During the first half of the NBA season, the Miami Heat have surged through their schedule with a 29-win record, which has come as an unexpected development for many onlookers across the league. This level of success hasn’t been seen by the club since the Big 3 era, and it’s fair to argue that this level of skill and depth hasn’t either. Led by the stoic shooting guard Jimmy Butler, the Heat boast a roster stocked with gems like rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, veteran point guard Goran Dragić and junior product Bam Adebayo, who has put together an all-star résumé. The Heat are locked in for the second spot at the top of the Eastern Conference and are just eight games behind the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks.
But if you ask anyone in the Miami locker room about their success, the answer will always be the same. No one seems impressed. Per the South Florida Sun Sentinel, when asked about the 11-6 mark against other teams with a .500 record or better, head coach Erik Spoelstra remarked, “I mean, yeah, who cares?” Butler, the de-facto heart and soul of the team, expressed similar feelings. “It means we got another 41 to go,” Butler said, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Despite their newfound success, many analysts and casual fans still count the Heat out as a legitimate contender for the 2020 NBA title. The Miami Heat seem to be a team one shooter or playmaker away from being a dangerous title-contending threat. The trade deadline is approaching and the Heat are chock-full of options.
The Heat have choices like Justice Winslow, who never blossomed into the player most expected he would be coming out of Duke, but could still draw a good return on the trade market. Dion Waiters is still waiting in the wings to depart from Miami after a laughable series of suspensions. However, talk around the league is centering on Jrue Holiday, a veritable star with unguardable one-on-one skill similar to Butler’s. The Heat could exchange a problematic five-year contract in guard Dragić for Holiday and free significant cap space, opening up room for a mega-star push in the next season. Although their chances of drawing a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo are fairly low, due to his current position, don’t count out the Heat as a destination for a superstar of Antetokounmpo’s stature this summer.
Even if moves like these aren’t made before the playoffs, the Heat could still push very far in the race for the championship. While he may not put up blockbuster statistics, Butler is a max player, plain and simple. He’s a player that has proved his clutch ability in the playoffs and in regular season games time and time again. He doesn’t have any quit in him. With an improving defense and an already top ten offense, the Heat hold all the qualities of an elite team on both sides of the ball, and they have the mentality of improvement vital to title winners.