Michael T. Eckhardt is a sports blogger from Miami, FL. He is a Miami Heat season-ticket holder and is the coach and director of the Bimini Ballers AAU basketball program. When he’s not out there coaching inner-city teens, he is heavily involved in IT project management through his firm, Sunshine State Consulting.
Hello there! I’m Michael T. Eckhardt. My home state Miami has always been a hotbed for pro sports, and since there is so much gossip and news going around, I sometimes don’t know where to get started. What I want to write about now, though, is the Miami Heat.
To say that the Heat are underperforming right now is an understatement. They have an 11-26 record, are dead last in the Southeast Division, and are third to the last in the Eastern Conference. There’s very little to cheer about if you’re a Heat fan; not even the elevated play of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside who have been the consolation of their supporters. Dragic seems to have cooled down after a December stretch where he averaged 21.1 points and 6.7 assists; he has seen limited minutes in four of the Heat’s games since December 27. Whiteside, on the other hand, has not yet been cleared after getting poked in the eye in a game against Boston.
Adding to the Heat’s worries is the injury of forward Justise Winslow. The second-year player had been averaging 10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.3 steals this year, and has been the designated defensive stopper this season. However, he has been declared done for the season after a torn labrum in the right shoulder that required surgery. This comes as a blow to the Heat, as Winslow had been on the floor for 33.6 minutes per game for the past month. With this latest development, coach Erik Spoelstra might be forced to rely even more on a shortened rotation, putting even more strain on an already-banged up roster.
Everyone knows that Chris Bosh might not even play this season or the next. At the start of the season, we were expecting Whiteside and Dragic to at least lead the Heat to a decent record. Right now though, the Heat are looking more and more like a lottery team. They have a good chance of getting the sixth overall pick in a very stacked 2017 NBA Draft, which has promising prospects such as the likes of Washington’s Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson out of Kansas, and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. Fultz and Ball are both point guards, which might seem redundant considering that Dragic is still there and the Heat are in desperate need of a power forward.
However, Whiteside has been very vocal about needing another point guard in the rotation. Barring any major improvements in the Heat’s performance this season, it looks like he’ll get his wish. The power forward prospects in next year’s draft don’t look like a very competitive bunch despite a loaded draft class, with only Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona looking like an NBA player.
That, or they could land Russell Westbrook from the free agency market. Hey, who knows, right?