Miami Heat’s Starting 5 Ranks in Top 100 NBA Players


The Miami Heat have come a long way since LeBron James’ departure, executing what could be an historic rebuild to get back into contention in the Eastern Conference. In fact the Heat could have the second-best starting unit behind just LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sports Illustrated is certainly impressed, ranking all five of the Heat’s starters in its top 100 NBA players.

Hassan Whiteside is ranked the lowest, coming in at No. 69. The main knock against the center is that he’s only played in 48 games last season, and that he has to continue this level of play before being elevated in the rankings over guys who have succeeded in the NBA over a longer period of time.

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“There is more healthy skepticism in this particular case than there might be in some other young center’s ascent, though all of that might soon be moot should Whiteside’s play endure,” wrote SI.

Luol Deng is next at No. 59, with SI saying: “Deng is notable for the fact that he takes nothing off the table. A team could play any way it likes with Deng slotted at small forward and enjoy the same winning ends: Steady production, heady defense, and a commitment to the work.”

I must agree. Many players will do one or two things very well, but Deng can do a little of everything. That’s important for a team like the Heat that valued versatility.

Goran Dragic is our first player in the top 50, coming in at No. 42. It’s a seven spot drop from last season, and he’s ranked behind such guards as Jeff Teague and Eric Bledsoe, but he’s still in that sphere.

Of course, that leaves Miami’s top two players–Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade dropped 10 spots from last season, from 20 to 30. The reason? Health of course, and his continued decline on defense. He’s not the freakish athlete he once was, but his old-man game helps his career endure.

Bosh is Miami’s highest-rated player at No. 22. SI is excited for his return after missing a lot of last season.

"Even if everything falls into place more or less as expected, there’s still a sense that Bosh will need to take his game to a higher level compared to last season for Miami to achieve meaningful success. His versatility, mobility, sniper-like shooting from the elbow and three-point range are all plusses, but he needs to be a more present and efficient inside threat, as less than 20% of his attempts came in the basket area and he finished less than 52% of those looks, numbers that are way down from his James-aided production during the Big 3’s peak years."

Bosh needs to step up from his performance last season. By no means was it bad–he was still named an All Star, but it needs to be more consistent. Less disappearing, more aggression to get to the basket for easy points. His versatility on defense, being able to play both power forward and center, and switch onto guards late in the shot clock, are also major assets for a Heat team looking to revitalize itself on defense.

Not every team can claim its top five being in the top 100 players. While Sports Illustrated’s list is not gospel, it’s good to know the objective ones hold the Heat’s starting lineup in high regard.

Next: Report: Heat To Make Strong Run at Kevin Durant in 2016