Five Questions to Determine Whether the Heat Are Title Contenders This Season

Bam Adebayo shoots during Game Two of the first-round playoff series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat at Fiserv Forum on May 24, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Bam Adebayo shoots during Game Two of the first-round playoff series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat at Fiserv Forum on May 24, 2021, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images
What comes around, goes around. The last time we saw the Miami Heat on the hardwood for a game that counted, they were getting swept out of the NBA Playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, the team that went on to win the NBA championship last season.

Now the Heat kicks off its 34th regular season tonight, when the team hosts the Bucks tonight at 8 p.m. at FTX Arena.

What has changed between then and now? What's new? What's old? What should Heat fans look for heading into one of the most important seasons ever for the team?

Let's take a look at five of the biggest questions for the Miami Heat as they embark on the 2021-2022 NBA campaign.

How Does Kyle Lowry Change the Heat?

The most obvious storyline heading into the season opener against the Bucks is: How does Kyle Lowry change the team Heat fans saw last season? Not just in terms of wins and losses, but in terms of style of play.

When Jimmy Butler addressed that question, he called the new style "Kyle chaos," and drove home the point that Miami will look different this year with their new point guard. How quickly they adapt to Lowry's fast-paced style will say a lot about their eventual playoff seeding.

Is Tyler Herro an Up-and-Coming Star?

Perhaps the biggest factor that will determine if the Heat are a title contender or just another playoff team is how much improvement Tyler Herro shows in his third year. From the looks of his preseason performance, the Heat may have a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Herro, an asset every title contender must possess.

It's clear Herro needed some time off to recover from the longest 12 months in NBA history. He's come back looking fresh, bigger, and more confident. If Herro ascends to stardom, Miami is a true contender.

Is Bam Adebayo a Top Ten NBA Player?

Bam Adebayo is one of the best players in the NBA. That's not really up for debate. What will change who the Miami Heat are as a team, however, is just how far he can rise in the rankings of the greats.

Is Bam Adebayo in the discussion of MVP candidates, or is he just a good All-Star, as he has been so far in his career? The Heat needs it to be the former if they're to be a true title contender.

Can P.J. Tucker Play Alongside Bam in the Frontcourt?

For years, Miami has tried to find a power forward, or center, who pairs well with Bam Adebayo. Jae Crowder was a nice fit for a bit during the 2020 season, but he left in free agency and the Heat have struggled to replace him.

P.J. Tucker has arrived in Miami to stretch the court just as Crowder did, but also to take some of the rebounding pressure off Adebayo.

Was Duncan Robinson Worth the Money?

This offseason, Duncan Robinson got paid. Robinson agreed to a five-year, $90 million contract, making him one of the higher-paid specialists in the game. The question now must be asked: Did the Heat overpay for a player based on a couple of great seasons, or did the team snag itself a steal?

If Duncan becomes more than just a shooter and is capable on defense, the Heat have more than a discount on their hands, they have a weapon few other teams can match.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi