Believe it or not, every major team in South Florida has set itself up for near-future success. All four have a clear path to contention for a championship — not this season, but soon enough. A solid blueprint for each team is present and available for all to see.
Here's why we're so excited about the future of each South Florida sports team. Get all of your jokes and negativity in now, because soon enough, there will be winning again in Miami.
4. Miami Dolphins. What we're most excited about: Boatloads of picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Once again, the Dolphins are starting over from scratch this season. This time, though, it feels right. New coach Brian Flores has already made a good impression in his first few months, and the team seems refreshed heading into a season where expectations are low but competition will be high.
The Dolphins have a lot going for them, but at the top of the list are young stars and a boatload of draft picks on the way. That's how you get good in the NFL — and fast. From new first-round pick Christine Wilkins to last year's first-rounder Minkah Fitzpatrick to one of the best tackles in football, Laremy Tunsil, to arguably the best cornerback in the league, Xavien Howard, the Dolphins have elite building-block pieces, possibly better than they've had in more than a decade. We won't even discuss Josh Rosen here. No one is sure what he is, but having a 2018 high first-round quarterback in the fold isn't a bad thing.
More help is on the way, though. More youth talent will be added to what the Dolphins already have this time next season, thanks to the fact that the team owns an additional pick in every round of next April's draft after the first. That means ammo to move up for a star, or multiple lottery tickets in their quest to solidify a roster 1-to-53.
3. Miami Heat. What we're most excited about: Jimmy Butler and the kids.
The Miami Heat is not allergic to going for it. There's not a lot of patience in the team's dojo. Every season is meant to end with a championship; otherwise, it was a failure. That's not really in the cards for the Heat this season, but it could be in the very near future if things break the team's way.
The addition of Jimmy Butler for the price of Josh Richardson was huge. The Heat kept Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and new first-round human bucket Tyler Herro in the fold. Butler will now put on his recruiting hat and try to lure a player — possibly Washington guard Bradley Beal — to Miami. This season, Butler will run with Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, and James Johnson. That might not be a contending team, but it sure sounds interesting.
Add to the mix players such as Derrick Jones Jr., Duncan Robinson, second-round pick KZ Okpala, and next year's first-round selection, and the Heat has plenty of reasons to like the youthful end of its roster that will soon be paired with the higher-salaried stars the team looks to add to Butler.
2. Florida Panthers. What we're most excited about: New coach Joel Quenneville's majestic mustache (and coaching).
Let's be honest — we could write almost anything here and most of you would buy it. In fact, the majority of you just learned the Panthers' new coach's name in the sentences above. That's cool. We get it. It's hockey in South Florida, and the Panthers have done little since the mid-'90s to make you give a damn.
All of that seems about to change. The Panthers had quite an offseason.
First, the Panthers hired Joel Quenneville, he of Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup kickassery fame. His mustache alone is enough reason to be excited about next season. Then the team signed an elite goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and one of the top free agents available. The Panthers followed that up by adding defenseman Anton Stralman and forwards Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari, all strong additions to the team.
Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, and Jonathan Huberdeau alone are a reason to love what the Panthers are doing. This offseason, they added to that core, plus some. Soon enough, the team will be giving Miami a reason to care about hockey.
1. Miami Marlins. What we're most excited about: The Marlins had a plan, and it's already working.
Happy 21st birthday, Sixto Sánchez!— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 29, 2019
Marlins No. 1 prospect is giving *all of us* a great gift by pitching again for Jacksonville tonight pic.twitter.com/QSel0oCN4X
People doubted the Marlins' plan. They saw the team trading away Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcel Ozuna for names they didn't know and international money they had no idea about. The Marlins were going to lose games as usual, and people were pissed off the losses would be 100 percent free of useless solo home runs by their favorite player who hates being here.
But the Fish are already turning around this ship. They're making the Titanic float again. The Marlins farm system — once almost dead-last in all of baseball — was just ranked tenth by Baseball America. It's all happening, and it's been less than two seasons since Derek Jeter and his boys took the keys from Jeffrey Loria's cold, dead, greedy hands.
If you look at the Marlins' record alone, you might think it's crazy to be excited about the team. True fans can see what's brewing in the minors and internationally, and what the team has already begun assembling in the big leagues. The Marlins just might have the brightest future in South Florida.