The Miami Heat have flown under the radar since coming into the league in 1989. Since their emergence, the team has made the NBA Finals six times and won three championships. The players making up these talented teams are good enough to start a dynasty on their own. With that said, when you think of great players, sometimes these players get overlooked.
These players won multiple championships, and All-Star appearances, while some accomplished a lot in a small span of time. The bigger question is who fills the list outside of the big three that helped Miami elevate to its highest level of success from 2010 to 2014?
These are the 10 greatest Miami Heat players of all time.
Years in Miami: 6 (2000-2005, 2007)
Miami: 16.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Career: 14.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Jones never made an All-Star appearance with the Heat, but he was a solid player during a time when the Heat weren’t necessarily title contenders. He was durable and a spotty shooter that helped the team win games at times. He finished eighth in minutes played and 10th in made field goals.
His three-point shooting stood out. When Jones left the Heat, he was second all-time in three-point field goals. He now ranks third since Duncan Robinson passed him. Give Robinson one more year and he will be a part of this list, either bumping Jones or making the top-10. Robinson is 46 threes away from holding that honor.
Years in Miami: 5 (2014-2019)
Miami: 14.1 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.2 BPG
Career: 12.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.2 BPG
Honors: All-Defensive Second Team (2016), Rebounding Leader (2017), Blocks Leader (2016)
When Whiteside played with the Heat, he elevated his career as a top-5 center in the league. He was a solid rim protector, and tough rebounder, and led the league in rebounds and blocks in two different seasons. Whiteside finished his career with the Heat fifth in rebounds and owns the highest rebounding average in team history 11.9.
The more surprising stat might be that Whiteside finished fifth in triple-doubles all-time with four. That came with points, rebounds, and blocks. Whiteside finished top-5 in defensive win shares and top-10 in win shares in team history. Altogether, he was a top defensive specialist the team had during his tenure.
Years in Miami: 7 (2014-2021)
Miami: 16.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Career: 13.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Awards: All-Star (2018)
Dragic was very reliable when it came to staying on the court. He finished his career with the 10th most games played in a Heat uniform. He finished eighth all-time in made field goals and sixth in three-point field goals. Dragic is also eight in all-time points, scoring eight more points to pass Tim Hardaway on the all-time list.
The 16.2 points per game rank just inside the top-10 for career Heat points per game. Dragic finished his tenure with the Heat as a fan favorite. He was tough and versatile, helping the 2020 team make a run to the NBA Finals. It was his veteran leadership that was instrumental to the younger players that played in the Finals for the first time.
10. Bam Adebayo
Years in Miami: 5 (2017-Present)
Miami: 13.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Career: 13.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Awards: All-Star (2021), 2x All-Defensive Second Team (2020, 2021)
In five seasons, Adebayo is already creating a legacy with the Heat. He made the NBA Finals in 2020 as one of the league’s top two-way players. He is a true hustle player that has made the All-Defensive team two times and is an All-Star caliber player.
Adebayo now ranks seventh all-time in team history in rebounds. He just crept into the top-10 for two-point field goals. He is also tied for third in triple-doubles and has plenty of prime years to eventually overtake that record. To further prove his place in the top-10, he ranks in the top-10 for offensive win shares and total win shares.
9. Udonis Haslem
Years in Miami: 19 (2004-Present)
Miami: 7.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career: 7.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Awards: 3x NBA Champion (2006, 2012, 2013), All-Rookie Second Team (2004)
How can you go against a man that has given the Heat nearly two decades' worth of his time? While Haslem is not considered an All-Star talent, he is the team leader in rebounds. He also was a starter for the 2006 championship team and then a key contributor for the 2012 and 2013 title teams.
Haslem has continued to give the Heat credible wisdom as a player/coach. He has the resume to back it up. He has played the second-most games, played the second-most minutes, and has scored the seventh-most points. He has played with Wade, Shaq, LeBron, and now Jimmy Butler. Haslem knows what it takes to win and he has helped the Heat do that for nearly 20 years.
8. Glen Rice
Years in Miami: 6 (1989-1995)
Miami: 19.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Career: 18.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Awards: All-Rookie Second Team (2014)
If it was not for one pure superstar, Rice would own the record for most field goals in team history. Rice scored the third-most points in team history and that was before his prime championship-contending years with the Lakers. Rice was also durable, playing in the top-10 for games played and minutes.
While Rice doesn’t have any particular records that stand out, he was one of the first true stars in Miami. When he left the team, he led the team in points and Alonzo Mourning barely beat him by 200 points. Starting a franchise is difficult, but Rice made the team watchable during his time.
7. Chris Bosh
Years in Miami: 7 (2010-2017)
Miami: 18.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.0 BPG
Career: 19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 APG, 1.0 BPG
Awards: 2x NBA Champion (2012, 2013), 6x All-Star (2011-2016)
Bosh was the third member of the big three that helped the Heat make the NBA Finals each season from 2011 to 2014. If you remember correctly, he had a huge role in helping the Heat win the 2013 championship. Down 3-2 in the series, with time expiring, the Heat needed a three to tie the game. It was Bosh that grabbed an offensive rebound and made the pass to a wide-open Ray Alen, who tied the game. The win in overtime forced a Game 7 where the Heat won the Finals.
Bosh was forced to retire early from the league due to blood clots. Had he played out his contract, he would have ranked even higher in the all-time stats. Bosh ranks top-5 in points and probably would have passed LeBron and joined the 9,000 career point club had he not retired early. Without Bosh, the Heat probably doesn’t have two championships.
