The Miami Heat were one shot away from going back to the NBA Finals before the Boston Celtics escaped with a narrow Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference Finals. That was six months ago, but for many, that memory is as fresh as ever.
Headed into the offseason, many rumors swirled around the Heat and potentially making a trade for All-Stars Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell. This raised the question of what the team was thinking of in terms of the roster and rotation.
In the end, old was new again, as Miami will enter the season with a roster that is similar to the last.
P.J. Tucker, who was a huge piece of the Miami team in their playoff run this year, signed a massive contract with the 76ers, raising concerns about the team’s depth and also their rotation.
Miami drafted Nikola Jovic at No. 27 of the first round in June, and though he looked like a reach at the time, his performance in the summer league shows he might be a good piece off the bench.
In the starting rotation, fans will see many of the same components that took Miami to a game of the NBA Finals. And the players, at least for now, are okay with that.
“I still have that deadly way to be myself and be who I am, but I feel like all the guys, who are substituting for P.J. (Tucker), are qualified for it,” Miami’s Bam Adebayo said during the team’s Media Day.
In a quiet free-agency period, the Heat re-signed Victor Oladipo to a two-year deal with a player option in the second year. The team also re-signed Dewayne Dedmon for two years and Caleb Martin for three years. They look to run it back with most of last year’s squad, and they haven’t changed their mentality on anything either. With few additions like Jovic, forward Haywood Highsmith, and center Orlando Robinson, the team looks to switch up their small ball look from last year.
And just as training camp opened up, came another important signing, when the Heat re-upped with guard Tyler Herro on a four-year, $130 million contract extension.
“Our versatility is a really important part of our makeup,” coach Erik Spoesltra said during training camp. “We have to be able to look at different combinations just to see what they look like against competition.”
In today’s day and age of rosters turning over seemingly annually, the route Miami is taking is rare. Adding small pieces here and there, and locking up the main pieces might not be flashy, but there is a system in place and it’s hard to argue with the results.
The Heat have turned no-names into household names, and they are not shy to add players that didn’t fit the mold of other teams to further develop them here in Miami.
The Heat seem to have a knack for these undrafted players or even players who were overlooked on other teams. Duncan Robinson and Max Strus were both players that emerged as great shooters for the team both being key pieces in the team’s three-point success this season, emerging as the best three-point scoring offense in the league.
One of the most successful teams in three-point scoring in recent memory, the Golden State Warriors, followed a similar structure to the Heat, although their rebuild was quicker and more successful. The Warriors missed two straight playoff appearances in 2020 and 2021 due to injuries and players leaving the team in free agency. They developed their draft picks Jordan Poole and James Wiseman to be key pieces in the team with some success, as Wiseman has been underwhelming while Poole has been outstanding for the team.
With the emergence of Poole as a key rotation player and star for the Warriors, they were able to make it back to the NBA Finals with their original big three in Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry and win the Finals in 2022. The Heat are hoping to follow suit with their roster with aspirations to win a championship.
“We make things work around here,” Adebayo had to say about the team’s rotation. “Even if people think it doesn’t, we somehow make it work.”
And betting on themselves, as players and as collective team, helps that process.
“I’m one of the competitors on the team, I’m competing for the spot right now,” Herro said. “It is what you want as a competitor. I don’t want anything handed to me.”
Now that the roster appears to be set, this confident group is ready to get back to the business of competing in the loaded Eastern Conference.
“I feel like the five out there are gonna make it work,” Adebayo said regarding the team’s starting five. “We’re gonna figure it out and then it’s Coach’s job to help us adjust.”