Miami Heat

The Heat’s breakout player will be…

Tyler Herro, easy. Already back in Summer League it was hard to take your eyes off him as he dazzled with his almost effortless, and surprisingly multi-faceted, offensive game. Equally adept at swiftly nailing a 3-point dagger with swagger or shaking off a defender with a savvy move and finding an open teammate for an easy basket, Herro was mightily impressive. Sure, he’ll have to do this now against much tougher opponents and there will be growing pains here and there but I fully expect him to blossom under the tutelage of the Heat coaching staff and fellow hard-nosed teammates like Jimmy Butler.

It all goes wrong if…

Injuries mount up again as they have done with recent Heat teams, or veterans like James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Dion Waiters don’t bounce back from their current and past injuries. Olynyk remains sidelined after getting injured playing for Team Canada and Johnson was not able to participate in training camp because of conditioning/weight issues. Several players missed significant time last season, including Goran Dragic who only played in 36 games, and it remains to be seen if these veterans can prove to be more durable this season.

What we’ll be saying about the Heat at the end of the season…

Miami remains a work in progress but exceeded expectations by consistently out-working and out-hustling their opponents. Not only was the team able to return to the playoffs but made some noise with the addition of Jimmy Butler and a promising young nucleus that showed real progress and development throughout the season.

Final prediction

The Heat as constructed could defy expectations, one way or another, and the oddsmakers have the over/under at a reasonable 43.5 games won. It could all come together nicely and be a dangerous first round opponent no elite East team wants to face. Or it could flounder and lose inexplicably in winnable games, or at home, like they did a lot last season. If they can put that behind them with Butler now leading the way and be able to reverse their recent misfortunes, they have a realistic shot at surpassing that win total.

Final prediction: 45-37

Surya Fernandez (@SuryaHeatNBA)