Miami Heat 2018-19 Team Preview

  • How’d We Get Here?

    The Heat weren’t always the most talented team on the floor last season but they generally had a coaching advantage and just outworked the opposition. They used their variety of defensively versatile personnel to grind teams down and pick up wins thanks to Erik Spoelstra’s planning and execution. Miami was pretty stagnant this offseason and will bring back the same team that got bounced in round one by the upstart Sixers.

    Offseason Moves

    Rookie Arrivals: Duncan Robinson (UDFA), Yante Maten (UDFA), Malik Newman (UDFA)
    Departures: Derrick Walton Jr., Jordan Mickey
    Retained: Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Jones Jr., Udonis Haslem

    Depth Chart and Minutes Per Game

    PG: Goran Dragic (30-32) / Tyler Johnson (26-29)
    SG: Wayne Ellington (23-26) / Dwyane Wade (21-23) / Dion Waiters (0, 21-27)
    SF: Josh Richardson (30-33) / Justise Winslow (24-26) / Derrick Jones Jr. (0, 12-18) / Rodney McGruder / Duncan Robinson
    PF: James Johnson (25-27.5) / Bam Adebayo (20-24)
    C: Hassan Whiteside (24-27) / Kelly Olynyk (24-27)

    Position Battles

    Point Guard: There’s no battle here as Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson will soak up all of the point guard minutes. The Heat are lucky in that they have a few wing and forward types who can pick up the ball-handling slack from time to time to take the pressure off, but Dragic is the only true point guard and Johnson is the most capable combo guard on the squad.

    Shooting Guard: If he’s healthy, Dion Waiters will get a chance to live up to his contract as the starting shooting guard. Wayne Ellington will get good run as a deadeye 3-point shooter and Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson should also get some minutes here. It’s a deep spot, with Derrick Jones Jr. bringing up the rear in case of injuries.

    Small Forward: Richardson will start here after coming into the league as more of a shooting guard. He’s one of the league’s best up-and-coming two-way players and will see a lot of time across multiple positions. Justise Winslow will play some small forward but could also be used primarily as a power forward, though that could depend on who else asserts themselves at different spots on the floor. Rodney McGruder can give the Heat competent minutes from the end of the rotation, while Jones Jr. can fill in here too.

    Power Forward: James Johnson seems like the likely starter but Winslow could end up winning the job. We’d expect Johnson’s versatility and stronger offensive game to win out but Miami might prefer that skillset be used to prop up bench units. Kelly Olynyk and even Bam Adebayo could work in as backups, as the Heat have three centers they’d like to use and not enough minutes for everyone. KO’s shooting makes him more of the natural four in two-big lineups.

    Center: We’ll see what Hassan Whiteside brings to the table this year. He’s being paid too much not to start and can still be an effective player, but he ended last year pretty poorly and wasn’t very tactful in voicing his objections. Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo will eat up whatever minutes Whiteside leaves. Despite all of the wing bodies available here, the center spot may be the tightest competition in terms of straight up utility talent.


    The Heat were extremely annoying to play against last season but their lack of game-breaking talent meant they weren’t a serious threat to most of the league’s top half. Without many moves (despite rumored talks around Whiteside and Tyler Johnson), it’s fair to question what the Heat can realistically hope to achieve until the core of the roster is shaken up. They’re well-coached enough and have the depth to get into the postseason but they’ll be punching up.

    Goran Dragic

    Total Value: 64/80 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 78/103 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 75

    2017-18 Review: Dragic saw some notable declines in his statline this year, namely a dip below 5.0 assists per game, a drop from 1.2 steals to 0.8 and a loss of three points per game largely related to a field goal percentage that fell from .475 to .450. It was the first time since 2014-15 that Dragic hadn’t dropped five dimes a game, the first since 2010-11 that he had failed to notch at least one steal and the first time since 2012-13 that he didn’t hit at least 47.5 percent of his shots from the field.

    The Dragon salvaged things somewhat by playing in 75 games – the most of his Heat career – but it’s funny that his lone All Star appearance came in his worst statistical year in quite some time.

