Miami Heat 2024 NBA Offseason Preview: Don't Expect Big Changes

Season 2023-24: 46-36

Highlight of the season: A month-long November-December period in which rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. averaged 15.9 points — with just one game under double figures — solidifying Miami's 2023 draft pick as a major bargain.

With a trip to the infirmary. The Heat were plagued by injuries late in the season, which continued to impact the postseason. Jimmy Butler left the team's first play-in game against the Philadelphia 76ers and did not play the rest of the game. Terry Rozier, the team's midseason addition, missed all postseason action, and later in the Heat's first-round game against the Boston Celtics, Jaquez missed time with a hip injury.

This was an unfortunate turn of events given Miami's competitiveness as an underdog in recent years. Not only did the Heat add a needed youthful element with Jaquez, but they also added more offensive power with Rozier, giving head coach Erik Spoelstra the firepower he's lacked in previous years.

Bam Adebayo's defense has remained under the radar all season. The 26-year-old is rarely a stat monster, averaging just two steals and blocks per game this season, but his sense of angles, ability to protect and recover, and patience in guarding the rim have been nothing short of exceptional this season.

If there's one thing to take away from this season, it's that Adebayo appears to be at a higher level. The center slowly began to incorporate the 3-point shot into his game, which helped stretch the opposing defense. He's not quite Brook Lopez yet, but his willingness to take those shots could lead to him developing into a completely different offensive player in the future.

While Heat fans are certainly disappointed with how the season ended, the franchise appears to be on the right track with its increased focus on offensive development. We shouldn't expect big changes, and this is probably the right move.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler looks from the bench between Miami Heat forward Kevin Love (42) and forward Nikola Jovic (5) during the second half of Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday, April 27, at Kaseya Center in Miami, 2024. (DA Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Jimmy Butler's health is a major concern for the Heat. (DA Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A little more youth. Jaquez last year and Nikola Jović the year before signaled a necessary shift from a franchise that has mostly fallen in love with established veterans to embracing young players with a high level of understanding of the game. This trend must continue.

Butler will be 35 at the start of next season, and his knee injury this postseason cost the Heat a chance at an upset against the Celtics. Still, he's effective when he plays, but he'd be much better with a co-headliner. With two years left on his contract and maximum salary (approximately $50 million apiece), it would be wise to capitalize on his remaining prime. Effective drafting resulted in the acquisition of Jacquez and Jović, who are either part of Miami's future or valuable trade partners in the hopes of acquiring another star. The Heat didn't go all-in on either Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard, and considering how things turned out, that might have been for the best. But at some point, being a play-in team may no longer be the norm for Spoelstra (who just signed a contract extension that puts his salary on par with Popovich and Monty Williams) — especially in an Eastern Conference that is always on the list.

Adebayo is a mainstay at his peak and continues to grow. But what to do with Tyler Herro, especially if Rozier is under contract through 2025-26? You're near the second apron and you never want to be caught without options. Organizationally, the Heat are as consistent as ever, and given the upheaval many teams appear to be in, the Heat could be ready to strike and return to the land of the living in the East. —Vincent Goodwill

Spoelstra said he values ​​older, experienced college players over once-in-a-lifetime talent and secured Jaquez from UCLA in the draft last year. The Heat could target another older player who can play immediately, like 6-foot-3 guard Dalton Knecht of Tennessee or 6-foot-6 left guard Terrence Shannon Jr. of Illinois. —Krysten Peek

Projected draft picks (pre-lottery): No. 15 and 43

The Heat are an expensive team that are currently projected to be above the No. 1 frontcourt. They won't have money to spend on the open market, but they aren't necessarily looking for major expansions. They made their mock free agency signing by trading Kyle Lowry's expiring contract for Rozier, adding two more years of salary to their books.

Miami could go for both Jović and Jaquez, but that doesn't seem wise as they need players who can develop within their system.

Key free agent

Haywood Highsmith (RFA)

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Come back healthy and make sure the starting lineup is right. Before Rozier went down, his performance was up and down, which is natural given the time he spent with Charlotte. A full training camp and half a season of experience with his new team should allow him to land in 2024-2025.

Heat Culture suffered a setback after reaching the finals last season. Herro missed 34 games this season, and Rozier (neck) and Butler (knee) were also unavailable for the postseason.

With Rozier, Butler, Adebayo and Herro taking up most of the team's capacity, it will be difficult to make meaningful plays that don't include at least one of them. Swapping Herro and Duncan Robinson's $19 million-a-year contract makes financial sense, but will also open up more opportunities for Jaquez.

Another late riser to watch out for is Jović. After the All-Star break, he started in 24 games and averaged 14.7 points with 8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.7 three-pointers and 1 steal per 75 possessions. If he can approach 30-minute nights, that's a decent fantasy profile worth investing in. – Dan Titus

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