. He gives Spoelstra a big man that can stretch the floor. Okaro White. He will probably make the opening night roster but get sent down after that. There’s no way Riley lets White get scooped up by another squad right?
C – Hassan Whiteside is the highest-paid player on the Heat roster at $23 million per year. And for good reason. He was fourth in the NBA with 58 double-dubs last season. He’s a beast on the glass and is always among the leaders in blocks. Edrice “Bam” Adebayo is second on the depth chart. He looked absolutely amazing in Summer League. We knew he could block shots and rebound, but the shot and moves in the open court were eye-opening. Minutes will be tough to get for Bam, but if he balls out, I could see him carving out a nice little role for himself.