3 Ways the Heat are better than last season's Finals team

The Miami Heat made the Finals last year but is this year's team better on paper?

New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat
New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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1. Better Role Players

We cherish the memories Gabe Vincent and Max Strus gave us. Both of these competitors would take on a lion one-on-one if it meant they'd win the ball game. They were as fearless as they came and relished the opportunity to take big shots.

Kyle Lowry was a veteran past his prime but still generated juice with hit-ahead passes, adult in-the-room presence, and random shooting bursts. He fit the Heat fabric. If only he had been in South Beach when he was 29. 

Jamie Jaquez Jr., this version of Duncan Robinson, and Terry Rozier are better players with higher highs. Jaquez is only a rookie, but we've seen glimpses of everything. His footwork is out of this world: fake, fake, fake, spin, half-spin, scoop layup. That sequence regularly appears in his highlight tape. His patience is to be envied by players already on their second contact. When he's at his best, he won't be sped up.

Duncan Robinson is rejuvenated and a more all-around offensive player than Strus or Vincent. He's more consistent than both of them, too. Robinson has improved as a passer. His laser-accurate lobs to Bam have added a new dimension to their established dribble-handoff game. He can get to the rim better than ever. He's breaking coverages and maximizing his all-time shooting. Robinson is the best shooter to call Miami home, and the Heat are much better when he's in the starting lineup. 

The Terry Rozier experiment hasn't gone according to plan, but he's still an upgrade over Lowry. He won't score zero points multiple games in a row. He puts immense pressure on defenses. He makes plays for himself and others. When attacking the rim, defenses can't assume he will pass over and over again as Lowry would. Rozier's 3-point shooting still hasn't turned the corner. He's getting good looks but is still struggling to find consistency. If and when he figures it out, there will be no debate that this Heat roster is better than last year's. 

Next. next. The 10 Greatest Heat players in history, ranked by Player Efficiency Rating (PER). dark