For most of us, the next 12 months are about regaining a sense of normalcy. Last year wasn't exactly stable or usual, so if 2021 brings nothing else into our lives, a little bit of calm and familiarness would be welcome.
For Miami sports fans, usual and normal means setting unreasonable expectations and making bold predictions. It's sort of our thing!
In the spirit of the first week of 2021, here are ten of our boldest predictions for the upcoming sports year.
The Miami Dolphins will use two first-round picks on wide receivers. The Dolphins are a team almost completely set on defense — and an absolute mess on offense. You can bet that they'll change that this offseason. Tua Tagovailoa is practically begging for some weapons to throw to.
The most glaring need? Wide receivers. Plural. Many of them. Luckily, the Dolphins have two first-round picks to take care of that problem. Our guess? The Dolphins draft down from third overall in the draft, select a player like Louisiana State University's Ja'Marr Chase, then pick another wide receiver at #18. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Tua needs help.
The Heat will trade for James Harden. It only took about a week's worth of games to see the Miami Heat needs a jolt of energy. We've seen this sort of post-playoff hangover before. The Heat is set up to be a good team. It has a roster fans will grow to love. But it does not have a championship roster as of now. Those are the sad facts of the situation.
Team president Pat Riley is not a man who sits around settling. Our prediction? He trades in guaranteed good for possible greatness. Riley will land Houston Rockets heavyweight James Harden, if only because there aren't too many superstars left to be had this offseason.
Worst-case scenario is it blows up in his face and Riley retires anyway.
The Miami Marlins will be the second-best show in Miami. The Marlins enter 2021 as a fun team on the come-up, so saying they'll be good isn't that bold. Predicting the Marlins will enjoy a better season than either the Heat or Dolphins in 2021 is, though. And that's what we're doing here — hey, it's a bold predictions thing, OK?
The Marlins will be better than the Heat or the Dolphins. They might even finish 2021 as the best team in Miami. We're going out on a limb but not that far. This baseball team is full of potential stars.
Sixto Sanchez will become an All-Star. Sixto Sanchez, the Marlins' 22-year-old number-one prospect, will no longer be called a prospect after this season. Everyone will need to call him an All-Star because he'll represent the Marlins in the All-Star game if it's played this year.
As mentioned above, the Marlins will be a good team, and one of the main reasons that will be true is they'll have one of, if not the best, young fireball throwers in the entire sport on the mound every five days. Sixto Sanchez will become a thing this year. He will no longer be a secret.
The Dolphins will announce they're going to their throwback uniforms full-time. The worst-kept sports secret in Miami is that the Dolphins want to change looks and revert to their throwback threads full-time, but they can't because, well, rules and money. The NFL doesn't want to be sitting on uniforms that aren't the newest look, so they make teams wait five years after tinkering with their uniforms or logos before they can do it again.
The Dolphins' clock on that is just about up. You can tell because they're wearing the throwbacks more frequently. In 2021, it will be announced that the above look is the permanent look.
The Florida Panthers will be just average again. In 2021, the Florida Panthers will just be a thing you passingly hear about once again. Nothing of note. No reason to drive from Miami Lakes to Sunrise. No reason to care about hockey. Just another season of the Florida Panthers.
Inter Miami will land a star player. Inter Miami and team owner David Beckham have about 45 more minutes to make soccer work in Miami. The first two seasons of playing home games in Broward have been a disaster. The team hasn't been a draw for fans, and even if they wanted to watch a game, they couldn't because of COVID. Beckham has to do something, and fast, to draw attention to his team in what is known as an "event town."
Signing an international star — something Beckham has flirted with since bringing a team to Miami — is the way. We don't know who that might be (Luis Suarez or James Rodriguez?), but it has to happen. Inter needs to make a splash, and it has to happen in 2021 unless the team is ready to lose a lot of money.
Manny Diaz will get fired. University of Miami quarterback D'Eriq King hurt his knee and will be lucky to start next season at full strength. The Hurricanes will lose the best five players from their defense. And it's to be determined if superstar tight end Brevin Jordan returns. Oh, and Miami plays Alabama in the season opener.
None of that is good for Coach Manny Diaz. If Miami has a down year and ends up a .500 team, you have to believe the school starts looking at other coaches who can actually bring Miami back.
Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be a Miami Dolphin in 2021. The Dolphins do not need a quarterback controversy headache. Unfortunately, they created one for themselves by shuttling Tua Tagovailoa in and out of games all season in 2020. They did so because they had the option to plug in veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Next season, they won't have that alternative.
Fitzpatrick isn't under contract for next season, and it seems unconscionable that the Dolphins would do what they did this season all over again in 2021. It's time for them to move on from a player who is older than many coaches and let Tua sink or swim while using Fitzpatrick's back-up spot for another young quarterback.
Erik Spoelstra will end the year as more than just a coach. The NBA season concludes in June and restarts in October, meaning by the time this year ends, we'll have two NBA seasons to talk about. This offseason is a huge one for Pat Riley and the Miami Heat. It's one they've been planning for some time. Once it's over, relief will set in because the plan will be set on auto-pilot.
That will also mean Pat Riley can step back even farther from his role with the team, and Coach Erik Spoelstra can step closer to the role he'll likely have one day: team president. This year seems like as good a time as any for that transition to begin.