It has been more than half a decade since the end of the Miami Heat’s glory days. The time they won 3 Championships in 7 years between 2006 and 2013. Today, 7 years on, in 2020, all that remains of this success is Coach Spo and 39-year old PF Udonis Haslem.
Unlike the state of the NBA 10 years ago, today it is perhaps more balanced than ever before. While the hype this year revolves around teams such as the Lakers and Clippers, multiple teams such as the Nets, Rockets, Bucks, and, of course, the Warriors remain contenders. Each is home to some of the current NBA’s best, and no doubt future HOFers.
Therefore, it might not be too surprising that the Miami Heat go unmentioned when debating the top teams in the NBA, despite sitting at the 4th seed in the East prior to the league’s postponement. Still, the potential of their team deserves to be noticed, and many things are looking up for Miami.
Miami may not have the likes of Kawhi, LeBron, or KD; but in Jimmy Butler, one of the most underrated players in the league, they have playoff experience and (despite speculation) a true leader. His young teammates have spoken highly of his leadership and have made it clear that Butler is a dream to play with.
This raises the next major point: Youth. A team that is building requires young players that show great potential, and the Heat have found just that in some of their most valuable players. Rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, and 3rd year Bam Adebayo have taken the league by storm. With Bam being one of the most improved players and an all-star, and the two first-year players being within the top 10 candidates for ROTY, and being named to the 2020 Rising Stars Game.
One of the Heat’s best and most important qualities is how well-rounded they are. They have a great balance of young players with a high ceiling, as well as experienced and fine-tuned veterans. Defensively, Jimmy Butler is poised to make the NBA’s all-defensive first team, having made the second team twice before in his career. In Bam, they have one of the league’s most versatile centers, as an athletic big man that is as good a finisher as he is a defender. Offensively, the Heat have weapons all over the court. Duncan Robinson is proving to be a sniper, establishing himself as the league’s best 3-point shooter of 2020, and joins Nunn, (the leading scorer among rookies) and Herro as top scorers in South Beach. The youngsters will only improve, as the Heat’s veterans such as Dragic, Haslem, and Iguodala will likely continue to be valuable as mentors to the next generation of hoopers.
But one of the biggest challenges that any team faces is retaining players, and this is vital for a young, building team. If one star player falls away, it can be difficult to find a replacement and may set the whole franchise back. In recent years, Butler has appeared to be one of the most volatile players in the league, having played for two teams in two years before arriving in South Florida. Therefore, building around Butler might seem like a risk, but the way he speaks of his new home suggests that may not be the case after all. Back in March, Butler and Robinson appeared on the JJ Redick podcast, and from this it was clear to see that Butler has found his place in Miami.
Butler spoke highly of almost every part of the Heat organization. When asked about the younger players on the team, Butler told Redick that he ‘loves the way (Herro) works’, and compared Bam Adebayo to himself in his competitiveness and that they push each other to fulfill their potentials. To top it off, Butler claimed that he loved Miami’s culture and that he had never before in his career been a part of something quite like it.
It is clear to see that the Miami Heat have a talented team, and it would be a surprise if, at some point in the next 2-3 seasons, they did not rise to become a top-three team in the league. This franchise has the talent, competitiveness, coaching, and chemistry to be able to run with the best of them very soon. The future is bright for the Heat.