Western conference coach argues Miami Heat won’t win a championship with Jimmy Butler as their best player

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The perception that the Miami Heat can win an NBA title with Jimmy Butler as their best player is being dismissed by a Western Conference coach.

Sean Deveney of Heavy.com spoke with the anonymous coach, who indicated that Butler should be playing “second fiddle” to Bam Adebayo, who needs to be the Heat’s top player.

“I’ve thought, even going back to 2020 when they were in the Finals in the bubble, that the only way they can win a championship is if Bam Adebayo is their best player,” the coach opined.

The Heat obtained Butler in a sign-and-trade deal just after the 33-year-old veteran entered free agency in 2019. After the interrupted 2019-20 season resumed, Butler fueled the Heat’s surge to the franchise’s first berth in the finals since 2014.

Even though the Heat ultimately lost in six games in the 2020 NBA Finals, Butler delivered a strong performance that seemed like it could begin a run of success for the Heat.

Instead, the Heat were quickly eliminated during the 2020-21 postseason. Last season, the team ended up getting to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals before losing the deciding game at home.

Miami Heat’s Struggles This Season

After nearly a month of the 2022-23 season, the Heat have struggled thus far, winning just six of their first 13 contests. A good portion of those woes came during the team’s first seven games when they started 2-5 on the year.

However, the Heat enter Monday night’s home game against the Phoenix Suns with a two-game winning streak. Also, the team is 4-1 in its last five home contests.

Despite the Heat’s problems, Butler leads the team with 22.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. In addition, he ranks second on the Heat behind Adebayo with 6.5 rebounds per contest and delivered a double-double last Thursday.

For his part, Adebayo is quickly developing into an integral part of the Heat’s lineup. That’s something the team’s front office was hoping for when it took him with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

In truth, Butler’s prickly personality has gotten under the skin of more than a few people in the NBA during his time in the league. That could be the reason for the coach’s dismissive opinion.

After Monday night’s game, the Heat will begin a stretch of eight road games in their next 10 contests. That begins with a Wednesday night game against the Toronto Raptors.

How the Heat navigate their way through that bumpy terrain could determine if such attitudes about Butler change or become louder if he begins to struggle.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.