    This Year: At 32, Dragic is likely entering the decline phase of his career. He’s the lone true point guard on the roster and will be heavily involved, however, so perhaps a rebound in the percentages can patch over some of the natural erosion of his stats.

    Injury History: Dragic has been pretty consistent throughout his career, playing between 70 and 80 games every year of his career besides the lockout shortened season (when he played in all 66) and his rookie season. This past season he missed games with knee (one), ankle (three) and elbow (three) injuries while he dealt with a sprained ankle, more elbow issues and back spasms. Further back there’s back, calf and wrist strains.

    Dragic is a moderate injury risk but seems to make his way into enough games that it won’t hurt his draft stock much. He declined to play for Slovenia this summer to save himself some wear and tear, which might help a bit.

    Outlook: Look for Dragic’s ADP to slip. He won’t be a top-50/70 option barring a major bounce back but he should be able to improve on this season’s numbers by a round or so. We’ll take the risk that his field goal percentage and steals were one-year blips rather than fall-off-the-cliff developments.

    Josh Richardson

    Total Value: 36/31 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 58/53 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 81

    2017-18 Review: Richardson was dynamite last season, falling just six blocks short of the elusive triple-one club with 1.5 threes, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks per contest. The Dion Waiters injury definitely helped him out but Richardson was getting minutes anyway and didn’t stumble into a great situation – his skills are the reason he posted fifth round value. He won’t be going criminally underdrafted again.

    This Year: Watch out for some regression in the shooting percentage as J-Rich has gone .452 – .394 – .451 in his three seasons, and this was the first year that he topped .777 from the charity stripe (at .845, no less). His length and athleticism will keep the defensive numbers coming, however, and that’s all that fantasy owners will really be asking for. Everything else is gravy. He’s going to be the team’s top perimeter defender and will see over 30 mpg regardless of how healthy the Heat is.

    Injury History: That said, the poor shooting came during his lone injury-riddled season in the league. Two years ago he missed the first four games of the year with knee soreness, six because of an ankle injury in December and 19 with left foot soreness. We’re not going to call him an injury risk after an 81-game season but it’s something to make note of.

    Outlook: Richardson’s got a great fantasy stat set and a steady role on a team that will put him in a position to succeed. He might be slightly overvalued after this huge year but Richardson is absolutely capable of a top-75 campaign given his points of production.

    Justise Winslow

    Total Value: 200/192 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 217/218 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 68

    2017-18 Review: Winslow did what Winslow does. There were a number of games where he flashed his potential and put together quality multi-cat lines and others where he’d come away with two points and two rebounds. He missed time with injury and posted a passable line of 7.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks and 0.7 3-pointers in 24.7 mpg. That dropped from 34.7 mpg the year prior, while we’re here. If you squint you can see why he earned some late-round selections but ultimately it wasn’t quite there outside of short spurts.

    This Year: Winslow will provide minutes at both forward spots and could even start at the four if the Heat decide James Johnson makes more sense with the second unit. He’ll be lucky to approach 30 mpg.

    Injury History: A left knee injury caused Winslow’s 14 absences this year. In 2016-17 he missed most of the year with a torn labrum but also sat out 16 games with a wrist injury. Add in two minor ankle sprains as a rookie and it’s safe to say that Winslow is at least a moderate injury risk.

    Outlook: Winslow still gives owners cause for optimism and is only 22, but he’s running out of runway as a prospect. The poor shooting is hard to stomach given the spotty nature of his true impact games though but there’s still enough upside here to toss a flier pick at if you believe in his all-around skillset. Just know that the rotation is going to be pretty tight until people start getting hurt.

    James Johnson

    Total Value: 82/97 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 100/109 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 73

    2017-18 Review: Johnson had an undisclosed sports hernia injury and wasn’t the middle-round force we were hoping to see but still put together a productive season, upping his efficiency and returning some all-around lines with small steps back in threes and blocks. He was in and out of the starting lineup, and his numbers were better as a starter but not demonstrably worse in the second unit. He’s a very versatile option for the Heat to fall back on, and his defense and toughness are an asset against just about every opponent.

