By: Nick Divago
The Big 3 era is finally over, even is Chris Bosh is still technically a member of the Heat. The question is “What now?” for Pat Riley’s franchise. It looks like a rebuilding year for the Heat which would be the smart move. Play young guys, see who’s good,and get the best possible odds for a high pick.
D. Wade, C. Bosh
The Heat are tanking this year, whatever Pat Riley says. What does that mean for fantasy? Lots of minutes for young and mediocre players. The most likely winner here is Justise Winslow. He should get all of the minutes and touches he can handle, including some time at power forward. Winslow wasn’t great as a rookie, but he showed NBA strength and athleticism, grabbing over five rebounds per game in under thirty minutes. Young, athletic wings can improve quickly in today’s NBA, especially when given a big workload (think Jimmy Butler). Winslow is obviously a lottery ticket: he would need to improve all of his counting stats without field goal percentage and turnovers taking a big hit, but you won’t have to spend a high pick on him.
Josh Richardson, Miami’s other rookie, was a borderline streamer at the end of last season if you needed threes. His outlook this season is cloudy, however. He partially tore his MCL during an offseason workout and will miss all of training camp and likely a few early games. Once he gets back he will compete with Ellington and Waiters for the starting shooting guard spot. That weak competition means Richardson will at least get minutes, but I think the loss of Bosh and Wade will hurt him. Wade generated a lot of open looks for Richardson, and I am not convinced Richardson can thrive without other players who attract a lot of defensive attention. Goran Dragic will do some of that, but not enough. Neither Winslow nor Hassan Whiteside has shown that they can create for their teammates. I think Winslow will get there eventually, but not this year.
Dragic will probably see an increase in usage. Historically, Dragic has turned his opportunities into points, rather than assists. I expect him to do that again this year, although at thirty, I do not think he will get back to the 20 points per game he averaged in 2013-2014 with Phoenix. 17 seems more likely, but that would be a nice uptick from last season’s fourteen per game. But remember, the Heat are throwing this season (they have their pick), so he might also get traded (or “injured”), which adds some risk. Another veteran to watch, but not draft, is Josh McRoberts. McBob has been terrible/injured his entire time in Miami, but he is a skilled passer and shooter. If he can play, he will play, unless you think Derrick Williams is about to make that second overall pick look smart.
Whiteside is obviously the best Miami player to own, and he is getting drafted early in the second round because of it. It will be interesting to see how the losses of Wade and Bosh will affect him. Last season he averaged 14 points and 12 boards while shooting 60 percent from the floor and blocking 3.7 shots per game, and unlike other boards/blocks/FG% guys, he might not kill your free throw percentage (65% last season, but only 50% the year before). He played less than 30 minutes per game. I expect him to push 17 points per game this season, with similar or slightly better rebounding numbers. That will come at a cost, however. His field goal percentage will likely fall into the mid-fifties, consistent with a higher-usage big, and he may turn the ball over a lot more. Whiteside will remain an elite shot blocker, but he probably cannot sustain more than 3.5 per game. At some point, players will just stop challenging him. To me, his value doesn’t change much from last year, mainly because rising turnovers and regression to the mean in blocks will offset gains from points and rebounds. I know, upside, but I would rather buy cheaper lottery tickets.