June 22, 2016, 7:12 pm
The Miami Heat had a busy year to say the least and were ultimately eliminated in game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals after a third-place finish in the regular season. In their second season in the post-LeBron era in South Beach, the Heat proved that they can still hang with the best teams in the NBA.
The Heat still seem to be finding their identity as a winning basketball team in the post LeBron era and were able to put together a successful campaign with a lot of positives. Their rookie draft picks Justice Winslow and Josh Richardson impressed both in the regular season and the playoffs, their stud center emerged at an all-star level and they added veteran leadership in Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson. Just like every other team though, there were trials and tribulations for the team from South Beach. Scary health issues to all-star Chris Bosh and questions of Hassan Whiteside’s attitude threw a wet blanket over the Heat’s season.
Erik Spoelstra just wrapped up his eighth season as the coach of the Miami Heat. An eight season head coaching tenure is the equivalent of several lifetimes it seems like in the NBA of today. His ability to maintain a winning business-as-usual attitude after the loss of LeBron James has won over Heat fans as well as the admiration of Heat president Pat Riley. His accolades which include two championship rings are quite impressive when you think about the fact that every other coach who has coached King James has ended up fired. It makes sense that a few rings will tend to loosen the leash. He’ll enter next year likely still as the head coach of the Miami Heat as his contract isn’t publicly disclosed and he’ll have some work to do follow up a year where the Heat finished in third place in the regular season and reached the Eastern Conference Semi-finals all without their All-Star power forward Chris Bosh.
THE BIG NAMES
ADP: 33, Total Value: 14/9 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 15/9 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 73
The Miami Heat may be in Wade County but if we’re talking fantasy hoops, this is Hassan Whiteside’s team. The big man in the middle overcame off-season criticism of his “fluke” season in 2014/15 to finish with first round value in almost all formats. It was a strange year for Whiteside as trade rumors were rampant all year along with talks of him not fitting in with the team’s identity and most likely walking in free agency. With averages of 14 PTS, 11.7 REB and a ridiculous 3.7 BLK per game; if he does walk, it’ll be under his own terms. The third place finisher in Defensive Player of the Year voting will likely command a max-contract wherever he goes next year but Heat president Pat Riley has stated that retaining their star big man this offseason was the team’s number one priority. It’s unclear what Whiteside’s future holds but one thing is for sure: he’s about to break the bank with just about every team out there interested in the services of a fierce rim-protector.
The 7-footer actually started about half of his games this season off the bench and was still able to put up gaudy big man numbers. His 14 PPG is an increase from 11.8 PPB a year prior and he is showing a soft touch and improved abilities to finish at the basket in pick-and-roll situations with Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic. He even developed a few post-moves including pump fakes, spin moves and a fadeaway jumper.
After being passed up this year for over two rounds in fantasy drafts, Whiteside will demand a first round pick in your leagues regardless of what jersey he’s wearing. Your only risk will likely be ejections as he can be a little hot-headed and immature at times with his tendency to flagrant players out of frustration.
ADP: 66, Total Value: 61/85 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 66/97 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 74
Let’s face it, D-Wade is getting up there in age and it’s tough to trust an aging guard without 3-point range who relies on his athleticism and heart to win games. The reason Wade dropped to the sixth-round in fantasy drafts was his tendency to take rest days and his injury prone label. He did manage to play in 74 games which is the most games he’s played in a single season in the last five years. However, Wade is an example of a superstar that needs more than just games played to be effective in the box score. His inability to shoot the 3-ball combined with his lack of efficiency has him finishing the season below his ADP in nine-category formats. Owners who drafted Wade may have thought that they got away with murder in the mid-to-late rounds but got a valuable lesson instead on name brands.
Wade is still a very effective leader and player in the NBA making his 12th NBA All-Star appearance earlier this year. He finishes the year with averages of 19 PTS, 4.1 REB, 4.6 AST, 1.1 STL and 0.6 BLK per game which might have had him missing his first All-Star game in many years had he not been voted in by the fans. He did however look great during the Miami Heat’s playoff run that had them falling in seven games to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. He displayed heart and hustle while proving to the league that this old-timer can still ball. It’ll be difficult to gauge his production level for next year as he is definitely not the player he once was. The DNP-CD risks will still be there as he suits up for another year of wear-and-tear. Wade will quietly enter unrestricted free-agency this year and he will be free to sign with any team of his choosing but he has stated that he wants to retire in Miami and for now it looks like he is expected to return barring any last minute surprises. If he does indeed return to Miami, he’ll be a great late-round value pick but make sure you don’t reach for him.
