NBA 2014-15 Power Rankings Preview: #15 Miami Heat

Just what will the Heat look like after losing out on the LeBron Sweepstakes?

This NBA offseason has been very eventful and the preseason is now in full swing. To help hoops junkies with the transition from the lull of summer back to competitive basketball, we here at numberFire will be rolling out our projections for next season in the form of team previews, starting at 30 and going all the way to number one. We continue today with the 15th-ranked Miami Heat!

It’s the dawn of a new era in Miami. After the Heat were manhandled by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, everyone knew what was coming next. LeBron James left the tropical weather and pals Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade for the frigid, dull Ohio landscape Things won’t be the same for Miami entering the 2014-2015 season, but you can bet Bosh and Wade will light a fire under this team to compete as hard as ever to prove the nay-sayers wrong.

numberFire Metrics

Projected Record: 42-40
Eastern Conference Rank: 7th
NBA Rank: 15th
nERD: 50.2
Playoff Chances: 65.22%
Championship Chances: 1.90%

When you take the weak Eastern Conference and look at the Heat roster that still has good talent, Miami is still a squad that can make the playoffs. Obviously we see a 10-win drop from last season to this, but it’s not all bad. When Russell Peddle broke down the Heat with and without James for the 2013-14 season, the Heat were at a projected 39 wins without the King. Amazingly, they would have still done enough to make the playoffs last year. Miami has definitely improved their odds despite losing James with our projected 42 wins, just enough to support their high chance of making the playoffs in 2015.

Player Movement

Notable Additions
Shabazz Napier (via draft)
Josh McRoberts (via free agency)
Luol Deng (via free agency)
Danny Granger (via free agency)

Notable Losses
LeBron James (free agency)
Michael Beasley (free agency)
Rashard Lewis (free agency)
Shane Battier (retired)

Again, the new era in Miami is starting so I won’t dwell on the loss of James much more. It hurts, but the Heat also improved in some areas on the court they previously couldn’t, and got younger so to speak in the process. McRoberts is an under-the-radar player coming from the Hornets, but he has versatility that the team currently lacks. Deng should provide a lot of help on the wing and strengthen the team defensively. The drafting of Shabazz Napier is compelling. The Heat have two point guards already in Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers. If Napier – one of the top point guards pre-draft – picks up the pace of the NBA quickly, he could very well challenge for playing time.

Three Burning Questions

Who takes as leader and main scorer of the Heat this year?
Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade will be the likely candidates to take over as the face of the Heat without James. Bosh has been in this position before with the Raptors, so he is used to the spotlight. This used to be Wade’s team long before Shaquille O’Neal brought Wade his first championship.

Wade may be more vocal, but Bosh wants to take the lead this year. Bosh’s Usage Rate was slightly less than Wade’s throughout the 2013-14 season, 22.6% to 27.6%. However, Bosh did prove to be the better offensive player with a 110.6 Offensive Rating compared to Wade’s 107.2, but Wade had a slightly higher win share per 48 minutes (ws/48) than Bosh, .192 to .175. So the alpha dog for the Heat this year could be either guy - or it could be both.

Can Dwyane Wade play a full season?
A lot of Wade’s playing time and trying to be the face of the team again will be tied to his injuries. Wade has played for 11 seasons and has missed 58 games over the last three years. Wade can still score with some of the best, but if his minutes aren’t managed properly at the beginning of the season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him miss 10 to 15 games again this year.

What can Josh McRoberts bring to the Heat?
We could take the WS/48 of McRoberts, Luol Deng and Danny Granger and combine them to come up with a beautiful number. However, it's not simple or easy to replace one of the greatest to ever to play the game of basketball. The Heat have a rotation of players that can keep them competitive in the East though and it really begins with McRoberts.

McRoberts could be a great signing for the Heat when it’s all said and done, as they will look to McRoberts the same way the Spurs look at Boris Diaw. Yes, McRoberts has bounced around from the Trail Blazers to the Pacers, Lakers, Magic and finally to the Bobcats, but it was his time in Charlotte that he finally developed his game. He contributed everywhere around the court last year and could fit into Spolestra’s system very nicely this year. The Heat will still attempt to play a “position-less” type of game which could highlight the six-year vet’s abilities.

Fantasy Hoops Stock Watch

PF/C Chris Bosh (Yahoo O-Rank: 25)
Bosh's fantasy impact will be big. While he's currently being drafted in the second or third rounds, he has first-round upside as the man again. Bosh will contribute everywhere, giving fantasy basketballers a rarely-seen nine-category threat each week. Expect Bosh to consistently hit 20 points and grab 10 rebounds on a nightly basis. He should be close to giving you a 1-1-1 in three-pointers, steals and blocks too. Throw in good percentages and reasonable turnovers, and you’ve got a great anchor to your fantasy basketball team.

PF/C Josh McRoberts (Yahoo O-Rank: 130)
Now that McRoberts is out of Charlotte and into the spotlight with Miami, he may garner a little more attention in fantasy basketball. But if he continues to put out single-digit point outputs, he may be a great sleeper pick your draft. You can expect solid rebound numbers and the best big man assist bonus this side of Joakim Noah. McRoberts can also hit plenty of threes and has elite-level low turnovers for someone who gets so many assists. He could have the ceiling of a mid-round talent, thanks to passable percentages, but will likely be taken in the later rounds.