With the NBA season finally upon us, hoops hot takes are already in full swing. So, let’s consider what might be especially hot about the Miami Heat in 2019-20
With Jimmy Butler “ever-edgy,” as Marc Stein called him in The New York Times, and Dion Waiters exploring the boundaries of professionalism on social media, it feels like a good time to linger on the Miami Heat.
I had a few hot takes teed up for this article, including the idea that James Johnson can stay fit despite acclaimed eatery, Boia De, opening in Miami over the summer; and that Kelly Olynyk will make the very sharp Miami Vice uni his own by coupling it with a Don Johnson-style haircut.
While both of these seem likely scenarios, I’ve come to realize that even Heat hot takes can quickly cool.
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So, let’s not risk lukewarm talking points and instead consider a more realistic proclamation, like the Heat backcourt has enough talent to help this club make a deep playoff run.
Park your fedora a moment and enjoy a cafecito, you’ve been spending too much time in the sun, my friend. It’s going to be hot inside and out of American Airlines Arena in 2019-20 because the Heat’s attack will combine speed and athleticism to complement its feisty defense.
Forget Miami tank jobs: it’s time to pull on your favorite tank top and consider new horizons.
The Heat has size and length, sure, but what has me most excited is its revised backcourt, which couples the steady hands of Goran Dragic and Butler (at times), with rising talents Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro.
It’s an intriguing quartet, not just this season but – if they gel – as a unit into the future. I hope Dragic and Butler light it up, while also tutoring Winslow and Herro on how to handle Waiters. If that happens, and Dion Waiters plays a willing support role, the Heat’s Fab Four (plus Waiters) will be lively.
Winslow and Herro need a good start (Jimmy will start at the 3), and everything we’ve seen in the preseason suggests they will come out firing. Dragic and Waiters are professionals and will be ready to go. Waiters is said to be in good shape. So, all up, the Heat’s top guards might provide a spoil of riches for coach Erik Spoelstra. Think of him as a Jon Favreau-type chef, whipping up sandwiches in the back of a food truck, using whatever ingredients he has at hand.
In fact, there’s no reason why these guys can’t each find their shot while creating space on the perimeter and making those tidy little hand-offs Miami like to run.
Then, there’s the Miami break. My favorite Heat-style play is when say, Winslow, rips the ball from an opponent’s grasp and starts racing down the court. As defenders close, he spots an open Herro or Olynyk on the wing for 3, or a trailing Bam Adeyabo hopping toward the basket as he’s on the hot South Beach sand. I can see the Heat getting a lot of easy scores on slower transition defenses this way.
Listen, the Miami break is going to be special: most of the players on this club can motor, and the prospect of them tossing alley-oops and Dan Marino-like bombs to teammates such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Adeyabo is straight out of Pat Riley’s Showtime notebook. As a result, I think Miami competes with most clubs in the East. This team is a potential four seed.
Ultimately, Butler will set the tone. He’s not simply a star signing but a headline maker. Indeed, the Heat will go as Jimmy goes, and though Jimmy’s new in town and Jimmy doesn’t really know anyone, Jimmy appears to like the Heat.
Of course, he does, he’s the new Dwyane Wade. He’s Wade with a philosopher’s mind and an eye for Instagram. The only issue I see here is if he starts up with cryptic postgame quotes that send everybody mixed messages. As we all know, this isn’t beyond the realm of possibility and he’s already in rare quote-giving-comment-posting mode.
But if we see a content Butler, presumably with the ball going through his hands early and often, it should all go swimmingly for Miami. Yes, Eastern Conference rivals will need to stay cool-headed against the rising Heat, and that’s no hot take, folks.