On July 6, 2019, Jimmy Butler was traded to the Miami Heat. A little more than a year later, he brought them within two wins of an NBA championship. Butler’s arrival gave the Heat a swagger they were missing and changed the entire dynamic of the franchise.
Talk about Butler usually ends up circling back to the drama that followed him when he played with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls. Was he a bad teammate? Did he deserve the backlash? His time with the Heat has already proven that all he needed was a fresh start and a place where he feels at home.
The Heat had themselves a nice regular season; they finished fourth in the East, had a candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year, an All-Rookie First Teamer, and a coach that many thought could’ve won Coach of the Year. In fact, Eric Spolestra continues to get better each year. He might just be the best coach in the East that doesn’t get enough recognition. Every year he coaches his ass off, and now he was able to lead his team to the Finals and help Adebayo develop into a budding star.
The Heat brought the heat, (haha get it? Sorry.) to the Orlando bubble. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro broke out on the biggest stage. Herro showed he has a lot of confidence and happily takes any shot he wants. He wasn’t consistent but considering he’s a rookie, it should only be uphill from here. Robinson’s release is so quick you may actually miss it—ask just about any NBA defense. When he gets going, Robinson can score 20 points on you in an instant, and even get your assistant coach to hop onto Google during the game to find out who the hell he is.
Goran Dragic unfortunately suffered an injury in the Finals that kept him out for most of the series, and while he did play in the last game, it was obvious how much the injury was affecting him. But during the seeding games and playoffs, he led the team in scoring and emerged as one of the best players on the team.
The continued growth of Bam Adebayo was on full display, and he’s only getting better. He was a nominee for the Most Improved Player of the Year award and was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. And let’s not forget that amazing block against Jayson Tatum in the playoffs.
Recently, the Heat have emerged as a hotspot for potential free agents. Their impressive play in the Orlando bubble turned them into a sexy destination (or is it Pat Riley’s famous slicked-back hair that attracts everyone?). One name that has been floated as a candidate to join the Heat is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Pairing Giannis with Butler and the constantly improving Adebayo would give the Heat a lot of fire power and set them up for the foreseeable future.
Miami could also search the trade market for improvements. Shams Charania recently reported that the New Orleans Pelicans would be discussing trade talks around Jrue Holiday. Who could the Heat give up? There was some talk that the Heat would likely not include Tyler Herro in trades, so would they potentially trade Robinson? Although he’s actually quite perfect for this team, trading him could get them an all around better player.
One player that could leave is free agent Goran Dragic. Dragic averaged 16.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game during the regular season, and his playoff numbers were even better at 19.1 PPG, 4.4 APG and 4.1 RPG, so signing him should be a priority even though he’s getting older. But if they can get him, Holiday averaged 19.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 4.8 RPG this past season and would perfectly fill in Dragic’s role. So the Heat can go both ways and not lose anything.
(If you’ve noticed, yes I’ve tried to say Heat in various ways throughout this and I do not apologize.)
No matter what the Heat do from now until the start of the season, (which is literally next month), they’re in great shape and should be favored to make another run. They could add to the roster by bringing in a star, trading for some complementary pieces, sign or let go of free agents—and of course, they still have a coach that could slide his way up into Coach of the Year status.
Stats from Statmuse