Q: If you look at the Top 100 players list, and then you look at any Heat game and the 10 guys on the floor, we never have the number-one guy. On a good night, we will have the number two with Goran Dragic. Take him away and we’re a lottery team. Add him back and it’s low playoff seed or near miss. We’re not even stuck in the middle here. If we got Dion Waiters back and back to form, things change, because he believes he is a Top 25 player. He is not, but the confidence is real and that counts for something, especially late in games. — John.
A: You are correct, and it is a factor I often point out. Just like the team getting the best player in a trade most often wins the deal, such also often is the case with having the best player in a game. Part of the problem is that the Heat, at least in 2016 free agency, thought they had that in Hassan Whiteside. Whether it has been because of the game changing or other factors, that hasn’t been the case. The result has been that for the Heat to win, often three or four players have to be at the top of their game on any given night, something that often is not the case against an opponent with a singular star or superstar. It is a difficult way to try to win in the NBA.
Q: I’m tired of excuses putting together a bunch of average-to-above-average NBA players. Look at the Clippers. They lost three superstars and are making it work. It’s either Erik Spoelstra/the type of system he’s running or we have the wrong mix. — Steve, Jacksonville.
A: No one is saying that it cannot work in the short run, as it is for the Clippers. The Heat took such a roster to a 30-11 record over the second half of 2016-17 and then to a No. 6 seed and playoffs last season. The question is whether it is sustainable, something that is way too early to consider with Doc Rivers’ upstart Clippers.
Q: It’s great that we will have cap space in 2020 to sign a superstar, but looking ahead to see who will be available and there are very few big names. It’s really a 27-year-old Anthony Davis or bust. I guess a 31-year-old DeMar DeRozan would be a consolation prize. A 27-year-old Andre Drummond maybe? After those three names it really drops off. Unless we know that Anthony Davis just “happened” to bump into Pat Riley at Prime 112 fresh off his 41 points the other night, it’s more likely that the Heat trade off an expiring contract or two next season for a disgruntled or underachieving star already on a long term deal. — Dave, Placentia, Calif.
A: And that very much is the way it could play out. I’m frequently cautioned by front-office types not to just consider free agency when considering cap space. It is among the reasons the Heat are being careful with the luxury tax, because there is a chance, as slight as it might be, that the team could yet be working in the luxury tax in 2020 if trades are the path to the rebuild.
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