MIAMI — It’s hard to believe, but the Heat begin training camp in just four weeks.
Besides trying to build on the 30-11 finish to last season, what’s going to be Erik Spoelstra’s biggest challenge this year? We answer that question and more in the latest installment of the Heat mailbag.
Joe, Palm Beach Gardens: What will be Erik Spoelstra’s biggest challenge this upcoming season?
Anthony Chiang: Have you looked at all of the guards on this Heat roster? Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters. Erik Spoelstra is going to have to figure out a way to find minutes for all of these guards. That’s not going to be easy. In fact, this is going to be one of Erik’s biggest challenges this season. That long list of guards doesn’t include rookies Derrick Walton Jr. and Matt Williams Jr. because they are expected to spend most of the year in Sioux Falls playing in the G-League. But with Goran, Wayne, Tyler, Rodney, Josh and Dion, Erik has six very capable guards who deserve to play important minutes. Each of these players averaged 24 or more minutes per game last season with the Heat. While it seems mathematically impossible to give that many minutes to all six guards, injuries opened the door to this possibility. Justise Winslow missed the final 48 games of the season with a shoulder injury, opening the door for Rodney to take over as the starting (small) small forward. And Wayne, Josh and Dion combined to miss 85 games last season, which allowed for Erik to simply play the guards who were healthy at that moment. But if the Heat’s guards can avoid injury this season, things won’t be as simple. Goran and Dion are starters. Tyler is expected to play in the sixth man role off the bench for the second consecutive year. Look for Erik to use three-guard lineups to find minutes for the others. This is all assuming Dwyane Wade doesn’t return to Miami this season. If he does, things are going to be even more complicated.
@heatdolfan4Life: Do you think Justise Winslow will reach his potential this year? Or at least scrape the surface of Jimmy Butler or Paul George?
Anthony Chiang: Jimmy Butler and Paul George are two of the NBA’s top players. It’s time to recalibrate our expectations for Justise for this upcoming season. He’s 21 years old and has played in just 96 regular-season NBA games. A more efficient and consistent offensive game is the main thing many want to see from Justise. That would be enough to say he’s moving in the right direction.