In order for the Miami Heat to have a successful 2019-20 season, they need to prove that they are close to championship contention.
Last season, the Miami Heat missed the playoffs for the third time since 2014. Their identity after the “Big 3” dispersed has changed multiple times. They haven’t advanced past the first round in three seasons. However, their new and improved roster could break the cold streak. Miami seems primed to get back to the postseason.
Yet, for the 2019-20 season to be considered positive for the Heat, they need to achieve more than just a playoff appearance. For Miami to have a good season, they need to show their roster is close to competing for a championship.
Since the entire landscape of the league changed so much during June and July, the Heat don’t have a clear picture of how good of a team they are. It’s tough to rank Miami among the rest of the league when there are so many teams that have significantly different rosters from last season.
Miami, with the addition of Jimmy Butler, is one of those teams, making it unclear how good they are.
Still, above all the other tasks Miami has for this year, the team needs to show that it is close to being a championship contender. Miami doesn’t have the luxury of taking a couple of years to prove they’re legit. Butler, 30 years old, is the only Heat player that has proven they can play at an All-Star level.
Every other player on Miami (thus far in their career) has proven to be useful, but they rarely show the ability to impact the game at a high level.
Few teams are able to contend for a title with just one player that plays at or close to an All-Star level. Players like CJ McCollum, Lou Williams and Rudy Gobert don’t have an All-Star appearance to their names, but still impact the game at a high level. Aside from Butler, the Heat lack players like these.
One of Miami’s priorities this season should be finding those type of players. It could be done by either trading for an established star or developing their young players into a star. Miami’s young core of players, which consists of Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Derrick Jones Jr., and KZ Okpala, could be used in both methods.
Winslow and Adebayo have shown steady improvement over their short careers. Either of them jumping to All-Star level play isn’t crazy thinking.
Winslow showed some point guard abilities on offense while still being a strong, switchable defender. Adebayo also flexed his versatility, as he took over the starting center position at the end of the year and improved his stats across the board.
Jones’ athleticism allows him to play and guard multiple positions. Herro and Okpala are just rookies, but have legitimate potential to be good scorers in the NBA. Miami’s recent track record players developed (Winslow, Adebayo, Jones and Josh Richardson) is an indicator they know how to get the most out of players.
With Herro and Okpala now in the mix, it gives Miami the chance to sprout more productive players. It simultaneously gives Miami the chance to increase their trade value, as they’ll be the key pieces in a trade that improves the roster.
The biggest indicator of Miami’s success will be their record. The Heat simply need to win more games than last year for the direction of winning right now to be justified. They should be around the 50-win mark in order to show they are close to competing for a championship. Improving by just a couple of games won’t cut it.
The Heat won 39 games last year and 44 games the year before; they should be well above those totals. Trading for a 30-year-old star to improve by single-digit wins isn’t making much progress towards a championship. Unless key players suffer serious injuries, the Heat need to be in the ball park of 50 wins to prove that they’re one or two big moves away from competitng for a title.
The window to win during Butler’s current contract is just four years long. Creating a roster around Jimmy Buckets seems to be the plan for Miami, so with the centerpiece in place, the job at hand is now to show that they’re close to playing at a championship level.
Whether it be with players currently on the roster or trade targets, Miami needs to figure out how to capitalize on whatever Butler has left in the tank.