The Miami Heat’s play-in to Finals run was the feel-good story of the postseason. Entering this offseason they seemed primed to make a big move to improve their chances of winning a championship. Here’s the Miami Heat 2023-24 season preview:
They lost a lot of pivotal members of this Finals team, Tyler Herro survived another offseason of trade rumors, but “Heat Culture” still seems stronger than ever. How will this carry into the 2023-24 NBA season for the Miami Heat?
Richardson spent the first four years of his career with Miami, with his best individual season coming in his last one with the Heat. As a full-time starter he averaged 16.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game. Now back after four seasons apart, Richardson is expected to fulfill the guard roles for the that were left with their offseason dismissals.
Bryant has been a consistent rotational big throughout his entire career. Whether it’s been stepping up as a starter in Washington or next to Anthony Davis in LA, or being the backup for the Finals MVP Nikola Jokic. Though Bryant hardly played in the Finals matchup, his veteran leadership and championship DNA should fit well into the Heat’s culture.
Miami used the 18th pick on the 6’7 wing from UCLA, Jaime Jaquez Jr. He’s coming into the league at 22 years old, as a known hardnose defender and unorthodox style of offense. He’s sure to play a key role using the same abilities that led him to be named the PAC-12 Player of the Year.
Damian Lillard (in theory)
It’s no secret that Miami wanted Damian Lillard and Damian Lillard wanted Miami. Unfortunately, the dream didn’t come to fruition as the seven-time all-star was shipped to Milwaukee. Lillard would’ve added another star player to alleviate the pressure from Jimmy Butler come playoff time. On paper, Miami now lacks that star power to compete with the superstars in the East.
One of the big playoff risers for Miami in their Finals run was Max Strus. He was especially effective in the second-round series against the Knicks averaging 14.7 points per game on 47.8%. But he ran out of gas towards the end of the playoffs and was involved in a sign-and-trade to Cleveland.
Gabe Vincent spent most of the season starting at point guard for Miami, and with him leaving to join the Lakers they’re in a sticky situation regarding their new starter. Vincent provided valuable two-way production that will surely be missed in their rotation.
Although he wasn’t providing much on the offensive end, Zeller’s size and defensive versatility saw him getting ample playing time in the postseason. He served as a perfect reliever for Bam Adebayo and was a good post-presence since Kevin Love operated as a stretch four. He signed with the Pelicans this offseason.
Perhaps the biggest loss for Miami was the grandfather of Heat Culture himself. Udonis Haslem retired at 43 years old after 20 years of playing for his hometown franchise. Haslem had been a pivotal veteran leader and almost played a player-coach role for the team.
Starting Lineup: Tyler Herro, Josh Richardson, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, Bam Adebayo
Continuity is key for Miami this season. I don’t expect an aging Kyle Lowry to shift back to the starting lineup. Plus, Herro has proven himself as a member of Miami’s core (at least until another star is available).
On paper, the Heat seamlessly replaced their lost depth pieces. But a blend of inexperience and shaky scheme fits makes me question if they’re deep enough.
The Miami Heat 2023-24 campaign should be more of the same as they’ve been recently. They will still be a threat in the Eastern Conference as they have been over the last few seasons. I do think they’re still a piece away from contending with the top of the East, and their lack of depth might have them falling behind teams like the 76ers, Cavs and Knicks. I’d expect anywhere between a 4-6 seed for the Heat with about 45 wins.
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