LeBron James returned home, Dwyane Wade left his adopted city, and Chris Bosh found himself effectively barred from the team he thought had become his. So ends the Big Three era in Miami—one of the glitziest intersections of talent in NBA history. Only one player from the Heat's two title teams is likely to play for them this season: deep reserve Udonis Haslem.
Everything in the league changes; almost everyone moves on. Bosh's departure, though, is particularly sad and cruel. Because of blood clots that have put the remainder of his career in serious jeopardy, Miami effectively cut ties with the 11-time All-Star big man. (He believes he can still play and says he intends to.) That this came so soon after Wade's surprising exit for Chicago has thrust the Heat into a sudden transition. Their fate now precariously lies with Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow—none of whom is a particularly convincing franchise player.
Of that trio, the 27-year-old Whiteside is the most capable—and the most unpredictable. Relying on such a player is dangerous given how the roster has been stripped down—not only of its talent, but also its leadership and experience.
PROJECTED LINEUP | 2015--16 stats
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA (9th season with Heat)
2015--16 RECORD 48--34 (1st in Southeast)
PG GORAN DRAGIC
14.1 PPG; 5.8 APG; 3.8 RPG; 47.7 FG%
SG JOSH RICHARDSON
6.6 PPG; 1.4 APG; 45.2 FG%; 46.1 3FG%
SF JUSTISE WINSLOW
6.4 PPG; 5.2 RPG; 1.5 APG; 42.2 FG%
PF DERRICK WILLIAMS*
9.3 PPG; 3.7 RPG; 45.0 FG%; 29.3 3FG%
C HASSAN WHITESIDE
14.2 PPG; 11.8 RPG; 3.7 BPG; 60.6 FG%
SG DION WAITERS*
9.8 PPG; 2.0 APG; 39.9 FG%; 35.8 3FG%
SG TYLER JOHNSON
8.7 PPG; 2.2 APG; 48.6 FG%; 38.0 3FG%
SF LUKE BABBITT*
7.0 PPG; 3.1 RPG; 42.2 FG%; 40.4 3FG%
TELLING NUMBER 1
A rival scout sizes up Miami
They got hit pretty hard with [the loss of] Chris Bosh [to blood clots] and Dwyane Wade [to the Bulls]. They do have, I think, one of the best coaches in Erik Spoelstra. He'll keep them focused and playing really good defense. But can they score enough? I don't think so.... Their two primary options are Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Talentwise, Dragic is as good as there is in the division. He's got great size, he can shoot from the outside, he can take it to the rim. He's got to have a breakout season for them to even be competitive.... A big part of Whiteside's success has come from his attitude. He was looking for a contract. He got it and did all the right things. He's pretty good with his back to the basket, and he's just gonna keep getting better offensively.... I'm not real high on Justise Winslow. His only strength is taking it to the basket, and then transition. He's not a good shooter at all. He lacks confidence, he lacks technique, he lacks a lot of things.... Their roster is so thin. Udonis Haslem is more of a cheerleader now. Derrick Williams—ehhh, I don't really care. Josh McRoberts can spread the floor, make threes and he's a smart player. But he's a backup who'll be pushed into Bosh's role.... Unless they can run and get a lot of possessions, they won't score very much. Dion Waiters can score. I think he's just too inconsistent.... Josh Richardson was a great pickup. He can play the one or the two, he's got size [6'6"], he's athletic. He and Tyler Johnson are two-way players. Both will be on the floor for them a lot.
Their first post-LeBron team won 37 games—a total the post-Wade-and-Bosh squad would welcome.