ADP: 37, Total Value: 104/86 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 45/33 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 53
Chris Bosh was one of the sadder stories of the year with his season ending prematurely again due to blood clots. In February, news broke of a lower leg injury which forced Bosh to the sidelines for what most owners thought was a few games. Up to this point, Bosh had played in 53 games and it looked like he was primed to finish the season strong with averages of 19.1 PTS, 7.4 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.5 3PM, 0.7 STL, 0.6 BLK per game while shooting 47% from the field and almost 80% from the line. He did everything owners wanted him to do as he took steps back to the level of fantasy excellence that he enjoyed during his days as a Toronto Raptor. Since those days he’s regressed in terms of rebounding and scoring but his adaptability has him improving his efficiency in his role as a secondary offensive option and even developing a 3-point shot.
Doctors grew concerned halfway into the season that his blood clotting condition was going to spread from his legs to his lungs and erred on the side of caution by shutting him down for the season. The injury which threatened his season is now rumored to be threatening his career which would be an absolute tragedy to one of the great players and human beings of this league.
Our best wishes are with Chris Bosh and his family through this medical condition that could change his life forever. Some things are bigger than basketball and this condition could threaten his life let alone his career.
If he does return to the floor, he’ll be returning to the Heat after signing a long-term max extension with Miami last season. A full recovery would mean great things for his fantasy value but obviously fantasy owners will want to stay tuned to updates on Bosh’s health before drafting or making any drastic moves in dynasty leagues.
ADP: 56, Total Value: 69/104 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 76/101 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 72
The Dragon entered and completed his first full-season with the Miami Heat and his eighth season as a pro. He contributed to the success of the Heat’s playoff run this year and performed much better in the playoffs than he did in the regular season. In the regular season, he continued his statistical decline since leaving the Phoenix Suns and finished the year with averages of 14.1 PTS, 5.8 AST, 3.8 REB, 1.0 STL and 0.9 3PM while shooting 47.7% from the field and 72.7% from the line. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that Dragic is still adjusting to life on a new team where he is the third offensive option at best with players who can create their own shots.
Dragic is locked up with the Heat long term so he’ll eventually have to learn to produce at the high level that he once played at with the Phoenix Suns if he wants to earn his hefty paycheck. He missed his ADP by at least a round in eight-category formats and by several rounds in nine-category leagues which isn’t great for his fantasy owners. It’s possible that he turns it around next season so he could be a decent value pick in the ninth or tenth round in fantasy leagues. You could do much worse than a starting point guard that deep in drafts.
ADP: 104, Total Value: 85/115 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 118/154 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 81
The Brooklyn Nets finally took the final step in dismantling their team of washed up veterans by waiving former All-Star Joe Johnson. It was expected that he was going to sign with a playoff contender once he cleared waivers and he ultimately decided to take his talents to South Beach to finish the year. He played his final 24 games of the regular season with the Heat and finished with averages of 13.4 PTS, 2. 8 REB, 3.6 AST, 1.5 3PM and 0.9 STL in 32 MPG. He was a solid addition to the rotation especially with Tyler Johnson missing most of season.
Johnson definitely isn’t playing at the All-Star level he once was which seems to be a common theme for almost all of the older Miami Heat players and he’ll enter free agency in a year that saw him go unclaimed on waivers. Iso Joe still has gas left in the tank but it’ll be interesting to see which team has a need for a player with that style of play. His fantasy value depends entirely on what jersey he’s wearing next season. It’s likely that he’ll find himself in a sixth-man role which could severely limit his upside. Owners can take a wait-and-see approach here.
ADP: 112, Total Value: 84/65 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 98/76 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 74
The twelfth year Sudanese veteran is still earning a seven-digit salary in the NBA and that is an impressive feat. Not only that, he was actually one of the few members of the Miami Heat who outperformed his ADP. He finished his second season with the Miami Heat with averages of 12.3 PTS, 6.0 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.2 3PM and 1.0 STL in 32.4 MPG.
