The Miami Heat has played 56 of its 82 regular-season games, but for some reason, the NBA All-Star break this weekend still feels like the midpoint of the season. Maybe that's because Heat fans are so used to playoff basketball stretching into May and June.
Whatever the reason, the Heat is far enough into its season that the trends are not a fluke — they're legit. It's a perfect time to hand out some midseason awards. Sorry, Heat, we don't have
Without further ado, here are your official (unofficial) Miami Heat Midseason Awards!
Most Valuable Player: Goran Dragic
The Heat was just a putrid basketball team for 41 games. Over the past 15, the Heat has been a fantastic basketball team. Throughout both of those streaks, one thing has been consistent: Goran Dragic has played tremendous basketball and been the unquestioned team leader. His points-per-game numbers have crept above 20 to go along with his six-plus assists and four rebounds, but those numbers are truly only a piece of the story. Dragic has led by example, and the rest of the team has taken notice. His leadership has been the most valuable asset the Heat has had this season.
Newcomer of the Year: James Johnson
James Johnson's numbers don't jump out at you (he's averaging a 12-5-3 stat line), but for anyone paying attention, Johnson has been the best and most consistent newcomer for the Heat. Somehow, he is on his fifth team, but it certainly seems like he has found himself a home in Miami. Known for his defense, Johnson is now routinely scoring 20-plus points off the bench, while locking down other teams' top scorers. Much of the Heat's 13-game winning streak had to do with Johnson's miraculous play.
Most Improved Player: Rodney McGruder
It might not show up on the stat sheet, but Rodney McGruder has been a crucial part of the team's most recent success. His style of play screams Miami Heat. His demeanor is workmanlike, and his ability to do the little things that require constant hustle and being in the right place at the right time have not gone unnoticed. Not every player on a roster needs to be a breakout star. Many championship teams have grit-and-grind guys like McGruder who make up their heart and soul. The Heat found another good one in the D-League.
Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra
Quick reminder: Erik Spoelstra is the best coach in the NBA. That is all.
(Runnerup: Chris Quinn. No real reason.)
Most Fun Player to Watch: Dion Waiters
If Mario Chalmers is the iPhone 3, Dion Waiters is the iPhone 5S — a big upgrade — but let's not get all carried away. Waiters bet on himself when he came to Miami for ten cents on the dollar he thought he would get in free agency, and it has paid off big-league. The Heat has been the beneficiary of his terrific
Bummer of the Year: Justice Winslow
Talk about a lost year. Heading into 2017, Heat fans had hoped Winslow would be able to take the next step toward stardom, but that definitely hasn't been the case. He battled injuries all season right up until he was shut down for the year. When he was on the court, he was atrocious, just barely cracking 40 percent from the field, including 25 percent from three-point range. Winslow was once an untouchable asset for the Heat, but not so much anymore. What a difference a year makes.
Rookie of the Year: Willie Reed
Reed might not be having the best statistical season, but he certainly is having the sort of season that should get him paid by someone this offseason. The center from St. Louis University has consistently brought the good shit off the bench. His energy is never an element anyone questions. It's always there, and he always brings it. On nights when Hassan Whiteside is out of it or in foul trouble, Reed has filled in admirably. He's been a fantastic addition to the Heat's bench, and someone the team should attempt to keep around for a long time.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.