Things have taken a turn for the worse for the Miami Heat this month, and it doesn't appear they are trending toward getting better anytime soon. The Heat's loss to the Clippers Wednesday was Miami's third straight, dropping the team to 22-17 — good for sixth in the weak Eastern Conference. Injuries are mounting, the schedule is getting tougher, and the team seems to be cracking at its seams as the tension of a long NBA season mounts.
So what happened to a team that was first in the East not too long ago? Is this team fatally flawed, not that good, or simply hitting a rough patch?
What went wrong: Josh McRobert's lower torso is made of Chex Mix.
Josh McRoberts is a useful player off the Heat bench — when he exists. Last season, McBob played 17 of 82 games; this year he's played 20 of the team's 39. When the Heat gave McRoberts a four-year deal worth an estimated $23 million — the full midlevel exception — this was not what the team signed up for. On top of all the injuries McBob has encountered during his tenure in Miami, he's for some reason decided he despises shooting when he is on the floor.
How to fix it: HGH, maybe? McRoberts is like an alternate jersey. He appears a few times a year for three weeks; then you forget he ever existed.
What went wrong:
Coming into this season, one thing Heat fans thought they could look forward to was a much deeper team than the one in 2014-15. But that hasn't been the case. The Heat bench is extremely top-heavy. After Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, and Gerald Green, you're hard-pressed to find a Heat bench player you feel good about seeing on the court.
How to fix it: Change the rules of the NBA so that everyone has to play like it's 1995.
What went wrong: The Miami Heat cannot shoot threes.
Only four teams make
How to fix it: Hassan Whiteside suddenly develops a postgame, thus creating more space and better looks. Then trade for Steph Curry.
What went wrong: Hassan Whiteside is still wasting potential.
Hassan Whiteside has been fine this season, just fine. It seems odd to say that about a player who is averaging a double-double (12.1 PPG, 11.1 REB) and nearly four blocks (3.8) per game, but it's pretty obvious when watching Whiteside play that he's out to get his first and help the team win
In addition to his personality and money-related-free-agency issues, his game just hasn't evolved to the point where you can trust him. Whiteside has no postgame to speak of, and you probably go to Chipotle more times a month than he records an assist.
How to fix it: Lay off the Alonzo Mourning babysitting service and get more public about his issues: It'll drive down his price later.
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What went wrong: Goran Dragic is stuck in neutral.
Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat have the feel of an arranged marriage. Both partners are trying to make it work, but deep down the fit just isn't there. Dragic wanted out of Phoenix last season, and the Heat was happy to pay the price of two first-round picks to save him. This past offseason, the Heat signed Dragic to a five-year deal for around $86 million, furthering Miami's investment. The results on that investment have been less than stellar. Dragic is a nightly square peg in the Heat's round-hole of an offense, and something will soon have to change. Whiteside moving on might be that something, or Dragic himself being traded could be the best solution. One thing is clear — this isn't working.
Dragic will be 30 years old next season, so it's not as if the Heat has years to build a team around him that best suits his style of play. Miami have a pretty big decision to make about its highly paid point guard.
How to fix it: Subtract Whiteside, add shooters, and change to an uptempo style of offense.