The Miami Heat are locked in for the playoffs this season but anything they accomplish in the postseason would be a surprise because no one expects them to do much but at best make the second round. No one expects
the Miami Heat to compete with the Cavaliers,Raptors, and Sixers who are the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference now that superstar guard Kyrie Irving will be out for the rest of the year for the Boston Celtics. Of course they do have Dwyane Wade back in the mix but at this stage in his career Wade is just around to play more of a mentor role and ride into the sunset of his illustrious NBA career right where he started it in Miami.
On to Justice Winslow who has combatted injuries for the better half of his career, he is 3 years in but has not really got the chance to be a featured player for the Miami Heat. We must not forget he is only 21 years old, some players take 3-4 years before we truly see what they will become so do not be so quick to judge Winslow and put him in the bust category. In Winslow I think we have a late bloomer and I remember Pat Riley making Winslow untouchable in trade talks and Wade saying he will be special, I certainly agree.
At 6’7 and weighing in at 225 pounds Justice Winslow has a soft touch around the basket and has a smooth stroke from the perimeter. He is also a lefty which is a plus and with his size and body mass you can use him as a point forward and play him anywhere as a wing. He can handle the ball and serve as a playmaker at the top of the key, or you could put him in the post and let him go to work on bigger forwards who he can have an advantage on due to his quickness off the dribble and ability to create his own shot and serve as a floor spacer. I like to compare him to a Lamar Odom-Kawhi Leonard hybrid since he possesses good instincts on the defensive end and had the potential to be a lock down defender and defend up to 4 positions on the floor.
Bam Adebayo is the other Heat corner-piece I would like to chime in on. He is a 6’10 255 big who you can slot in as a power forward or center. Adebayo was selected 14th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2018 NBA Draft and Pat Riley hit a grand slam with Bam. Coming out of Kentucky Bam was more of shot blocking big who served as a lob threat and played pretty much a limited role under John Calipari. I like to compare Bam to Anthony Davis in a way since Davis was not able to display all his talents under Calipari and just did what was asked of him by his coach. I am not saying Bam Adebayo will be on the level of an Anthony Davis but just look at the leap Davis has took from college to the NBA where he is now a top 5 player.
Adebayo has surreal athleticism and can jump out of the gym, on top of that he has improved his post game and has now become a perimeter threat to better round out his game. You can throw the ball to Bam on the low block and have him go iso on his defender, he can face up on his man and pull up for jumpshots or use his body mass and athleticism to overpower defenders in the post. He can finish with either hand and cut to the basket and serve as a pick and roll or pick and pop option. On top of that he is athletic enough to switch on to guards and cause severe mismatches, he is the prototypical big man if opposing teams decide to go small since he can switch on to any player no matter how many screens you throw at him.
The Miami Heat’s future is certainly terrifyingly bright, Adebayo and Winslow are the type of players you want to develop going into an NBA era where floor spacing and athleticism are in high demand. Slow footed big man are becoming extinct in the NBA and if you can not space the floor you might be either out of the NBA or coming off the bench as scorer or to occupy space in the paint. Not to throw dirt on Jahlil Okafor’s name who is a phenomenal offensive talent, but despite his talents on the offensive end he is slow footed and is subpar rebounding the ball and gets torched when teams go small since he has to come outside to the perimeter and pick up guards on switches when opposing offenses decide to call their bigs to come out and set picks.
I have not even mentioned Josh Richardson who is a 6’6 200 pound shooting guard who has become a lethal 3 point shooter and gifts on defense you can’t teach. He hawks the ball as if he is magnetic to it and will chase you off the ball and give you little room to operate with once you do get open off a pick. The Miami Heat have not been taken seriously since Lebron James and Chris Bosh came over to South Beach and made an unforgettable 4 year run with Dwyane Wade in which they won 2 titles over those 4 years but Pat Riley preached patience and it will pay off. Josh Richardson is 24, Justice Winslow is 21, and Bam Adebayo is 20 so the best is yet to come for the Miami Heat if they can keep those 3 together.
The situation with Hassan Whiteside has been troubling with him becoming unhappy with his minutes and there have been rumors he might be expendable with Bam Adebayo being able to step right in at center next season if needed. The Heat can slot Kelly Olynyk in at the 4 and if Bam Adebayo can keep developing his game over the summer the Miami Heat won’t lose a step going into next season. Add on Winslow’s development and Goran Dragic who has been sensational as a floor general for the Heat and done everything Spoelstra has asked of him and you have the makings of a team that could be a top 5 seed next season.
To conclude I really feel this Heat team could be something special. Bam Adebayo and Justice Winslow both can become stars next season, I really think they will be that good. Will they be superstars? Maybe that is a stretch but they certainly have all-star written all over them and maybe they could become superstars but that all depends on their goals for themselves. In the NBA not every team will be able to draft a Lebron James or Anthony Davis, so the plan should be to draft well and develop in hopes of grooming future all stars. Winslow and Adebayo have what it takes to take the Miami Heat to the next level and I have no doubt they won’t dissapoint us over the next 10-12 years.