Now that the Miami Heat have traded Kyle Lowry for Terry Rozier, it’s time to take a look at what the revamped starting lineup and depth chart could look like.
Rozier will likely slide into the starting point guard role that Miami was seeking to upgrade before the trade deadline. We can pencil in Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro as starters. That leaves the question of who fits in as the fifth starter.
For the last 10 games, that’s been Nikola Jovic. The second-year forward has started since Jan. 3 next to Adebayo in the frontcourt and has had spurts of being a difference-maker in transition and with his playmaking. But, at 20, he’s still developing as a defender and consistent shooter. Although Erik Spoelstra and the front office are intrigued with his skillset, Jovic’s place in the starting lineup is far from guaranteed.
The Terry Rozier trade could bring Haywood Highsmith back into the Miami Heat's starting lineup.
Here’s my best guess as to what Spoelstra’s ideal starting lineup will look like after these recent roster changes:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Tyler Herro
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Haywood Highsmith
C: Bam Adebayo
Lowry’s absence allows Highsmith to be reintroduced to the starting lineup. If this were Lowry and Highsmith, the Heat would have two players on the court at the same time that opponents didn’t have to worry about offensively.
Swapping in Rozier gives the Heat four scoring threats in the starting lineup, making Highsmith less of a liability on offense. It also gives the Heat four players who need the ball to varying degrees. Highsmith doesn’t need the ball, which should make for an easy fit.
Defensively, this gives the Heat three high-end defenders and two guards – Herro and Rozier – who are probably better than their reputation (but will still get picked on by stronger offensive players).
Spoelstra will be able to stagger Herro and Rozier to ensure he has one of his top guards on the floor at all times. If Herro subs out midway through the first quarter for Duncan Robinson, it would set up Herro to take over the second unit at the start of the second quarter.
Miami’s next first-quarter lineup could be: Rozier, Robinson, Butler, Martin and Love.
The Heat could then open the second quarter with Herro, Robinson (or Josh Richardson), Jaquez, Martin and Adebayo.
Obviously, this pushes Jovic back to a bench-riding role. If he’s not starting, it’s hard to carve minutes out for him. He remains a long-term project for the Heat and he has given the front office reasons to be confident in his future over this last stretch. Being out of the rotation again wouldn’t mean the end of the road.
In addition to whose starting, the Heat also need to figure out their best closing five. Again, we can assume Rozier, Herro, Butler and Adebayo will be part of that group.
Highsmith, Martin and Robinson can all be used to close in certain matchups, but the best player among all the options is probably Jaquez.
A closing group of Rozier, Herro, Jaquez, Butler and Adebayo offers length, offensive creativity, shooting and enough defensive spunk to close games.
These are all ideal circumstances, with no injuries taking guys off the table, but that’s the point of this exercise. What does Miami’s ideal rotation look like with Rozier on the roster? It may just be a starting point but the Heat’s coaching staff, when considering these changes, has to start somewhere.
Miami Heat Depth Chart
PG: Terry Rozier / Josh Richardson
SG: Tyler Herro / Duncan Robinson
SF: Jimmy Butler / Jaime Jaquez Jr.
PF: Haywood Highsmith / Caleb Martin / Nikola Jovic
C: Bam Adebayo / Kevin Love / Thomas Bryant / Orlando Robinson