The Miami Heat lured in one of the biggest fish of free agency when they signed Jimmy Butler, and then made some more noise by finally trading away Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Obviously, getting a player like Butler guarantees the chance of competing for a spot in the playoffs, especially in the Eastern Conference. However, he’ll need a lot of help to get them there.
The Heat aren’t a legit contender in the East yet, but they have taken some steps in the right direction and are likely going to be very active in the trade market as the season goes by.
But how will they lineup in the meantime? Let’s break it down:
Bench: Justise Winslow, Tyler Herro, Derrick Jones Jr, KZ Okpala, James Johnson, Meyers Leonard, Udonis Haslem
Point Guard: Goran Dragic
It has been a while since Goran Dragic looked like an All-Star. But to be fair, the lack of a truly efficient supporting cast has forced him to avoid trying to play through his injuries and preserve his body instead.
Dragic is not the average pass-first kind of point guard, but the Heat will have multiple ball-handlers on the court with him, Waiters, and Butler — so that’ll allow him to play off-ball, where he does the most of his damage.
Shooting Guard: Dion Waiters
Dion Waiters was playing the best ball of his career before falling down with a season-ending injury, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to pick things up where he left them and ease his way back to his former self.
Waiters is a talented shooter and scorer, so if he embraces his role and doesn’t force things on the offensive end, he’ll be really solid for this team. Otherwise, he may be on the move as a trade candidate.
Small Forward: Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is an alpha dog, so the Heat are definitely going to be his team next season. He’ll embrace the leader role in the locker room and will get along with everybody as long as they give 110% on the floor night in and night out.
Butler is one of the best two-way players in the world and he gives the Heat a dynamic wing who can shoot off the dribble, play lockdown defense, and even create for others. Keeping him happy will be the hardest part, for sure.
Power Forward: Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynynk will give the Miami Heat a much-needed presence on the perimeter. He’ll be the team’s spot-up shooter and his presence will open up a lot of space for Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic to drive.
Olynyk is also a solid rebounder and shooter, but struggles on the defensive end of the floor, especially against more physical opposition. Still, if he can consistently knock down shots from beyond the arc, he’ll be really valuable.
Center: Bam Adebayo
Coach Erik Spoelstra was very high on Bam Adebayo even when Hassan Whiteside was on the team, and he has trusted him with crunch time minutes early in his career. Now, he is in for a breakout season.
Adebayo is an athletic freak and an outstanding rim-runner. He’s got hops, strength, and makes great reads on the defensive end when he needs to help. He’s a solid finisher below the rim and just needs to work on his face-up game.