The Miami Heat start their 2019-20 season with the most optimism in at least four years… and perhaps longer.
They have a real star, a streamlined roster and an intriguing group of young players.
What do some of the Five Reasons Sports Network contributors expect?
Zach Buckley (@ZBuckleyNBA): This Heat team has sneaky-good upside to climb as high as No. 3 in the East. Jimmy Butler might be my favorite surprise top-five MVP finisher, with a leap similar to (if a bit more subdued than) the one Paul George made last season. If Miami has a finalist for both Rookie of the Year (Tyler Herro) and Most Improved Player (Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow), it could sneak its way into 50-win territory. My crystal ball sees the Heat riding a top-five defense to a 48-34 finish and the conference’s No. 4 seed.
Alejandro Villegas (@AlejandroVG32): The Miami Heat season is finally here and we’re all excited. No more Hassan Whiteside whining (though now we have Dion Waiters filling up that role), and finally a superstar who needs to win now. Jimmy Butler is in his 30s already and there is no time to be wasting his time. So we’ll probably see his best version from the go, with a bunch of exciting young guys. I see the Miami Heat winning 50 games this season, with a solid defensive season and hopefully a set productive rotation (and Erik Spoelstra not trying to figure it out the entire season). Hopefully they make it to the East Conference semifinals at least.
Greg Sylvander (@LeftyLeif): The arrival of Jimmy Butler should do wonders for the scoring challenges this group faced in recent seasons. Just how big of a leap Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow take in starting roles will be the crucial element in how far this team can go this season. If Tyler Herro is as good as advertised, it further elevates the trajectory in a big way. Having flexible depth that should allow the team to survive the occasional injury bug, and a combination of expiring contracts and young players to remain in position to execute a trade for another frontline player, I see 50 wins.
Paul Austria (@PaulAustria_): The addition of Jimmy Butler is enormous, especially when you consider that the Heat “culture” is what drew him in versus staying with a better contender in Philadelphia. I’ve always felt like what Miami was lacking these past two years was a wing player that can create his own shot, aka a guy that can just “get buckets.” Now they have two in Butler and Herro. Winslow seems to be getting more and more confident playing point guard by the day and Adebayo as well. I think the addition of Meyers Leonard is slept on, but what ultimately will decide the success of the Heat this season will be how well they rebound, as they lost an elite rebounder in Hassan Whiteside. The cohesion the team showed in the preseason is absolutely noteworthy and a 52-30 record with a 4-5 seed in the playoffs is surely within reach for Spo and company.
Ethan Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick): Well, here we are, back to relevance. It seemed like everyone (but Dion Waiters and James Johnson) has been smiling since the summer. Erik Spoelstra has been freed from his major malcontent (Hassan Whiteside) and has interchangeable parts that he can deploy countless ways. The hype train may have gotten a little ahead of itself locally, but this is a good team with a chance to improve significantly after a rough early schedule stretch. Oh, and don’t rule out a trade prior to the deadline. I’ll conservatively say 47-35, which should be good for third or fourth in a shallow East.
Michael Sonbeek (@Dutchbeek): The Heat field a team that they haven’t had in a long time……a high upside young team. Adding Jimmy Butler to the mix should put an end to their recent mediocre streak — especially now that they have realized their mistakes from summers past and have begun to clean that up. I’ll say 48 wins and a second round loss, possibly better if Tyler Herro turns out to be legit.
David Friedman (@TacoBoutSports): As we move into a new era of Dwyane Wade-less Miami Heat basketball, the fresh faces of Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro have Heat fans feeling cocky once again. Butler oozes Heat culture and it feels as if it’s contagious in the locker room. Herro has gone from a “huh?” draft pick to someone that Heat fans view as untouchable. The Heat should continue to make moves during the season, maybe a little Philly cheese special, and will push for a top 4 seed. Let’s say 47-35 and a third spot.
Ricky J. Marc (@RickyJMarc): After finally acquiring that bridge star to move Miami into a new, post-Flash era, the Heat finally have direction again. Most players’ roles are going to be clear now, and Erik Spoelstra looks to be rejuvenated after a tough go at it these last few years. Jimmy Butler and the Heat look to be a attitudinal match made in Miami, and with the ever-improving Justise Winslow as the team’s future PG, Bam Adebayo as the team’s center of the future (now that Hassan Whiteside is finally gone), and Tyler Herro looking to be Miami’s starting SG of the future, this team looks good again. Expect a scrappy defensive squad that will look like a 55-win team on good nights and a 44-win team on bad ones. If there’s one thing to know, it’s that this team won’t give up at any point this season. They’ll make some noise this year, and could very well sneak into the Eastern Conference Finals if one of the East’s contenders aren’t careful. I think 48-34 sounds about right.