STAYING: Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem … James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, Okaro White and Justise Winslow.
ADDED: Bam Adebayo (Kentucky), AJ Hammons (Dallas), Kelly Olynyk (Boston), Derrick Walton (Michigan) and Matt Williams (Central Florida).
GONE: Luke Babbitt (Atlanta), Josh McRoberts (Dallas) and Willie Reed (LA Clippers).
STRENGTHS: They developed pretty special chemistry late last season during a 30-11 run that almost got them into the playoffs … After that, they basically brought the band back … If that was no fluke, watch out … Point guard Goran Dragic is a constant threat driving to the basket … He finishes well at the rim and has the ability to kick the ball out to perimeter shooters … He hits threes at a very good clip himself too … Hassan Whiteside is one of the most intimidating presences in the paint the league has to offer and has an offensive game that now goes beyond dunking anything around the rim … Franchise culture is one of hard work … Players typically buy in and have some of their best seasons in the NBA in a Heat uniform … Dion Waiters and James Johnson were obvious examples last year … Miami improved frontcourt depth with the addition of Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo, who looked terrific in summer league … He may be an unexpected contributor early on … They have a terrific head coach in Erik Spoelstra … In an extremely weak Eastern Conference, a decent squad like Miami can get places.
WEAKNESSES: Average team talent-wise … No clear-cut All-Star … Can you count on Dion Waiters being the consistent, efficient contributor he was for the first time last season? … They are a bit thin at the small forward position, especially if Justise Winslow is rusty coming off injury … They were by far the worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA last season … That needs to improve … They’ve consistently been near the bottom of the league in fast-break points the last few years … With a point guard like Dragic and a bunch of good athletes around him, they could push the pace a bit more.
PREDICTION: 2nd in the Southeast Division, 6th in the Eastern Conference.