Welcome back to Guts Check. A weekly Miami Heat column aimed at bringing readers my perspective on all the hot topics surrounding the team. You can expect a regular balance of sourced information, analysis and an expression of the soul of the Heat fan base. In the name of Trusting the Spocess, let’s call these weekly columns position-less.
Since we last touched base:
- Heat beat the Hawks 112-97 & 106-97 in a home and home series.
- Dominated the Houston Rockets from start to finish in a 129-100 route on Sunday.
Let’s review a few of my key takeaways from the undefeated week of Heat basketball that was.
Jimmy Butler: The Human Embodiment of Heat Culture
“The group of guys we have is the group of guys I want to play with.”
That was one of many quotes from the recent interview with Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.
Jimmy Butler has Heat fans ready to run through brick walls for him at this point.
I would argue that no player in Heat history has arrived on the scene in Miami and become as endeared by (and connected to) the fan base as Jimmy. Not Alonzo, not Timmie, not even Dwyane or Lebron James. Shaquille O’Neal was endeared by all, but for far different reasons.
Jimmy resonates with this fan base because he brings to life the things even the most cynical of Heat Culture critics tend to scoff at. The doubters who scoffed, have largely been left to praise. Butler reinforces so much of what the organization has built its reputation on. He talks and walks the Miami Heat way. Pat Riley has found his next Alonzo Mourning.
Pat finally found his Zo https://t.co/GLFCWrPP0a
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) October 29, 2019
Whether it be winning that introductory press conference alongside Riles, to posting 3AM workout videos with Heat rookie sensation Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler has been incredibly vested to the success of the team since day one. Fans notice the way Butler goes out of his way to prop up the young players he is surrounded by. He chose this group, because they approach the game the same way he does.
“I know what these guys are capable of. These guys are built like me. We’re one in the same and so they’re only going to get better and they’re not going to get complacent. This is me. I see myself in every one of these guys around this locker room.” –@JimmyButler https://t.co/tGY0Ttd8Ry
— Greg Leif Sylvander (@GregSylvander) November 4, 2019
Speaking of Herro, Heat fans wanted as many reasons to embrace the Bucket Bros as they could find. Being co-signed by Butler was the icing on the cake that allowed fans to fall firmly in love.
5 Reasons Bucket Bros Tee – Five Reasons Sports Network https://t.co/p93yzQnOKP
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) November 4, 2019
This all goes back to one thing. Jimmy Butler has all the guts. He is exactly who this organization needed. His arrival was perfect timing for both player and team.
Heat fans were desperate for a star, literally any star, to come to Miami and remind them this organization mattered. Not only did they get a star, they got one who is reminding the NBA that the Heat matter, but especially in all the ways the Heat view as most important.
Erik Spoelstra appears rejuvenated, and we can understand why.
Coach Spo looks like a man who has had a 235 lb. weight lifted off his shoulders. He just has a different look in his eyes when he talks about this group. He likes this team and all its elements. (well, almost all of them)
Said this since the smile was back on media day.
Erik Spoelstra loves this group.
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) October 30, 2019
As we watched the team this week, we saw multiple players put in position for major contributions. Spoelstra finally has a roster that fits the way he wants to play, and it shows in the way Spoelstra has been able to mix and match lineups and tinker on the fly as he finds combinations he likes best.
Although they all feel like they involve Bam & Jimmy don’t they?
Bam Adebayo leads the break and throws the lob to Jimmy Butler for the jam. pic.twitter.com/xWFURhxElf
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) November 4, 2019
The Heat’s potent bench depth is surely going to be a needed boost on Western Conference road trips against high powered offenses, such as the one that starts in Denver tonight and ends in Los Angeles against Lebron’s Lakers on Friday.
Spoelstra having the ability to go full “mad scientist” on the rest of the league with 3 or 4 cyborgs on the court at all times is a distinct advantage he was not awarded in recent seasons.
Most of all though, Spo looks reinvigorated and rejuvenated. In my opinion, it has a lot to do with who has relocated.
People inside organization told me 5-7 https://t.co/ItzZde3y06
— Five Reasons Sports Network (@5ReasonsSports) November 1, 2019
- The Heat continue to quietly communicate that Dion Waiters is available via trade. The Detroit Pistons, who have a further depleted back court with the injury to Reggie Jackson, is a team that continues to be mentioned according to a source. The Charlotte Hornets are also a team to watch as a willing trade partner it if means securing an asset.
- Marvin Williams and Jae Crowder, both players the organization has shown interest in previously, are potential targets that could entice the Heat to eventually package an asset (such as Derrick Jones Jr.) with Dion Waiters to find the shooting guard a new home. Such a trade would likely need to involve a third team, and the Heat prefers not to surrender any asset in such a move at this time according to a source. The reemergence of James Johnson would also cool off any interest in Williams or Crowder for the time being.
- Although the Heat remain open minded to all trade scenarios, the team is by no means actively pursuing any major trades at this point, according to a league source. The team, as expected, is pleased with its 5-1 start and prefers to be patient. Check back in mid December, when more than half the league will become available via trade due to free agent restrictions that lift on 12/15, as that seems to be a more realistic reevaluation date for trade options.