The Miami Heat have rebuilt their roster this offseason, but among the newcomers, Jimmy Butler is the only one who is sure to be in the starting lineup.
Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel looked at potential starting lineups for the Heat with the start of training camp just around the corner and the 2019-20 regular season just a month away.
According to Winderman, the only players with guaranteed starting spots are Butler and Bam Adebayo. That means there are three more positions up for grabs.
Here are the options for the remaining spots in the starting lineup for Miami:
1. Kelly Olynyk-Dion Waiters-Goran Dragic:
“This essentially would be a case of picking up where the Heat left off last season, with Olynyk forging chemistry in the power rotation with Adebayo and Dragic’s presence in the first five limited only by injury,” wrote Winderman.
A lineup like this would put Justise Winslow on the bench despite being a productive player at point guard last season. Butler would play small forward as Waiters would take the shooting guard slot.
“The three-man unit of Olynyk-Waiters-Dragic played 145 minutes together last season, with a net rating of minus-15.4,” noted Winderman.
2. Olynyk-Waiters-Justise Winslow:
“This approach would get Winslow into the starting lineup and add size to the first unit,” Winderman said. “It also would give the Heat three interchangeable defensive components on the wing.”
In this potential lineup, Dragic would come off the bench instead of Winslow, but it would add size to the starters.
“The three-man unit of Olynyk-Waiters-Winslow played 341 minutes together last season, with a net rating of plus-5.9,” Winderman added.
Having a small lineup like this would create mismatches for the Heat and utilize their best players right from the start with Winslow and Dragic together, but it could also spell disaster for Coach Erik Spoelstra.
“The approach, however, could leave the Heat particularly undersized, at a time when there still is the issue of overcoming [Hassan] Whiteside’s absence on the boards,” Winderman said.
“The three-man unit of Winslow-Waiters-Dragic did not play together last season.”
4. James Johnson-Winslow-Dragic:
“This is another way of getting both Winslow and Dragic in the starting lineup, while also creating a renewed opportunity for Johnson,” said Winderman.
“It would, however, move Waiters to the second unit, where Tyler Herro figures to play as somewhat of a volume shooter.”
Waiters coming off the bench could be a problem waiting to be solved, but it would give the Heat a proven scorer from the reserves.
“Another possibility with Johnson starting is to move Dragic’s veteran presence to the second unit, where he could help create stability alongside Herro and [Derrick] Jones [Jr.],” explained Winderman.
The only danger here is probably having two players in Johnson and Adebayo on the floor together. These two are not exactly proven 3-point shooters.
“The three-man unit of Johnson-Winslow-Waiters did not play together last season,” Winderman added.
“This approach would also raise questions about size, but would also inject more shooting into the first unit,” Winderman wrote.
“Beyond that, a Winslow-Herro-Jones second unit could infuse youthful vitality during the dog days of the season.”
This lineup is intriguing and one that could be experimented on by Spoelstra during training camp and the preseason.
“With Olynyk and Winslow at forward, it would maximize the potential beef of the first unit and should help on the boards,” Winderman said. “But Olynyk would need to thrive as a floor spacer.
“The three-man-unit of Olynyk-Winslow-Dragic did not play together last season.”
Olynyk can knock down the three, and he might take more of those this season if he gets more open shots because of Butler’s presence.