6. Tim Hardaway
Years in Miami: 6 (1995-2001)
Miami: 17.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Career: 17.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 8.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Awards: 2x All-Star (1997, 1998), All-NBA First Team (1997), 2x All-NBA Second Team (1998, 1999)
For the time being, Hardaway is the best three-point shooter in team history. Duncan Robinson is going to take that record next season, but in a time where threes were not the play of the game, Hardaway excelled at it. He was a three-time All-NBA player and a two-time All-Star as well in a period when Michael Jordan was one of the best scorers in the league.
Hardaway does have one record that he probably won’t lose soon. He owns the record for assist percentage, assisting over 40% of the team’s offense when he played. Hardaway was playing a game similar to Steph Curry in the late 90s and nobody knew about it. Curry took it to the next level, but Hardaway deserves his flowers as one of the best Heat players ever.
5. Jimmy Butler
Years in Miami: 3 (2020-Present)
Miami: 20.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Career: 17.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Awards: 2x All-Star (2020, 2022), 2x All-NBA Third Team (2020, 2021), All-Defensive Second Team (2021) Steals Leader (2021)
Butler is finishing up his third season with the Heat and already owns the most triple-doubles in team history with 11. He also took a team to the NBA Finals in his first season, so there is that too. The Heat took a chance on Butler and it paid off. With Butler as the face of the franchise, this team is a gritty defensive force to reckon with that is currently making another run to the NBA Finals.
The Heat claimed the No. 1 seed this past season with Butler leading the way. He already owns the record for all-time steals per game at 1.8, while his 20.9 points per game with the Heat ranks third behind two superstars. If Butler can win a championship in Miami, he would accelerate himself to a top-3 Heat great of all time.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
Years in Miami: 4 (2004-2008)
Miami: 19.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.9 BPG
Career: 23.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.3 BPG
Awards: NBA Champion (2006), 3x All-Star (2005-2007), 2x All-NBA First Team (2005, 2006)
In four seasons, O’Neal helped the Heat elevate to the top. The team had a young star but they needed someone with a championship pedigree. After splitting up with the Lakers, O’Neal helped the Heat win a championship in his second season as the second-best player on the floor. Still, the Heat did not get past the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals without O’Neal in the middle.
O’Neal was an All-Star and All-NBA talent while playing. Had he played longer with the Heat, he might rank higher in all-time stats, but that is a small fixture in the team’s eyes. He had his jersey retired because he helped the team win their first championship ever. O’Neal does own one record with the Heat as his 59.6% all-time field goal percentage is the best.
3. Alonzo Mourning
Years in Miami: 11 (1995-2002, 2004-2008)
Miami: 16.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.7 BPG
Career: 17.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.5 SPG, 2.6 BPG
Awards: NBA Champion (2006), 5x All-Star (1996, 1997, 2000-2002), All-NBA First Team (1999), All-NBA Second Team (2000), 2x Defensive Player of the Year (1999, 2000), 2x All-Defensive First Team (1999, 2000), 2x Blocks Leader (1999, 2000)
Mourning gets the nod past Shaq for racking up just a few more awards. Mourning was a key part of the 2006 championship team with Shaq too. Before O’Neal joined the Heat, it was Mourning’s team. In a way, he was still a major voice in the locker room during that time because he was a well-respected defensive talent that won two Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
Mourning ranks top-3 in games, minutes, field goals, two-point field goals, free throws, rebounds, and points. He owns the team record for the most blocks, while his 2.7 Heat blocks average is the record. He also ranks third in offensive, defensive, and total win shares. Had the Heat now made four straight Finals appearances from 2010 to 2014, Mourning would have had a solid argument for the best Heat player in team history.
2. LeBron James
Years in Miami: 4 (2010-2014)
Miami: 26.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Career: 27.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Awards: 2x NBA Champion (2012, 2013), 2x Finals MVP (2012, 2013), NBA MVP (2012, 2013) 4x All-Star (2010-2014), 4x All-NBA First Team (2010-2014), 3x All-Defensive First Team (2011-2013), All-Defensive Second Team (2014)
What James did in four seasons with the Heat is legendary. When he left the Cavaliers to join the Heat, he turned into the ultimate villain. He was hated by most. Obviously, not in Miami, where he helped the Heat win two titles and make four appearances in the Finals. He was an All-Star each season and an All-NBA First Team selection as well. On top of that, he was a top defensive player in the league. That is why he was the MVP in back to back seasons in 2012 and 2013.
Without looking at the all-time stats, you can’t argue that James is not the second-best Miami player ever. If James doesn’t join the Heat, Miami is a second-round playoff team at best. James remains the highest efficient player in team history, while his 38.0 minutes and 26.9 points per game are records. All in all, the Heat and James needed each other and it was a partnership that benefited both parties substantially.
1. Dwyane Wade
Years in Miami: 15 (2003-2016, 2017-2019)
Miami: 22.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Career: 22.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Awards: 3x NBA Champion (2006, 2012, 2013), Finals MVP (2006), 13x All-Star (2005-2016, 2019), All-Star Game MVP (2010), 2x All-NBA First Team (2009, 2010), 3x All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2006, 2011), 3x All-NBA Third Team (2007, 2012, 2013), 3x All-NBA Defensive Second Team (2005, 2009, 2010), NBA Scoring Champion (2009), All-Rookie First Team (2004)
While what James did in his four seasons is impressive, the greatest Heat player in team history is D-Wade. In 15 seasons, which included two stints, Wade won three titles and played in five NBA Finals. In his 15 seasons, Wade made the All-Star team 15 times. He made the All-NBA squad eight times while winning a scoring title in 2009.
When James and Bosh joined the Heat, it meant that the Heat could add to their championship trophy case. With that said, Wade proved he didn’t need them to win. He was the 2006 Finals MVP in his third season. Wade owns just about every team record as well. It’s going to be a long time before we see another player like Wade go through Miami.