After spending his first 10 years in the league with the Chicago Bulls, Deng has now played for three teams in the past three years and he could be on the move again soon as he’s entering unrestricted free agency in 2016. He will likely command a smaller salary on a veteran needy team but with the new CBA he could very well end up signing a hefty short-term contract to prove if he can still ball. The Heat aren’t likely to overpay for his services and have budding stars in Josh Richardson and Justice Winslow on the wing. A bench role on a contending team won’t be great for Deng’s fantasy value next year and that’s the role that we envision him in.
GUYS TO WATCH
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 266/248 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 240/207 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 52
Josh Richardson played sparingly during the first half of the season but injuries to Tyler Johnson and the decline of Gerald Green opened up big minutes. His great play arguably surpassed the play of his rookie teammate Justice Winslow who was picked 10th overall in the same year. He achieved rookie of the month honors in the month of March over big name rookies like Kristaps Porzingis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Jahlil Okafor and Nikola Jokic, which was no easy feat. J-Rich has a lethal jump shot which was demonstrated in his 51.7% from the field and 55.8% from deep (on 3.1 attempts per game) after the All-Star break. He coasted to the 3-point shooting rookie title and the Heat have themselves their swingman of the future.
ADP: 137, Total Value: 186/184 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 219/227 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 78
Justice Winslow may have been outplayed on the box-score by his rookie counterpart Josh Richardson in the second half of the season but the former is definitely the defensively gifted one of the two. No rookie averaged more fourth-quarter minutes than Justice Winslow which speaks volumes of his abilities for a playoff contending team. Winslow showed rebounding prowess averaging 5.2 rebounds a game in 28.6 minutes and his ability to guard virtually every position in basketball had him drawing defensive assignments against the most lethal players the league has to offer. Imagine having to guard LeBron James in your rookie year in the fourth quarter. Not an easy task. With the philospohy that defense wins championship, we’ll likely see Winslow on the floor a lot in 2016/17 but don’t expect too much on the box score due to his lack of an offensive game(only 6.4 PPG in 2015/16). He should be able to make up for it with a steal a game and a handful of rebounds as a late round flier in deeper leagues.
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 283/281 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 177/177 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 36
Tyler Johnson made splashes the season before last with his great ability to knock down the deep ball. His season this year however was cut short due to shoulder surgery but he did return in the playoffs to help propel the Heat to the second round of the NBA playoffs. He has shown the ability to light it up at a moment’s notice with a career high 24 points in March with six 3-pointers. Johnson has a qualifying offer for next season at a bargain so it wouldn’t be surprised to see the Heat bring him back with most of the aging veterans on the team coming off of the books.
McBob had a disappointing year and he was once heralded as a strong piece of the Heat’s core upon his arrival from Charlotte. He’s able to play the forward and center positions and has great hands for a big man. McRoberts has rare passing ability for a F/C but was underutilized in his time with the Heat even with Chris Bosh missing significant time with his blood clot injury. He has a few years to turn it around as he still has two years left on his contract so his value will depend somewhat on Chris Bosh’s chances of playing next season.
The nine and a half finger dunking dynamo started the year off hot as the sixth man for the Heat but quickly fizzled out in favor of Josh Richardson and Justice Winslow. He was racking up DNP-CD’s by the end of the season and is coming off the books this year so he can be largely ignored on draft day. He’s an exciting player though so it would be great to see him in the NBA again next season but a stint overseas seems more likely.
STAT is no longer the man he once was and his body is borderline unusable in the NBA. He can’t be counted on even as a backup big man anymore in this league and he’ll likely end up in a mentorship role next season as he also is coming of the Heat’s books this off-season.
The Heat will likely have a brand new look next year with only five players still under contract at the end of the 2015/16 NBA season. These five players are Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Justice Winslow and Josh Richardson. If Chris Bosh is unable to return to the court, this only leaves four players and a lot of cap space. South Beach has never failed to be a strong selling point for prospective players so we can confidently expect to see a major signing or two in Miami this Summer whether it’ll be the retaining of Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade and/or the addition of another superstar. At this point of his career however, Dwyane Wade can no longer demand a max salary and the Heat would just be paying him out of loyalty if they decide to break the bank for him one more time. Overpaying for Wade’s services however would limit Miami’s cap flexibility and could hurt the team in the long term. It’s unclear if Wade would be willing to accept a hometown discount but he has made it known that he wants to retire in a Heat uniform. With big names like Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol, LeBron James, Andre Drummond, Mike Conley, Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Rajon Rondo and Chandler Parsons hitting free agency at the same time, the Heat will have many options and a lot of money.