'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #11 Miami Heat

By Rob Perez
None
facebooktwitter
  • Odds to win the 2015-2016 NBA Championship: 40:1
  • 2014-2015 Record: 37-45 (No Playoffs).
  • 2015 Draft Results:
    • Justise Winslow, Duke University (10th Overall)
    • Josh Richardson, University of Tennessee (40th Overall)
  • Key Offseason Additions: Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire
  • Key Offseason Losses: N/A
  • Projected Starting Lineup:
  • Player Salaries:
  • Season in Review

The Good: Chris Bosh is back to being an NBA superstar. I’m not sure if he ever left, but, with LeBron’s departure before the season: all Bosh did was put up 21.1 points/7.0 rebounds per game on 46% shooting and !!!38%!!! from behind the arc. Before his surgery, the acquisition of Goran Dragic, and the rise of Hassan Whiteside: the weight of the world fell on Bosh’ shoulders, and he responded…

In the 44 games that Chris played last season, the Heat won 19 of them – in those 19 games: Bosh averaged 23.7 points/8.1 rebounds/2.6 assists per game, 50% shooting from the field, and an astounding 42% from three-point land. Most importantly: the Heat recorded a +12.9 box score plus/minus when Bosh was on the floor during the 19 W’s. His importance to this franchise was often overshadowed by LeBron James during The King’s Heat tenure, and is still overshadowed by the great Dwyane Wade. Long story short: don’t forget about how good this guy is, despite how much he may look like an ostrich.

While Bosh’s presence is certainly the foundation of the franchise at the moment, the biggest story from the Miami Heat 2014-2015 campaign was the emergence of Hassan Whiteside – who went from an absolute nobody to ‘star’ in what felt like 24 hours.

He didn’t just pass the eye-test, the numbers he recorded after joining the Heat half way through the season are MVP-esque. Per 100 possessions, Hassan recorded an individual net rating of +20 (117 ORTG/97 DRTG). That means for every 100 possessions he’s on the floor, the Heat produce 20 more points than they concede. Think about that for a second.

Even more impressive: Whiteside’s rebounding prowess. When Hassan was on the floor, he single-handily recovered 34.7% of all rebounds when the Heat were on defense. Unlike a lot of NBA stars who put up big box score numbers, Whiteside’s directly impacted the result of games and translated to the win column.

Hassan led a team with Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, and Chris Bosh on it in individual “Wins Produced” by ~1.5x second place’s #.

Via HotHotHoops and ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh:

"Whiteside scored 0.85 points every time he touched the ball in the halfcourt (excludes defensive rebounds), which was far and away the best rate in the league. Jonas Valanciunas finished second at 0.71 points. "

Per the same article: Whiteside shot 54.2% on hook shots, 41.3% from midrange (46 shots so it’s not some low number of attempts), led the entire Eastern Conference in Player Efficiency Rating at 26.26, and had a block percentage of 9.2% which would rank 7th all-time for a single season if he qualified.

I realize he had a grand total of four … FOUR assists ALL season, but, how are you not convinced of this guy’s greatness? If you’re not convinced, I’ll leave you with this… Whiteside’s absolutely absurd 14 PTS/13 REB/13 BLK performance vs. the Chicago Bulls in January.

The Bad: McBob. If you remember the second ‘Summer of LeBron’: Pat Riley panic-signed Josh “I just overachieved like a MF’er in the final year of my contract last season in Charlotte, I’m not good at basketball, but, I may be able to convince someone that I am”  McRoberts to a ludicrous 4 Year/$22.65 Million contract that swallowed up the franchise’s entire mid-level exception, in hopes of convincing LeBron to stay. It didn’t work. I mean FFS we’re talking about Josh McRoberts here — what exactly did you think was gonna happen, Riles?

Anyways, Riley’s desperation signing hurt his knee in December and missed the rest of the season. Even when he did play, he was atrocious: leading the team in turnover % when on floor (number of turnovers per 100 possessions) at 27.3 and a team-low P(layer) E(fficiency) R(ating) at 10.2. It’s ok that he stinks, every team has someone who shouldn’t be getting important minute for a professional basketball franchise .. however, when said player is making $22.65 million and is the sole reason why you cannot go out and sign veteran players to market value because the mid-level exception is no longer an option: it is a problem. Thankfully: it appears the Heat were able to build a contender despite this financial liability, but, it sure makes you think how good Miami could be if this transaction never happened and Riley had this financial flexibility to use on a different player.

