The master architect of the hardwoods, Miami Heat President Pat Riley, and his management team once again had the most successful offseason of any team in the NBA. Yet, a few injuries throughout the course of this upcoming season like last year could completely derail this team’s title hopes going forward.
Still, as the current roster stands, the Heat are arguably one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and have plenty of reasons to believe that a return to the NBA Finals is not out of the question if they can get past old friend, LeBron James and the Eastern Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
One of the major pitfalls the Heat fell into last season was a lack of quality depth off the bench. The issue has been addressed this summer with the additions of both Gerald Green and Amare Stoudemire on minimum contracts, and the return of Josh McRoberts from his season-ending injury. The Heat’s starters can now rest for longer periods of time and preserve their bodies for a rigorous playoff run with substantial replacements on the bench.
Although the sample size was small, Hassan Whiteside proved last season that he can become one of the best centers in the Eastern Conference with his surprising production. Whiteside will now reap the benefits of a full training camp and preseason with the team and continue to improve upon his already stellar averages of 11.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
Justise Winslow wasn’t pegged as a candidate for Rookie of the Year this upcoming season with so much talent ahead of him in the draft, but his value to the Heat’s second unit will become much more apparent once the season starts. Winslow’s ability to guard multiple positions while maintaining ridiculous athleticism in the open court make him an ideal candidate to become a top sixth man for the Heat.
After an extremely hot start, Chris Bosh endured a blood clot in his lungs and was forced to shut it down midway through the 2015-16 season. Many speculate this was the reason the Heat ultimately did not make the playoffs. Bosh has had plenty of time to get healthy and will comeback this season stronger and more determined than ever. With such a solid starting lineup, Bosh won’t be relied upon as much to carry the load for the Heat.
Both Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade didn’t get much time to acclimate to each other’s respective games last season as the Heat were in the midst of a playoff seed pursuit. With a full training camp and regular season ahead of them, Dragic and Wade could become one of the best backcourt combos in Heat history, and more importantly, the Eastern Conference. The million dollar question will be the aging legs of D-Wade and his ability to make it into the second season healthy?
Cavaliers and Bulls Still Will Be Beasts of The East
LeBron, Love and Kyree healthy with the addition of Mo Williams and some bench strength should be enough to give Cleveland a return ticket to the NBA Finals. Chicago, Atlanta and Washington will be formidable challengers along with a healthy Heat squad to make for an exciting NBA season.
Curry and Warriors best in the West as returning Champions
League MVP Steph Curry and the returning NBA Champion starting five in Golden State will once again be hard to beat, but repeats are harder to come by these days in professional sports.
One team that is always there in the playoffs and looks to have improved the most this off season out west are the San Antonio Spurs adding big man LaMarcus Aldridge and David West. This will give Tim Duncan some rest during the season. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard resigning was also huge for Popovich’s Spurs.
Other teams to keep an eye on out west will be Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets
Carl Foster is the host/founder of “The Good Sports Magazine Show” now in it’s10th season, airing worldwide every Friday LIVE from 12 noon to 1pm exclusively on www.GraceNetRadio.com.