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Can Miami Carry Momentum Into 2017-18?
Notable Players Acquired: C A.J. Hammons (trade), C Kelly Olynyk (free agency), PF-C Bam Adebayo (draft)
Notable Players Lost: PF Chris Bosh (waived), F Josh McRoberts (trade), F Luke Babbit (free agency)
Miami finished last season with a 41-41 record, just the tie breaker away from capturing the eighth spot in the East over the Bulls.
It was truly a tale of two halves for Miami. Before the All-Star Break, Miami was 25-32. After? 16-9.
And this was a team that was supposed to be vying for a top-5 pick, not a postseason spot.
Point guard Goran Dragic was the alpha, averaging 20.3 points per game to go with 5.8 assists. Hassan Whiteside was an animal on the glass, averaging 14.1 rebounds per game, 2.1 blocks and to go with 17 points.
The big surprise, though, came from shooting guard Dion Waiters, who was a second thought to most heading into the season. Waiters, just 25, emerged back onto the scene, averaging 15.8 points in his first season in Miami, shooting 39.5 percent from the 3-point line. However, Waiters played in just 46 games due to an ankle injury.
Overall, the 2016-17 season for Miami should be looked at as a positive considering the outlook going into the season wasn’t very promising.
The Big Question
Can Miami replicate its second-half success in 2017-18? The Heat clicked during the final months of the season, but will they be able to kick off this season like they ended last? That will be tough, but Eric Spoelstra is one of the best coaches in the league. One thing Miami has in its favor? Six of the team’s first seven games are at home.
Shooting guard Wayne Ellington spent his first three seasons in Minnesota after the Wolves drafted him 28th overall in 2009. In his three seasons in Minnesota, Ellington averaged 6.5 points per game while shooting 37.6 percent from the 3-point line. In his first season with Miami last season, Ellington averaged a career-high 10.5 points per game.
Miami should be better in 2017-18 than it was last season just based on talent. Olynyk isn’t a star, but he’s a solid player and will get time to shine in Miami. He’s averaged 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds through his four-year career with Boston and shot 40.5 percent from the 3-point line two years ago. With Dragic, Olynyk, Waiters and Whiteside, this isn’t a group that wows you, but the team has depth with guys like Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. With the loss of star players to the Bulls, Hawks and Pacers (all playoff teams last season), I think the Heat will claim one of the last two or three spots in the East.