Pat Riley: ‘I wouldn’t want to play against our guys. They are so competitive’

MIAMI — No superstars, no All Stars, no problem.

The Heat’s current 19-man roster has combined to make zero All-Star game appearances, but Heat president Pat Riley is confident in this team entering the season.

“My thought is that we’ve been picked by a lot of the experts somewhere down at the bottom of the Eastern Conference eight,” Riley told Sirius XM Radio for a Heat preview show airing at 7 p.m. Wednesday. “And why not jump out and start and play with who people consider to be the top four. So it’s up to them. They don’t have to back up last year. Last year was last year. This year is this year. What they need to do is to transform and transcend above and beyond having to have a Big 3. And I do think we have the ability to do that internally.”

Heat president Pat Riley and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra at Miami Heat training camp at FAU in Boca Raton. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Riley is intrigued by this All-Star-less team that brings back 11 players from last year’s season-ending roster. A roster that posted a 30-11 record over the second half of the season, but finished one game short of making the playoffs.

“I love our guys,” Riley said. “I wouldn’t want to play against our guys. They are so competitive. Spo (Erik Spoelstra) does a great job. And it’s almost going to be impossible for us to have a superstar out of this group because how we play is a positionless game where it is equal opportunity and there is going to be different guys every night.

“Back in the day, a coach could take one player and make sure he got 20 shots a night, and then all of a sudden his name goes through the roof and he’s on the All-Star ballot and he’s making more money than he deserves and you are losing games. So only time will tell and I think this is going to be a real exciting year. But one thing we will bring to the table every single night is we will bring a highly conditioned team, a very disciplined team and a team that is going to get after it with some very talented players.”

In his preseason press conference last month, Riley said he believes the Heat are “one step away from being a very good team.” And he spoke about that comment in his interview with Sirius XM Radio.

“When it comes to, ‘one step away,’ where are we in the rebuilding process, we’re going to always chase the most talented players that we can that are superstars, that we feel have the ability to be a superstar, and to really carry a team when a team can’t carry itself,” Riley said, after pursuing Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward the past two summers. “So the whole stage of, you know, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is really true when you have a team like ours.

“We have a team of young stars. We have some veteran players who are stars. Will the internal growth of the team transcend having to have a Big Three and then that will take care of itself? And then out of that, I can assure you that players will rise up and become noted as stars or All-Stars or superstars.”

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