Whomever you pray to or worship, thank it/he/she/they for the many blessings that have arrived today: The Miami Heat is officially back in our lives.
The team's season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies begins at 7:30 tonight. It's a wonderful day and a breath of fresh air to take our minds off the fact that the rest of the Miami sports scene is a landfill fire.
Happy Miami Heat Day, everyone! Celebrate and enjoy it. You've earned some happiness.
With the Heat back in action, we're feeling like turning our swagger up to ten, putting on our cocky Heat-fan pants, and making some bold predictions about the 98 games the team will play this season.
5. Tyler Herro will have a better rookie season than New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson. Hot out of the gate, Tyler Herro will outperform the best college player since LeBron — Zion Williamson — this season. It's the hottest takes that make you feel alive! This prediction is based on two things: Herro will play more games/minutes than Williamson, and Herro will be less of a defensive priority for the opposing teams.
Williamson missed much of the NBA Summer League due to injury, and he's already been ruled out for "several weeks" while he recovers from a knee injury. Herro, in contrast, was the talk of the NBA this preseason and has shown he is not one bit afraid of competition, even at 19 years old. Williamson is the better player, sure, but if he plays half a season of basketball to Herro's full season, Herro will have had a stronger season.
Herro will have a better year than Williamson in 2019. Bookmark it.
4. Dion Waiters will leave the Heat before you open your Christmas presents. The Miami Heat/Dion Waiters marriage was always a terrible idea. On one side, you have a franchise that prides itself on hard work and doing things the right way, and on the other, you have a player who has a reputation of doing pretty much the exact opposite. The Heat, for whatever reason, thought Waiters would change his spots after the team gave him a Brinks truck full of cash. Shockingly, the opposite has happened.
Waiters got hurt, got fat, missed seasons' worth of games, and is now back on a totally different Heat team acting like he owns the joint and should start just because he did the Keto diet in the offseason. The Heat's answer to that demand was to suspend him for the first game of the season and, probably, tell him there is more where that came from if he wants to keep it up.
Waiters will be playing for the Detroit Pistons or another desperate team in a few months. It'll probably cost the Heat a second-round pick or taking back a bad contract to make it happen. It will be a fantastic trade no matter what happens.
3. Jimmy Butler will average the most points of his career in his first season with the Heat. Jimmy Butler is the man in Miami. He's been the man before, but never like this. The ball will be his, and what he chooses to do with it will be his prerogative. He's the new LeBron in Miami. He'll score a lot if he so chooses.
Butler averaged 23.9 points per game for Chicago in 2016. In 2019, he will have every chance to best that number. The Heat will need Butler to be a Top 10 player in the NBA if the team is going to shock anyone and go deep in the playoffs. He needs to put up MVP-level numbers if the Heat is going to the NBA Finals.
We think a solid 24-point-, six-rebound-, five-assist-per-game line isn't out of the question for the Heat's newest star. In fact, we predict it.
2. Bam Adebayo will be Miami's best player not named Jimmy Butler. For four seasons, everyone has been waiting for Justise Winslow to make the next step. This season, with the keys to the starting point-guard slot in hand, could be the year he puts it all together for an entire season. However, Bam Adebayo, Miami's new 22-year-old starting center, will be the Heat's best player who isn't Jimmy Butler. If Winslow can be good, Adebayo can be fantastic.
Hassan Whiteside, the former roadblock to more playing time and stats, is gone. Adebayo is ready to break out in a league where a point-center player such as himself is not common. If he develops any sort of midrange shot this year, watch out.
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1. The Miami Heat will win 55 games, making the Eastern Conference Finals. Yes, the Heat will be one of the final four teams remaining in the NBA playoffs. Miami will win 55 games, finish as a Top 3 seed in the East, and grind it out in the playoffs until there's one last team standing between the Heat and another trip to the finals.
These aren't extremely warm takes — these are bold, ghost-pepper-hot takes. We're going big or going home. There's no reason a team with the Heat's talent pool shouldn't at least come close to reaching the aforementioned goals. Goran Dragic — an All-Star-caliber point guard — is coming off the bench. Miami has a Top 20 NBA player. Miami has a 19-year-old sniper and possible Rookie of the Year. Miami has Adebayo and Winslow coming into their breakout seasons.
As Erik Spoelstra would always say, the Heat has "enough." We believe in this team. It feels right. Let's watch it all play out, beginning tonight.