Miami Heat 2015-16 Season Preview
2014-15 Record: 37-45, No. 3 Southeast Division, No. 10 Eastern Conference
Roster Additions: F Justise Winslow (No. 10 Selection in Draft), G Josh Richardson (No. 40 Selection in Draft), C Amar'e Stoudemire, G John Lucas III, F Gerald Green
Roster Subtractions: F Michael Beasley, G Zoran Dragic, G Shabazz Napier
SBN Affiliate: Hot Hot Hoops
2014-2015 Recap: Any talk of last season for the Miami Heat starts in December. On December 15th, the Heat were 11-13 and struggling in the Eastern Conference. On that date, they recalled center Hassan Whiteside from the D-League. Whiteside, a player who had averaged 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds in his career to that point, suddenly morphed into Dikembe Mutombo in his prime. He averaged 11.8 points and 10 rebounds per game for the rest of the season, including nine games with at least 16 rebounds and three games with over 20. His masterpiece came on January 25th versus Chicago when he picked up a triple-double the hard way, scoring 14 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking 13 shots. While his arrival was a boost, at almost the same time the Heat lost forward Chris Bosh for the rest of the season with blood clots in his lungs. Despite the late trade that brought in Goran Dragic from Phoenix, the Heat were simply too far back to make it to the postseason, winning just five of their final fourteen games.
2015-2016 Offseason: There was not a lot of roster turnover for Miami in the offseason. Goran's brother Zoran was traded away for future assets, as was Shabazz Napier, a player drafted in an attempt to retain LeBron James last season. Meanwhile, the draft went as good as could be expected as the Heat reeled in a top five talent in Duke forward Justise Winslow at number ten. Gerald Green was signed to add depth at small forward, leaving the Heat with few holes at any position. Amar'e Stoudemire came in to give depth at center in case Whiteside's carriage turns back into a pumpkin.
Projected Starting Lineup: Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh, Whiteside
2015-2016 Outlook: This is a top-tier team in the NBA if everyone stays healthy. Dragic is a good scoring option, even if he is Damian Lillard lite with better defense and worse passing. Wade is up there in years, but can still contribute for 18-20 minutes a night and do well when he is out there. Deng was solid last season, and should continue to be a strong force at small forward in front of Green and Winslow. Bosh and Whiteside could be in the same class as Tim Duncan and David Robinson if both stay healthy. Whiteside was an unreal force of nature last year, affecting everything the opposition did on offense. Expecting him to continuously put up 20 point, 20 rebound games is asking far too much, but 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks a game is not out of the question. How Bosh returns from such a scary injury is a large question mark, but the Miami medical staff seems sure that Bosh will be able to handle a full workload once the regular season kicks off.
Final Prediction: The sheer talent level of the starting lineup gives Miami a strong chance to not only make the postseason, but get all the way back to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Southeast Division is going to be strong this year, but Miami has what they need to end the year on top of it. 52-30, 1st place in Southeast Division
Yesterday's preview: Denver Nuggets
Up next: Detroit Pistons