Early in Erik Spoelstra‘s tenure as the Miami Heat‘s head coach, his incredible success was mostly attributed to Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. Now that all three former Heat stars have moved on, Spoelstra is beginning to receive the respect he deserves.
The Palm Beach Post reported on a recent conversation between ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, who both agreed that Spoelstra is well on his way to building another powerhouse team in Miami and will eventually be headed to the NBA Hall of Fame.
“Erik Spoelstra in my opinion is one of the best in the business,” Jackson said. “He is an outstanding coach and a future Hall of Famer.”
Last year, Spoelstra famously turned the Heat’s 2016-17 season around after the team started 10-31 before the All-Star break, but miraculously finished with a 31-10 record in the second half of the season. While the Heat eventually missed the playoffs, it’s clear the team is on the rise.
Van Gundy agreed with Jackson’s prediction of Spoelstra’s future place in the Hall of Fame.
“I’ll second the fact that Erik Spoelstra is a Hall of Fame coach,” Van Gundy said. “He’s done a terrific job in so many roles there but in this leadership role as a head coach he’s had the best team and the best talent and then he’s had young teams he’s had to develop and he’s done a great job with both situations. One thing about Miami they’re going to guard especially hard and they’re going to be tough to play against.”
Jackson continued to say that if the Heat are able to stay healthy this season, they could return to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.
“(Spoelstra’s) done a great job and they’ve done a great job of making sure they got the pieces back and also adding pieces,” Jackson said. “Because of the way they play, the way they compete the way they defend. … the way they get after it, they are certainly a playoff team in the Eastern Conference and if they’re healthy and whole they will be a tough out.”
“A lot comes down to [Goran] Dragic’s offensive explosion like he had in EuroBasket this year,” Van Gundy said. “What he did there was terrific (and) his last half of the year last year was great.”
He also pegged big man Hassan Whiteside as someone who could push the Heat over the edge:
“If they get a great year out of [Dragic] and Whiteside they’ll definitely be in the playoffs.”
The Heat are a young and talented team with a lot to prove this season. If Spoelstra is able to bring them back to prominence, his stature amongst his colleagues and critics is sure to continue to grow.