If you were to ask me who is the most surprising team so far this year, my answer would be the Miami Heat without question. This was a team that, even with Jimmy Butler signing, they wouldn’t make much of a difference. Some thought they could miss the playoffs because lack of depth and no true second-guy. Of course we are only six games into the 2019-20 season, but so far the Heat are making the doubters pay.
Last year, the Miami Heat missed the playoffs entirely and finished the season 39-43. They had no true number one star that can lead you to a win and were more focused on Dwyane Wade’s farewell than anything else regarding winning. Josh Richardson was their leading scorer at 16.6 and relied on players like Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow and Wade to provide some of the scoring.
This year’s team however, a much different situation. They obviously have an All-Star in Jimmy Butler leading the team, along with a litany of shooters and defenders. They have Winslow who is playing great defense and is rebounding at a high-rate and becoming a better play-maker. You have Bam Adebayo as your starting Center, proving to be a huge improvement from Hassan Whiteside. He is giving this team 13.8 points and nine rebounds a game, and blocking over one-and-a-half shots. The Heat also have depth in guys like Dragic, Kelly Olynyk, James Johsnon and Meyers Leonard with experience in the NBA.
There is just one more thing that is impressive, the Heat’s rookies. They have made impact immediately for this team with the ability to score and play high-IQ basketball. Their first-round pick Tyler Herro is becoming a stud, right before our very-eyes. He is averaging 15.7 points and six rebounds a game on 43 percent shooting and 36 percent from deep. Even more impressive is their un-drafted rookies in Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson. They have each had nights of carrying the scoring load, and helping the team get wins. Just last night against the Houston Rockets filled with superstars, Robinson shot 7/11 from deep for 23 points and also contributed six assists and rebounds. Nunn had a spectacular game against the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 28 points on 10/15 from the field. He found his way to the basket almost every time, and hit four three’s in big moments.
This is a huge testament to two people, first is Head-Coach Erik Spoelstra. There are very coaches in this league that can make guys look great like Spoelstra. He never got the credit for those Heatles days, but he’s proving doubters wrong so far this season. Spoelstra has instilled confidence in every single player this season and made this team look incredible to start. It’s not just with the young guys either, it’s with the veterans as well. I have never seen (Meyers) Leonard play this aggressive in my life. Dragic seems rejuvenated from seasons past, doesn’t feel the pressure to carry the team perhaps. Spoelstra even made Dion Waiters look like a serviceable starter at one point (about two-three years ago), that alone is fantastic. Even with Butler out for the first three games, he had this team beating the Milwaukee Bucks.
The other person who deserves a boat-load of credit is Jimmy Butler. No, not because of his stats and shooting percentages (he’s not shooting above 40 percent even). It’s because his leadership has vastly improved and rubbed-off well with the team. Butler has always been someone that plays hard and expects a lot out of his guys, and this team is responding tremendously. He has embraced his role as an overall player, as play-making and defense has been ridiculous. Through the three games he has played so far this year, Butler is averaging 14.3 points, seven rebounds, 7.3 assists and 4.3 steals a game. Those numbers are insane, albeit just three games. They have stomped the Hawks and Rockets however, and the entire roster has taken a liking to Butler’s way of leadership.
Of course it’s only six games into the season and the Heat aren’t a team that you will see win a title. But in free-agencies down the road they can get players to come play in Miami. Butler, Spoelstra and the rest of the Heat organization are trying to prove they are the real deal this season. I don’t see them beating the likes of a 76ers or Bucks team, but they are proving you’re going to have to be on top of your game to beat them. This defense is lethal, and the offense has shooters with a great mix of youth and experience along with a great Head-Coach. A lot of people slept on the Miami Heat, but it might be time to wake up.