20 bold predictions for the upcoming Miami Heat season

Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat looks on during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Arena on May 9, 2016 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat looks on during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Arena on May 9, 2016 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

ORLANDO – The Heat open the 2016-17 season tonight in Orlando, a season that brings a lot of new faces and a changing of the (shooting) guard (and power forward and small forward, for that matter).

The Heat are also one of the more unpredictable NBA teams as the national columns, forecasts prove. But we at the Post will attempt to give you a glimpse of what to expect.

Here are 10 bold predictions from each of our Heat writers, Anthony Chiang and Tom D’Angelo.

Anthony’s predictions for the 2016-17 Heat season …

1. Hassan Whiteside will make the All-Star game: The Heat will be represented in this year’s NBA All-Star game. Center Hassan Whiteside will make the All-Star game as a reserve after averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks over the first half of the season. This is good news for the Heat after they invested $98 million in the 27-year-old this past summer.

2. Justise Winslow will play 36 minutes per game: The 20-year-old is going to lead the Heat in minutes this season and will average 36 minutes per game. That would have ranked as the eighth-most minutes per game in the NBA last season. Winslow averaged 28.6 minutes per game as a rookie.

3. The Heat will average 25 three-point shot attempts per game: Considering that Miami averaged 18 three-point shot attempts per game last season, this is a big jump. The Heat proved they are ready to take more shots from long range in the preseason when they shot 27.9 three pointers per game. The question is, how many will Miami make?

4. Josh Richardson will be the starting shooting guard when healthy: This won’t be the case to start the season since Josh Richardson is still recovering from a partially torn MCL he suffered in September. But when Richardson returns, he will be the Heat’s starting shooting guard.

5. Josh McRoberts will play in more than 50 games: This is definitely a bold prediction considering Josh McRoberts is not available for the start of the season due to a foot injury. But it seems like McRoberts is close to coming back and he will have a consistent role on this team as a backup center and power forward. He’s missed 88 games over the past two seasons due to various injuries.

6. The Heat will not be one of the 10 best defensive teams this season: Losing Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, and replacing them with guys like Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams will hurt the Heat on the defensive end of the floor. In addition, Miami’s new fast-paced style will hurt the Heat’s defensive numbers.

7. Goran Dragic will have a career season: The Slovenian point guard is going to have a big season in the Heat’s new offense. Miami is going to play fast and score in transition, which is the style that best suits Dragic. Dragic’s career-highs entering this season are 20.3 points and 7.4 assists. He will average 22 points and seven assists this year.

8. Justise Winslow will be a 32 percent three-point shooter: After shooting 27.6 percent from three-point range as a rookie, Justise Winslow made it a priority to improve his shot this offseason. It’s going to pay off this year with a five percent improvement. That’s a big jump in just one season.

9. The Heat will be one of the five worst free-throw shooting teams in the NBA: Just take a look at the preseason. Miami finished the preseason as the second-worst free throw shooting team in the NBA at 66.3 percent. The Heat shot 74.5 percent from the free-throw line last season. But offseason additions like Willie Reed (career 54.5 percent free throw shooter) and Dion Waiters (career 70.7 percent free throw shooter) will hurt.

10. The Heat will make the playoffs with 40 wins: There won’t be a championship this season, but the playoffs are in Miami’s future. The Heat will make the Eastern Conference playoffs as the eighth seed, but they will lose in the first round to the top-seeded Cavaliers.

Tom’s predictions for the 2016-17 Heat season …

1. Hassan Whiteside will average 20/12/3.5: That’s 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots. Not outrageous numbers considering Whiteside’s 36 minute averages in the preseason (24.3/16.8/3.8) and the fact he will be more of a focal point in the offense.

2. This will be Goran Dragic’s final season with the Heat: Let’s face it, this is a transition year and most of the players on this team will not return. Miami is looking to free up cap space and shedding $17 million Dragic is owned next year and $37 million (including player option in 2019-20) the next two would be huge relief.

3. The Heat will win fewer than 40 games for just the second time since 2007-08: Since the 15-67 season in 2007-08 that led to Pat Riley handing over the team to Erik Spoelstra, Miami has been under .500 once: 37-45 in 2014-15. This team will come close to challenging that mark for the worst in the Spo era but just beat it out. Look for 38 wins.

4. Udonis Haslem will soon own every franchise in South Florida: The Heat’s captain will be as successful off the floor when he retires as he has been on it for the last 13 years. He is adding two Einstein Bros. Bagels and two Starbucks franchise to his growing portfolio that includes five Subway sandwich shops and two Auntie Anne’s.

5. Chris Bosh will sign a contract for the minimum after he is waived by the Heat: And that should come sometime after March 1 when Bosh’s career with the Heat officially ends, although is it technically over now. But Bosh won’t give up so easy and likely has one more comeback attempt in him.

6. The Heat will be in the top 10 in 3-point field goal attempts: Miami has added several 3-point shooters – Luke Babbitt, Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Derrick Williams – and was among the league leaders during the preseason with just under 28 attempts per game, which was 10 more than it hoisted per game last season.

7. Dion Waiters will lead the Heat in field goal attempts: Waiters has been waiting for this after spending the last two season deferring to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in OKC. He led the Heat with nine attempts per game in the preseason. In 2013—14 he averaged 14.2 shots for the Cavs, second only to Kyrie Irving.

8. The Heat will use at least 20 players this year: Considering the possibility of an in-season trade and the desire to look at young players, this is not a stretch. Miami used 19 last year and 22 during that 15-win season in 2007-08.

9. Derrick Williams will emerge as a capable starting power forward: I like what I saw from the journeyman forward in the preseason. He averaged 9.4 points, 4.5 boards, showed an ability to hit a 3 (11 of 33) and is very athletic. He will benefit from the up-temp style and his defense should improve.

10. Russell Westbrook will demand a trade and the Heat will kick the tires: The question is, what does Miami sent to OKC? Dragic is the obvious first name but it will take a lot more, such as adding Justise Winslow for starters.

HEAT SEASON PREVIEW STUFF

[Despite low expectations from outside, Heat believe they can ‘win now’]

Erik Spoelstra: I could have been fired four times by another team

Our reporters’ predictions for the 2016-17 NBA season

Meet your Miami Heat: Bios for all 15 players on 2016-17 team

20-year-old Justise Winslow ready to take next step, carry more responsibility for Heat

Reader Comments 0

0 comments