    This Year: We’re expecting Johnson to win the starting power forward job and keep it this time. He remains an excellent secondary playmaker and has some natural chemistry with Tyler Johnson so the bench option is an appealing one for the coaching staff, but either way Johnson is going to get minutes in the mid-high twenties. Fantasy players should feel confident no matter what as the Heat have found out how to leverage JJ’s strengths in any role.

    Injury History: Johnson was somewhat lucky to only miss nine games after dealing with an ankle sprain, ankle bursitis and knee tendinitis — not to mention the hernia (he’ll be okay for camp). Previously Johnson had dealt with a sore shoulder, a bout of plantar fasciitis, a hamstring strain and a few ankle sprains. That said, he’s as tough as they come and isn’t a serious injury risk, though his physical style will lead to nicks and bumps.

    Outlook: Johnson might see his ADP drop after a slightly disappointing year, in which case we’d advise you to pounce. It wouldn’t take any stunning improvements for Johnson to get back into the top-80 neighborhood. He’ll be worth selecting in the late-middle rounds.

    Hassan Whiteside

    Total Value: 93/84 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 48/39 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 54

    2017-18 Review: Whiteside had a rough season between injuries, poor play and petulance. The fact that he was played off the floor in the postseason is a big red flag, as while most guys struggle against Joel Embiid the Sixers were one of the few teams that wouldn’t willingly play Whiteside out of the game with smaller personnel. If he can’t hang against mostly-traditional centers, then what’s the point?

    He saw his playing time cut drastically during the season as he was working his way back from injuries and was vocal about that. His big categories – points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage – went from 17.0, 14.1, 2.1, and .557 to 14.0, 11.4, 1.7, and .540 with a loss of over seven minutes per game.

    This Year: Whiteside returns to the Heat after a summer of trade rumors and will be looking to get back to the form that earned him his untradeable contract in the first place. The Heat didn’t lose much performance-wise with Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo playing a ton so it’s tough to see how Whiteside gets back above 30 mpg unless there’s a transaction coming.

    He’ll get enough to be placated but the alternatives are too good to brush aside, especially if Whiteside doesn’t improve as a team defender. We’ll see if the jumper he’s been talking about looks any good, too.

    Injury History: Whiteside needed surgery on a torn patellar tendon back in 2011 and suffered a sprained MCL in 2015-16. Last season he missed five games in October due to knee soreness, 13 more with continued knee soreness in November and December, nine in March because of left hip pain and one with an illness. This was his first poor health season since becoming an NBA regular but he looks like one of those guys who will always miss a few games here and there.

    Outlook: If there’s an encouraging sign here it’s that Whiteside’s block rate was strong even if his minutes weren’t. He does so much in a scarce category that he’ll have a safe home in the top-50, though it’s tough to endorse him as an early-round player again until we see some growth in other facets of the game.

    Tyler Johnson

    Total Value: 127/115 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 139/123 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 72

    2017-18 Review: Johnson couldn’t quite follow up on a breakout 2016-17 season, taking a few steps back as he lost a little playing time and usage. His 3-pointers went up to 1.7 per contest but his assists, steals and scoring output all fell. Johnson’s numbers were slightly higher across his 39 starts but nothing earth-shattering. It was a mild disappointment of a season but owners ended up getting a fair return on their ADP, even if Johnson slowed down considerably at the end of the year.

    This Year: We’ll see how Johnson’s numbers hold up if Dion Waiters can last the whole season. It should have a negative impact on Johnson’s playing time but he’ll still be one of the first players off the bench and handle backup point guard work.

    Injury History: Johnson had left shoulder surgery back in 2016 and proceeded to miss time with a sprained left shoulder and shoulder soreness in 2016-17. This past season he missed games with a thigh contusion, a sprained left ankle, an illness, migraines and left shoulder soreness, though thankfully that was only one game. Johnson also underwent offseason surgery on the UCL in his right thumb but is expected to be ready for camp. There’s mild risk here.

