MIAMI — Justise Winslow is expected to be ready for the start of the season. The question is, will he get his starting job back?
Rodney McGruder will compete with Justise to be the Heat’s starting small forward, but don’t forget about Josh Richardson. Is Josh a realistic option to start at small forward this season?
We answer that question and more in the latest installment of the Heat mailbag.
Ryan: Is Josh Richardson really a realistic option to start at small forward for the Heat this season?
Anthony Chiang: Definitely. You can include Josh Richardson on the list of players competing for the starting small forward job, along with Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder. The Heat used Justise as their starting three last season before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in January. Once Justise was sidelined for the year, Miami turned to Rodney to replace him in the starting lineup during the second half of the season. But that doesn’t mean Miami is going to overlook Josh for the job. Remember that Justise’s shoulder is going to be a question mark until he proves it’s 100 percent over the next few months. And the Heat feel like Rodney would be even more effective in a bench role. So that’s where Josh enters the picture. Josh is listed as a guard, but he spent 80 percent of his minutes at small forward last season, according to Basketball Reference, so he has experience at the position. At 6-foot-6, he also has the size and length to play the position. Plus, Josh is statistically the best 3-point shooter in the group. That makes him a good fit for the Heat’s drive-and-kick offense next to the starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. So, yes, Josh is definitely a realistic option for the starting job at small forward.
@Aj3th: The over-under betting line for the Heat’s win total for this season is 43 1/2 games. Do you think that’s too low?
Anthony Chiang: It might be a little low, but it’s not far off. I think the Heat will win more than 43 games, with the help of their schedule. The four East teams the Heat will see only three times this season are the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks. Each of these teams made the playoffs last season and are expected to be in the playoff picture again this year, with the Cavaliers and Celtics widely regarded as the top two teams in the conference. Miami plays the other 10 East opponents four times — two times at home and two times on the road. One fewer game against the Cavaliers, Celtics, Raptors and Bucks should definitely help the Heat this season.