Five Reasons the Miami Heat’s 2016-17 Season Was a Success

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1. The Heat’s ‘Long-Term’ Core Looks Very Promising

Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside

Miami has three players signed through to the 2019-20 season. Those players are Dragic, Tyler Johnson and Whiteside. Not a bad core based on their performances this season. Though they’re obviously not the Big 3, Riley and the team should be thrilled with the steady improvement of these three competitors.

Having Dragic as a primary ball-handler/scorer for years to come is certainly an exciting prospect. The Slovenian has taken his game to new heights since arriving in Miami — and he’s still only 30 years old.

Whiteside is 27, and seems largely over the “attitude issues” that had plagued his stock in the past. This past season — the first year of his four-year, $98 million deal — the 7-footer led the league in rebounds. He’s still improving, too. Under the continued guidance of Haslem, Juwan Howard and Spoelstra, Whiteside should continue to play like a franchise big man for years to come.

As for Tyler Johnson, he was third in the league in bench scoring this season and he’s only 24. Furthermore, he is beloved within the Heat organization for his endless heart, hustle and tenacity. Though none of them came cheap, these are three guys that Miami should feel really good about long-term.

Second-year forward Justise Winslow looked great before he went down, too. He’s locked up with the Heat until 2018-19, when Miami will have a team option for the former first-rounder worth just under $3.5 million. That’s not bad at all, if it’s assumed he will continue to improve. Guys like James Johnson and Waiters, who played excellent basketball in 2016-17, have also expressed interest in staying with the Heat past this year.

All in all, while the end result was not what the team or its fans quite hoped for, it’s clear the 2016-17 season was rewarding in a plethora of other ways. Of course it isn’t normal for a team to have so many positives to take into the offseason after finishing just .500. Then again, nothing about this Heat season was “normal.” Frankly, fans may never see anything quite like it again, in Miami or anywhere else — and that’s just another reason this year was so special for the Heat.
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Grant is a life-long Miami Heat fan hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His earliest Heat memories involve Eddie Jones going off on opponents and hoping he'd become the next Michael Jordan. When that didn't pan out, a guy named Dwyane Wade came to Miami and Grant's fandom turned to obsession. He graduated with an English degree from the University of Central Florida and currently resides in Los Angeles.