Mailbag: Are the Heat hurting themselves by winning?



Goran Dragic (l) and Okaro White (r) celebrate Dion Watiers' game-winner Monday against Golden State that gave Miami its fourth straight win. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Goran Dragic (l) and Okaro White (r) celebrate Dion Waiters’ game-winner Monday against Golden State that gave Miami its fourth straight win. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

NEW YORK – The Heat are on a roll, or at least as much of a roll as they have been in a season where wins have been hard to come by.

Miami (15-30) enters Wednesday’s game at Brooklyn, which has a league-worst 9-35 record, having won a season-high four in a row. And with a forgiving schedule coming up, Miami could start to climb in the standings.

But some fans are not happy with that, which leads to one of our questions in this week’s mailbag.

Anthony from Wellington: How much does it hurt the Heat that they have started to win?

The age old question, should a team that is rebuilding purposely lose games (don’t call it tanking around the Heat) to enhance their chances of getting a higher draft pick? But we have seen the last week that the Heat have no interest in tanking and will continue to play hard, which has resulted in a winning streak that has included impressive victories over two of the league’s best teams, Houston and Golden State.

I’ve always believed winning games develops good habits and finding subtle ways to lose games sends the wrong message. So, no, I do not believe anything bad can come from winning. Will it mean the Heat will not pick as high in the draft if they finish with the fifth or sixth or seventh worst record in the league rather than the second? Most likely, yes, although every lottery team has a chance to move in to the top three. Miami entered Tuesday tied for the second worst record on the league but six teams are clustered with 15 or 16 wins. So stretch this winning streak by a couple more games or make it seven or eight wins out of 10, and suddenly the Heat are looking at six teams below them in the standings.

But the draft is a crapshoot and we’ve seen plenty of examples where a player taken 5 to 10 will have a better careers then a player taken in the first five picks, it happens every year. How the Heat fare in the draft, whether they pick No. 2 or No. 7, will depend on how well they have scouted and vetted every prospect. Losing guarantees nothing which is why the only option is to win as many games as possible.

@ChrisHypeTrain: Do you think Pat Riley will see this rebuild all the way through?

We know one thing, the Miami Heat’s 71-year-old president is going to try. Riley has acknowledged he has started to think about retirement and the best guess is he has three or four years tops remaining. And it is for that reason he promised this will be a quick rebuild, saying during the season, “I’m not going to hang around here for three or four years selling this kind of song to people in Miami.” But that means the Heat must hit on their draft pick, no matter where it is in the lottery, and then add a significant player or two through free agency or a blockbuster trade.

Riley has worked magic during his 22 years in Miami, rebuilding several times and turning two of those into NBA titles. Now, he is looking to develop core players, including $98-million center Hassan Whiteside, and add to that group during the summer. The problem is we do not know how much injuries to Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and now Tyler Johnson will stunt the growth of those three young players who the Heat view as integral parts to their future. But even so, the speed at which the Heat rebuild will depend more on the draft and free agency.

[Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson not with Heat for two-game trip]

[Monday was wild, but Heat’s 1996 upset of 72-10 Bulls was even crazier]

[Three encouraging takeaways from the Miami Heat’s perfect 4-0 homestand]




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