NBA season preview: Miami Heat

STAYING: Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Udonis Haslem, Tyler Johnson, Josh McRoberts, Josh Richardson, Briante Weber, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow.

ADDED: Luke Babbitt (New Orleans), Keith Benson (Sioux Falls Skyforce), Wayne Ellington (Brooklyn), Stefan Jankovic (Hawaii), James Johnson (Toronto), Rodney McGruder (Sioux Falls Skuforce), Willie Reed (Brooklyn), Beno Udrih, Dion Waiters (Oklahoma City), Okaro White (Aris Thessaloniki) and Derrick Williams (New York).

GONE: Luol Deng (LA Lakers), Gerald Green (Boston), Joe Johnson (Utah), Amare Stoudemire (Hapoel Jerusalem), Dwyane Wade (Chicago) and Dorell Wright (LA Clippers).

STRENGTHS: Hassan Whiteside has developed into one of the top centers in the NBA … His impact on the defensive end is enormous thanks to his length, mobility, timing and energy … It’s a triple-double waiting to happen … And he does it with blocks! … Solid play at the point guard position with Goran Dragic, who’s really good at driving and finishing at the basket … Young, explosive and talented perimeter players in Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson … Expect more fast-break points this season … If he finally puts it all together, Dion Waiters‘ pickup could be a bargain … Erik Spoelstra is an underrated coach who typically does well with what management gives him.

WEAKNESSES: Franchise is wrecked by the departure of Dwyane Wade and the unlikely return of Chris Bosh due to health problems … On-court production takes a big hit … Same goes for locker room leadership and mentorship for the Heat’s young players … There’s no clear go-to guy on the team now … Where is the (efficient) scoring going to come from? … Three-point shooting will likely remain a problem … They are pretty thin at most positions … The Heat will be forced to play their young talent a lot … Good for development, not so good for the W column.

PREDICTION: 4th in the Southeast Division, 12th in the Eastern Conference.



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