How to Fix the Miami Heat Right Now

How to Fix the Miami Heat Right Now
Photo by Alex Broadwell

Let's not beat around the bush: Unless something big changes, the Miami Heat won't be playing basketball late into the NBA playoffs. As of right now, we aren't even sure the team will be in the NBA playoffs. Thankfully, the season is young, and there is still so much house cleaning and rearranging they can do to make the best versions of this squad. 

Here are a few ways the Miami Heat could improve the team now and set it up for success in the future.

Hassan Whiteside comes off the bench.
That's right: Hassan Whiteside and his double-doubles get exiled to the bench. Yesterday. ASAP. The biggest problem with the Miami Heat is that Goran Dragic is handcuffed by the team's style of play — and so much of the reason the Heat cannot placate him is because you can't play uptempo ball with a seven-footer clogging the paint. This isn't to say Whiteside isn't useless — he's extremely useful! Just give him his own minutes to play his style around a group that is catered to it. Whiteside does not deserve an Alonzo Mourning babysitter and a starting position just because. This is the Miami Heat. Players come here and get on their best behavior, not the other way around.

Whiteside plays 28 minutes a game, and it's not like anyone would be asking him to play less if he came off the bench. Not only would he be playing with a second unit that would better fit his style, but he would also be playing against weaker competition — which would tilt the board in the Heat's favor while other teams continue to play things the traditional way. 

Nobody knows if Hassan Whiteside is part of the Miami Heat's future, but we are more certain Goran Dragic is — and it's time to start acting like it. 

Start Justise Winslow.
If Whiteside is going out, someone has to go in — and that someone is Justise Winslow. What a perk it is to have this sort of player to plug into a lineup that wants to play faster but not lose its edge on defense. Inserting Winslow would be another move toward the Miami Heat's future but would also contribute to the team's now. A lineup of Wade-Dragic-Bosh-Deng-Winslow is fully capable of running small ball but has enough on defense to keep the other team in check. 

What you lose in the middle, you gain with Winslow guarding the other team's best player from the beginning. You also throw the kid into the game and let him be that much more prepared to take over for Luol Deng when he inevitably leaves next season. Winslow has not yet developed a consistent three-point shot, but it's certainly workable. 

Sign Dorell Wright. 
There's nothing earth-shattering about signing Dorell Wright, but he's another piece that could contribute for a year or two to the small-ball movement the Heat should undertake. Wright would just be replacing Stokes at the end of the Heat bench, but he would provide a much-needed veteran guard the team has been lacking. Since the Heat traded Mario Chalmers, Miami has lacked anything resembling a combo-guard off the bench capable of hitting a few shots. Every team has one. The Heat has Gerald Green, and that's about it. 

Wright is a career 36 percent three-point shooter, which is nothing amazing but certainly something the Heat could use in a pinch. His addition would also be a nice story for the team that drafted him in 2004 when he was even younger than Justise Winslow. Wright is balling for the Beikong Fly Dragons in China, but he's still close with Dwyane Wade and would presumably welcome a move back to Miami. He could fill the sort of James Jones roll the team desperately lacks at times. 

When Josh McRoberts comes back, let him do him.
There seems to be a theme when it comes to this season's Miami Heat: Make guys do things they don't want to do, in the worst spots possible. Josh McRoberts has seemed to look that way the few times he's been on the floor. McRoberts would be a perfect fit for a new bench lineup that featured Whiteside as the focal point, especially because he seems less than interested in shooting since he's joined the team. Let him be a big that can pass around a traditional center on the second unit — his interchangeable styles would be a huge bonus for a team looking to fit some pieces around a big. 

End the Tyler Johnson point-guard experiment and let him do what he does best.
Sometimes it feels like the Heat made Tyler Johnson a point guard because he looks like a point guard — but it's just not his best style of ball. Johnson is best suited playing off the ball — cutting-slashing-dunking and rising off picks and screens, not taking the ball up the court and standing in one spot, hoping to get it back. Johnson plays better with a head of steam, and the Heat needs to let him thrive on a second unit that would now feature a prototypical big man, a stretch four, a traditional point guard, and another playmaker in Gerald Green.

It all starts with the decision to move Hassan Whiteside to the bench, and then the rest falls into place. Allow players to do what they do best best, and stop making things so difficult because you feel like you need to give Whiteside the entire show after barely an entire season in Miami. Tough strategic decisions are what make this sport fantastic, and it's time the Heat realized teams are excelling with a blueprint they created in 2011 but no longer choose to use. 


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