The Heat will pay Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk $35.3 million this season, which means they're betting big on consistent success from a historically inconsistent trio. And each is locked up through at least 2020.
Waiters and Johnson joined Miami last summer and put up career-best numbers. The 25-year-old Waiters played in only 46 games and is hardly as gifted a shooter as his gunning would suggest. (He connected on less than 32% from deep in two of his first four seasons before last year, when he buried 39.5%.) Johnson is a versatile forward, but he'll turn 31 in February, and last year was the first time he averaged double figures. Olynyk, 26, often frustrated Boston fans with his up-and-down play, and despite some playoff heroics, the Celtics let him go to make room for Gordon Hayward.
After a horrible, injury-plagued start, Miami went 30--11 in the second half of last season, thanks largely to the shooting of Waiters and Johnson. If Erik Spoelstra and his staff can continue to get the best out of them—and Olynyk—the Heat will have invested wisely. If not, Miami will be paying a heavy price for three years of mediocrity.
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA
(10th season with Heat)
2016--17 RECORD 41--41
(3rd in Southeast)
43 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PG GORAN DRAGIĆ
20.3 PPG; 5.8 APG; 47.5 FG%; 40.5 3FG%
SG DION WAITERS
15.8 PPG; 4.3 APG; 42.4 FG%; 39.5 3FG%
SF JUSTISE WINSLOW
10.9 PPG; 5.2 RPG; 3.7 APG; 35.6 FG%
91 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
PF JAMES JOHNSON
12.8 PPG; 4.9 RPG; 47.9 FG%; 34.0 3FG%
34 [THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING]
C HASSAN WHITESIDE
17.0 PPG; 14.1 RPG; 2.1 BPG; 55.7 FG%
SG JOSH RICHARDSON
10.2 PPG; 2.6 APG; 39.4 FG%; 33.0 3FG%
SF RODNEY MCGRUDER
6.4 PPG; 3.3 RPG; 41.3 FG%; 33.2 3FG%
PF KELLY OLYNYK [NEW ACQUISITION]
9.0 PPG; 4.8 RPG; 2.0 APG; 51.2 FG%
• THE CROSSOVER TOP 100 RANKING
A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP MIAMI
I never knew GORAN DRAGIĆ was so good until his play last season and this summer at Eurobasket. He checks the box at point guard. If he can continue to shoot this well, I really like him.... I know there's a cost [on offense] associated with relying on HASSAN WHITESIDE, but there are so many teams out there that would just die for a guy who can protect the rim like that, an effortless athlete who just flows. So much of the game comes from natural ability. From that standpoint, there are few guys out there like Whiteside.... JUSTISE WINSLOW is another guy who understands the critical importance of defense. He'll defend twos and threes and some fours, but what are you going to do with him on the offensive end? ... Whether he's starting or coming off the bench, DION WAITERS is coming to score. I don't know if you can get him to defend, but his points per minute will be among the tops in the league.... KELLY OLYNYK is enough of a low-maintenance guy to make sense here. The ability to fit in without standing out is almost a skill unto itself.... JOSH RICHARDSON and TYLER JOHNSON don't have elite athleticism, but they play hard, defend and hit shots. With Waiters in the lineup there's not necessarily room for either to be a bigger scorer, but you value these overachievers because they fit in so well.... If JAMES JOHNSON is able to duplicate what he did last year, that would be big for Miami. But for a player to continue to climb this deep into his career is rare.... You have to consider Miami's season last year as evidence of really good coaching.
TELLING 35.3m STATISTIC
They won't replicate their scorching play from the end of last year, but they'll be solid enough to get back to the playoffs.