This season, Miami Heat forward Kevin Love believes that the team can duplicate or even surpass the success that it had in the 2022-23 campaign.
Miami made the NBA Finals last season as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the team ended up falling short in the Finals to the Denver Nuggets. Still, Love believes that the team can build on that this season, according to Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor.
“He believes Miami can duplicate — or even surpass — last year’s success, when it advanced to the NBA Finals before losing in five games to the Denver Nuggets,” Fedor wrote. “He has taken younger teammates under his wing. Last season, Max Strus occupied the locker next to Love — and the two formed a lifelong brotherly bond that led to Love steering Strus toward the [Cleveland] Cavs in free agency. This year, Love’s locker buddy is fellow UCLA Bruin — and new protégé — Jaime Jaquez Jr.”
It’s great to see a veteran like Love – who won a title with the Cavs in the 2015-16 season – believe in his team to be successful again this season.
Heat fans also have to be excited that Love has taken the team’s first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft – Jaquez – under his wing.
This season, Jaquez has gotten off to a great start with Miami and turned himself into a key rotation player for the team.
In 22 games, the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft is averaging 12.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Even though he’s only started four games, Jaquez is playing a healthy 27.3 minutes per night.
Love, on the other hand, has taken on a smaller role for the Heat this season. He’s appeared in 16 games, making four starts, but he’s played just 18.2 minutes per game, which is down from the 20.0 minutes per game he played with Miami in the 2022-23 regular season.
The five-time All-Star is averaging 8.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from 3.
Miami lost a couple of rotation players in Gabe Vincent and Strus in the offseason, but the team is still 12-10 so far this season. That’s not a bad place to be, though the Heat are certainly hoping to improve on that record. The squad has dealt with injuries this season, with players like Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler all missing games.
The Heat showed last season that as long as they get into the playoffs, they are a threat to win it all. Clearly, Love believes his team can make some noise again this season.