Since 2003, Wade was the Miami Heat. He led them to three championships (two with the “Big 3” and one with Shaquille O’Neal) and was the centerpiece of the organization. Like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki (probably) Wade was seen to be a “lifer” in Miami. He was supposed to live out his whole basketball career in the sunny Florida. That was until he left for the windy city this offseason.
Whether it was the Heat’s lack of “want to” when negotiating a new contract with Wade, or it was the massive contracts they gave Hassan Whiteside (4-years, $98 million), Wade just did not feel the respect he deserved and earned from the organization. Not to mention the 4-year, $50 million dollar deal they game to Johnson. So with Wade gone, this officially starts a new era for the Miami.
Whiteside has bounced around the NBA, D-League, and even overseas before finding his home in south beach. His height, along with freakishly long arms makes him the ultimate rim protector. This was all evident last season, as he recored three triple-doubles with 10 or more blocks. Whiteside does come with some maturity problems at times. It is still unknown how a raw talent like Whiteside managed to bounce around, but Pat Riley scooped him up and now may have found the next defensive great center.
Justice Winslow can be something special for the Heat, he’s already a great defender and a solid slasher. Justice has time to develop, but if he can consistently knock down that corner three, it changes how team’s will defend Miami. Last season he had the luxury of focusing on the defensive end of the floor and anything on the offensive end was considered a bonus, that’s no longer the case with the departure of Wade.
The year of the Dragic has arrived. Goran Dragic is a very capable starting point guard who can lead Miami back to the playoffs along with Whiteside and some help from the youngsters on the perimeter. Things change for him with Wade’s departure as well, the Heat can now play at Dragic’s desired pace as they couldn’t really run as much as he would have liked last season with Wade and Deng on the court.
Going forward it’s about Hassan and the youth, it’ll be interesting to see if Miami can make the playoffs this season. Below is an interview from Miami’s preseason win over the Washington Wizards.