BOCA RATON — What a difference a year makes.
After losing Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat featured a new-look roster that entered training camp last season with a lot of unanswered questions. Fast forward one year, and that new-look roster isn’t so new anymore.
Miami opened training camp Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University with 11 players from last year’s season-ending roster, including the established core of Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside.
“That is continuity that we feel matters, that means something,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We don’t take it for granted. It doesn’t guarantee results or even that we will play the way we were at the end of last year. Each season is new. You have to be open to the possibilities. But, it does allow me to prepare for this training camp different than it was last year. It will be a little bit more of a practice setting than a training camp where you have to install new philosophies to the majority of the team.”
That’s exactly how Tuesday morning’s practice felt in Boca Raton.
“Like I said before, we’re not the 11-30 team or the 30-11 team, but what we brought back was a lot of the same guys,” James Johnson said. “We’re comfortable with each other. We know how competitive we are and how competitive it can get in these training camps. It’s a shark tank.”
Despite bringing back a lot of the same guys, there are still a few question marks surrounding the Heat. And a lot of them have to do with health, as Miami led the NBA with 328 game missed due to injury or illness last season.
Winslow accounted a lot of those games missed after undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in January. But Winslow, who said he dropped about 10 pounds this summer, was able to go through Miami’s first training camp practice and felt “fine.”
“We did a couple of post-up drills and I was banging pretty hard and afterwards, I was like, ‘Wow, that was my right shoulder.’ It felt fine,” Winslow said after Tuesday morning’s session. “I didn’t feel anything, took some bumps, fell to the ground. Nothing.”
Waiters is another player who missed a lot of games due to injuries last season. A sprained left ankle forced Waiters to miss the final 13 games of the regular season and he’s still feeling lingering effects from the injury, saying Monday that the ankle is still “a little swollen” even though he sprained it six months ago in March.
But Spoelstra said he didn’t notice the ankle giving Waiters any problems when he was on the court Tuesday.
“Dion looks great,” Spoelstra said. “He’s in very good shape. His speed is where it was when he was at his quickest last year if not better right now.”
Waiters answered questions about the nagging injury for the second consecutive day Tuesday and said dealing with the pain is going to be a process, adding that he will continue to go through extensive treatment on his ankle.
“It’s aching a little bit,” Waiters said. “But if I take a little Tylenol, I’ll be alright.”
Dragic is not dealing with an injury, but the Heat are managing his court time after he spent the last month leading Slovenia to the EuroBasket gold medal. Dragic was able to go through the Heat’s first practice, though, after returning to South Florida from Slovenia on Sunday.
“I feel like I’m one of those guys who needs to be an example for those young guys, for the rookies, it doesn’t matter,” Dragic said. “I’m tired but the best way to prevent jet lag is to practice. I went through the whole practice. I felt a little bit tired and now it’s nap time. So I’m going to have a good nap.”
The Heat will continue training camp at FAU Arena on Wednesday, as they will hold two-a-day practice sessions through Friday before holding an open scrimmage on Saturday at 11 a.m. From there, Miami will jump right into the preseason with a Sunday home game against the Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It feels good, man,” Waiters said about opening camp. “A bunch of energy out here. Everybody is excited just to get back with the guys. We had a hell of a first day, man. We got to keep moving forward, keep getting better. That’s all we can do.”