Will the Miami Heat still be a threat in the Eastern Conference?
While news of LeBron James leaving South Beach certainly put a damper on things, the Miami Heat were able to somewhat salvage their team moving into the future. Assuming Dwyane Wade resigns, the Heat still have a solid core of Chris Bosh, the aforementioned Wade, Luol Deng and Danny Granger. In the wide-open Eastern Conference, the Heat might actually be a sneaky bet to make it back to the NBA Finals for a fifth consecutive time.
Although the Eastern Conference is perceived to be weak, they’re teams that appear poised to take the next step in their progression. The Pacers, Wizards, Bulls, and now, the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be pegged to finish higher than the “broken up” Heat squad. However, if you take a closer look at this Heat squad, you may be surprised to see that there is still a lot of talent on this team.
The Heat aren’t done building their team for next season. Additions such as Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger and rookie Shabazz Napier should help a supporting cast that struggled late last season. Heat president Pat Riley has already began negotiations to allow Udonis Haslem to come back as well. Chris “Birdman” Anderson could be back in the fold yet again too. Of course, none of these names will make you forget King James, but the loss of James actually will be beneficial for Chris Bosh. It’s easy to forget how efficient Bosh was while with the Toronto Raptors, but he’ll now get a chance to show off his entire skill-set being the Heat’s presumable number one guy.
In closing, you can bet that Dwyane Wade will be on a mission to prove that he is still among the game’s best players. Even in a “down year” last season, Wade still managed to still shoot a career-best 54.5 percent from the field in 54 games. Wade will never be the explosive scorer and talent he once was, but there is no reason not to think he can still drop 20/5/5 if healthy on most nights. If you get that from Wade and an increase from Bosh while adding Luol Deng’s production as third fiddle, the Heat could absolutely still compete in the Eastern Conference. In addition, the Heat play excellent defense and shouldn’t see a huge drop-off with Deng and Granger in the fold. This team is still championship tested and with the current cast of warriors that are still there, I wouldn’t count this team out just yet.