The Ugly: The injuries. This roster has all the makings of an Eastern Conference contender, however, they can’t (and will likely never) stay healthy. Of the team’s “star” players, no-one came close to playing the full 2014-2015 season. Deng led the team with 72 appearances, but, after that: a steep fall.

  • Wade: 62
  • Bosh: 44
  • Whiteside: 48

Even in the 62 games Wade appeared in, he averaged only 31.8 minutes per game. Whether it’s him battling father time and his chronic back/knee/leg injuries, Chris Bosh’s heart surgery, Whiteside’s hand problems, Amare’s notorious knee, or Deng’s back/him always having a dangerous weird virus that no-one has ever heard of … precedence suggests that this Heat team cannot avoid the injury bug. Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game too – you can’t just click ‘pause’ like this is NBA2k, scroll down to ‘injuries’ and select ‘off’. And while I’m not going to sit here and argue against this team’s potential, I’m not going to sign off on any radical predictions until I see what the roster looks like in April.

  • Based God Wob

Because I mean, on paper, this has to be a top team in the NBA – yes? Look at those names in the starting 5, anything short of the Eastern Conference Finals is certainly a “bad season” for players of that quality. In addition to assembling a “Big 5”, the Heat had another sneaky offseason where they just stacked the deck without anyone noticing. They stole Justise Winslow with the 10th pick in the first round of the draft, after several experts and scouts had him going as high as third … they rolled the dice on trading for Goran Dragic, whose contract was set to expire at the end of the 2014-2015 campaign, and were able to retain his services through 2019-2020 … and then in the middle of the night they signed Amare Stoudemire and Gerald Green to deals for a measly ~$1.4 and ~$1.3 million respectively.

Listen, you’re preaching to the choir: I know Amare and Gerald aren’t going to make this team the odds-on-favorite to win the NBA championship, however, by my calculation: they will be the 5th/6th men off the bench behind Chalmers, Birdman, Udonis, and Justise. If your roster is so deep with talent that Amare and Gerald can barely make the bench squad, you did something right. These two guys may stink at defense, but, they can still get buckets with the best of ‘em – and when the Heat starters go down with their inevitable injuries, these two veteran’s minimum contracts will end up being the steal of the summer.

When it’s all said and done: this team is the NBA equivalent of a Monopoly ‘Chance’ card – they’re either going to end up in the Eastern Conference Finals (Advance to Go) or finish in 10th place again (Straight to Jail) … no in between. I say this because Dragic and Bosh haven’t played a single minute together (the day Dragic was traded from the Suns to the Heat was the same day Bosh went into the hospital with his heart problem/missed the season) and we have literally zero statistics and footage to form a legitimate hypothesis off of – all we can do is speculate.

Personally, I think they’re going to be perfect for each other AND will play to Wade/Whiteside/Deng’s strengths. The Dragic/Bosh high-pick-and-roll putting pressure on opponent’s perimeter defense with Wade doing Wade things, Deng in the corner stretching the floor for his patented corner 3, and Whiteside lurking in the paint for a tip slam dunk of death is a salivating thought. Whether they can actually put it together on the floor, as a unit, together, and healthy … is a different story.

  • 2015-2016 Season Projection:
    • 50-32 Record
    • 3rd Place in East
    • Playoff Prediction: Eastern Conference Finals
  • Fan Mindset, as told by Hollywood:
    • Walter White, Breaking Bad

“If you don’t know how good this Heat team can be, maybe you should … tread lightly.”

  • Baseless God Wob’s 3 Divine Questions:
  • What is the Over/Under for the # of games that Dwyane Wade plays this season: 55?
  • Will Chris Bosh be Chris Bosh after major surgery?
  • Should Tyler Johnson take over the backup point guard role over Mario Chalmers?

OTHER NBA SEASON PREVIEWS/PRESEASON RANKINGS:

facebooktwitter