    Outlook: There are too many mouths to feed in Miami for Johnson to push out of the late rounds, though he’ll be a 12-team player with contributions in points, threes, assists and steals. He won’t be the most thrilling player to own but he’s steady enough to warrant one of your final two selections in standard leagues.

    Dion Waiters

    Total Value: 301/335 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 181/254 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 30

    2017-18 Review: Waiters’ season was cut short by the same ankle injury that ended his 2016-17 campaign as he was forced to go under the knife after hoping that an offseason of rest and treatment would get him right. While his field goal percentage predictably dropped back to untenable levels, his assists stayed up and his free throws improved drastically.

    We weren’t too enthusiastic about Waiters continuing his sterling play and he wasn’t a standard league player in the time he was active, though it’s a bit unfair to judge him based on this short campaign.

    This Year: The Heat played it coy for most of the offseason but it’s expected that Waiters will be ready for camp, and as such, the season. If the team doesn’t see the need for kid gloves he should be the starting shooting guard but the growth of Josh Richardson might push him back into the mid-high twenties instead of the thirties as far as playing time is concerned. Some more restraint would be nice to see as well, but at least he’s become a marginally more willing playmaker in his recent seasons.

    Injury History: Waiters’ left ankle has taken a beating in the last two seasons, and in 2016-17 he also missed 20 games with a sore ankle. He hyperextended his left knee in five years ago and had loose cartilage discovered in 2013, plus more left ankle issues back in 2012. He’s a definite injury risk given that his left ankle hasn’t been healthy in over a year now.

    Outlook: While Waiters is always capable of putting up points and threes and seems to be steadying out at three-plus dimes with the Heat, we remain concerned that his output there won’t be undone by ugly efficiency, increasing turnovers and lackluster contributions elsewhere in the box. If you want to take a flier on him you can go right ahead, but Waiters looks like someone who might top out in the top-150 unless he has another huge bender at some point.

    Kelly Olynyk

    Total Value: 71/81 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 95/106 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 76

    2017-18 Review: Olynyk’s fun skillset always seemed like a great fit in Miami, who can generally get the best out of some funky players who couldn’t quite get everything to click at other stops in the league. It proved true again for our HB6er as KO delivered a top-80 campaign and went on a few big runs with Hassan Whiteside struggling to stay healthy.

    He set new career-highs in minutes, points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers and free throw percentage and coasted to a big fantasy year on his unique blend of 3-pointers, assists and free throw percentage for a big man. A massive March certainly carried some fantasy owners into the playoffs as well.

    This Year: While Olynyk’s numbers as a replacement starter weren’t dramatically better than his overall numbers, those starts gave him a chance to get some extra minutes in. A healthy Whiteside and a developing Adebayo might cap Olynyk’s upside considerably, even if he’s still going to get 20 mpg.

    Injury History: A shoulder injury sidelined Olynyk for six games, which is mildly concerning given the amount of shoulder problems he’s endured in his career already. In 2016-17 Olynyk missed one game with a strained left shoulder after sitting out the season’s first six games with shoulder soreness. He battled a shoulder injury the year before that as well. While KO seems to be getting more durable, the accumulated shoulder injuries are something to remember.

    Outlook: From Olynyk’s perspective it’s a bummer that Whiteside wasn’t moved, as even though 23.4 mpg is perfectly repeatable he won’t have the same opportunity to play bigger minutes in extended stretches. Even so, Olynyk will be a great get in the later rounds and should be a comfortable top-125 option when on the floor given his unique suite of stats at his position.

    Bam Adebayo

    Total Value: 221/217 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 248/247 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 69

    2017-18 Review: The Heat selected Adebayo 14th overall in the draft and he ended up delivering a strong season considering Miami’s depth at the center spot. Bam averaged 19.8 mpg with 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per contest. In 19 starts he averaged 24.1 mpg to go with 7.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.5 blocks a night. He earned his way into the rotation despite being stuck in a tough spot, so good on him.

