In the opinion of many NBA analysts across the league, the Miami Heat will enter the 2022-23 regular season worse off than they were during the 2021-22 campaign.
The most common point that people have looked to while arguing that claim is the loss of veteran forward P.J. Tucker. Re-signing Tucker was reportedly the Heat’s No. 1 priority this summer, and they unfortunately lost out to the Philadelphia 76ers in the endeavor.
Moreover, the Heat have failed to land a big fish this summer despite many reports linking them to Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell.
Despite those sticking points, one Eastern Conference executive recently predicted that the Heat will win the Eastern Conference in the upcoming season.
“I think experience matters, and they were close last year,” the executive told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “We all anointed Boston really quickly, and they barely got by [Miami].”
The Heat were very nearly the team to represent the East in the 2022 NBA Finals. In fact, former Heat and Boston Celtics player Antoine Walker recently stated that he thinks the Heat would have had a better chance at beating the Golden State Warriors in last season’s Finals than the Celtics did.
Antoine Walker (@WalkerAntoine8) says Miami would have had a better chance than the Celtics to beat the Warriors in the Finals.
"I hate to take away from Golden State but, if you go back and watch the film, Boston gave Golden State that championship."
— Locked On Heat (@LockedOnHeat) August 8, 2022
“I think they would have had a better shot,” Walker said. “I don’t know if they could have scored enough to keep up with the Warriors, but defensively they would have been so stingy.
“And that’s where the Heat, and the game plan would have been a lot different than the Celtics. I hate to take away from Golden State, but if you go back and watch the film, Boston gave Golden State that championship.”
But the past is the past, and the East executive is looking toward this season. Perhaps the biggest hope that the Heat have is internal growth.
The most obvious contenders for that are young guard Tyler Herro and veteran guard Victor Oladipo. Herro won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season and could seriously challenge for an All-Star berth this season.
As for Oladipo, he is finally healthy after years of battling serious injuries, and he sounds incredibly confident that he is once again on the rise. He’s a former All-Star, but there are doubts that he can regain that form.
Meanwhile, sharpshooter Duncan Robinson regaining his previous form after a forgettable 2021-22 season would also dramatically help raise the Heat’s potential.
Still, with all the talent that exists in the East, the Heat are likely going to have work quite hard to prove to others around the NBA that they have what it takes to represent the East in the 2023 NBA Finals.