By DARRELL DUNHAM (@tresd97)
Photo credit goes to nba.com.
Now that Dwyane Wade has moved on to the Windy City, the Miami Heat have to take a full look toward the future. Taking a look at its roster, there is no way the Heat will contend for a title any time soon. Chris Bosh is arguably the best player there, but his career is in jeopardy thanks to blood clots in his calf.
And even if he returns, there is no certainty the Heat will get the 11x All-Star version of CB1, with Bosh turning 33 before the 2016-17 campaign is over.
With the prospect of a Russell Westbrook deal out of the question, the Heat are now in complete rebuild mode. With that being said, Miami isn’t up a creek without a paddle. They have some guys on the roster that have intrigue around them going into next season, and it will be interesting to see how they progress in the next two or three seasons.
Josh Richardson, SG
Photo credit goes to The Sun-Sentinel.com.
Before the All-Star break, many didn’t know who the second round pick was, nor did they know that he would stake his claim as a steal in the 2015 NBA Draft last season. After the midway point of the season, Richardson averaged 10.2 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 53 percent from deep.
Richardson also showed that he has talent on the defensive end, averaging a steal and nearly a block a game after the break. Without Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng out of the picture, Richardson has a big opportunity to shine at either the two or three spot, according to how the next guy mentioned is positioned.
Justise Winslow, SF
Photo credit goes to Sports Illustrated.
Winslow is another guy from the 2015 draft who was considered a steal due to his defensive impact for the Heat, averaging over a steal a game after the All-Star break. The thing Heat fans are watching for from Winslow, though, is his progression on the offensive end.
He averaged just over six points a game on just 42 percent shooting last season. Winslow was a tad bit better from the field during the playoffs, but it was nothing that would leave many confident in his ability to put the ball in the basket.
With his role almost certainly being increased, it will be interesting to see how his game has evolved as a scorer next season. At the moment, it seems as if he’s leaning more toward being a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist type player (without the terrible jump shot form of course).
Tyler Johnson, PG
Photo credit goes to CBS Sports.
In the time that we saw Tyler Johnson on the court, we saw a player who progressed at the offensive end. The thing is, we didn’t see much of him due to injuries. Not to mention, he is a question mark on defense.
While his injury history isn’t extensive, and his defense can be improved upon, these are huge question marks with Johnson signing the dotted line on a four-year, $50 million contract. Heat fans will surely be watching to see if the 24-year-old guard can step up and be useful for more than 36 games.
Hassan Whiteside, C
Photo credit goes to hothothoops.com.
And now we get to the guy who has seemingly became the genesis of the Heat’s rebuild. After he signed a four-year, $98 million deal, it seemed as if the Heat were more concerned with everything other than resigning Dwyane Wade. Group that with the failed attempt at signing KD, and now the pressure is on Whiteside to prove his worth.
Whiteside led the league in blocks last season, averaging 3.6 per game, which was over a whole block more than second, DeAndre Jordan. Yes, he is a great rim protector, but he still has a lot of holes in his game defensively.
This was put on display for the whole world to see when he was matched up with Jonas Valanciunas and Al Jefferson. Whiteside struggled to defend these guys in the post, which is a huge problem for a big man, regardless of the change of play style in the NBA.
His on-ball defense is also a question mark. Offensively, I believe his numbers will go up along with the number of touches that he gets, but I don’t think the Heat necessarily need him to put up over 15 points per game. They need him to be an all-around elite defender, and with this huge payday he just received, the spotlight is now on him to become that.
The Heat have some guys on the team who can be very good in the NBA in the years to come. But I’m not saying that any of these guys will be superstars. Realistically, Whiteside is the only one who has the true potential to become one. At 27, you have to question how much space for development he has.
But, the Heat has the opportunity to build this team from the ground up and reinvent this team. With the players currently on the roster, it's a possibility the Heat can build a team that could be very attractive to a big name free agent in the near future.
Whiteside, Richardson, Winslow and Johnson have the ability to grow into some great complementary pieces to a superstar, and it will be fun to see how they grow in the years to come.