    This Year: Adebayo can provide good athleticism and some hustle, and we wouldn’t be shocked to see him work on extending his range a little to round out his game. He’ll see backup minutes at both frontcourt spots, saying he’s become very comfortable with the four this summer, but center should be his long-term home.

    While the Heat won’t need Adebayo to produce in order to be successful, you can bet they’ll want to see his growth continue as they peddle the Whiteside deal around the league. From early quotes from Spoelstra it sounds like they’ll put Bam in more decision-making scenarios as well.

    Injury History: Adebayo missed three games with an ankle injury and sustained a high ankle sprain back before he turned pro but that’s all that’s on the record.

    Outlook: Adebayo would’ve been a really nice fantasy target had any of those rumored Whiteside trades come to pass, but no dice. He’s a solid pickup in dynasty formats but is only looking like a top-250 guy in re-drafts unless his playmaking comes along incredibly quickly.

    Wayne Ellington

    Total Value: 142/110 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 176/135 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 77

    2017-18 Review: The Man with the Golden Arm established a new franchise record with 227 3-pointers last season, which also set the NBA record for most threes by a reserve player.

    Ellington set new career-highs in points, 3-pointers and steals and was a big asset in 9-cat leagues thanks to just 0.7 turnovers a night. He sunk a 3-pointer in 69 of his 77 games this season and ranked eighth in the league by drilling 2.9 per contest. There were even multi-week stretches of standard league value to be had.

    This Year: Ellington returns and will slot right back into his role from last season. Run around screens, rise and fire. Nice work if you can get it.

    Injury History: A sore shoulder cost Ellington one game in February and missed four in March with a quad contusion. He separated his shoulder back in 2015 and also dealt with quad and hamstring strains in 2016-17. He probably won’t play in all 82 but he shouldn’t vanish for weeks at a time.

    Outlook: Ellington will always provide specialist value and hold streaming appeal, but the fact that Miami has so many guards means that his workload will always be subject to game flow and matchups. We wouldn’t bank on a top-150 season again but Ellington has his bread and butter so it’s not the craziest thought in the world.

    Dwyane Wade

    Total Value: 169/198 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 172/221 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 67

    2017-18 Review: Wade began his year on the ill-conceived Cavs roster that was blown up at the deadline. Father Prime was demoted from the starting lineup as everything went wrong in Cleveland, but he had some vintage performances once he got back into shape with the Heat.

    Unfortunately those often came as a result of inflated volume, which also wreaked havoc with his already-shaky percentages. The decline was evident but Wade did look more like himself once he joined a team that knew how to use him.

    This Year: Wade’s back for “one last dance.” It’ll complicate the backcourt rotation considerably and D-Wade probably won’t have enough juice to be worth your time in fantasy outside of his random throwback nights.

    Injury History: Wade missed five games with a hamstring injury, one with a wrist injury and then a handful more for maintenance and rest. He’s got a broken elbow on record plus a ton of ankle, hip, knee, shoulder and wrist ailments. He’s not so much of an injury risk as he is a rest risk, so that’s a bit of a double-edged sword.

    Outlook: Wade didn’t come back for the farewell tour treatment and he should be given a role with minutes in the high teens at minimum. It won’t be enough for value outside of 16-team formats but he’ll have some retro nights to capture the imagination of novice fantasy owners. Don’t chase the narrative.

    Rodney McGruder

    Total Value: 400/392 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 355/318 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 18

    2017-18 Review: McGruder made 65 starts in 2016-17 but was limited to just 18 games as a result of a stress fracture in his leg. It’d be unfair to grade his season as anything other than incomplete, though he wasn’t going to be making that many starts again as long as the Heat weren’t racked by injuries.

    This Year: Miami guaranteed his contract and will welcome him back into the fold, though he’s only looking at spot minutes as the low man on the depth chart.

    Injury History: McGruder missed three games with an ankle sprain in his rookie year before a stress fracture kept him out for most of this season.

    Outlook: McGruder would be able to grind out numbers befitting ownership in 20-team leagues if the minutes were there, but that’ll only happen if someone ahead of him sustains a serious injury.

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