The Miami Heat are headed in a new direction. To be fair, this has been a work in progress but has never fully come to fruition. With Heat fans bracing themselves for another long Dwyane Wade summer decision looming, the most realistic option moving forward should be focused on current and or foreseeable leaders paving the way.
The first one that stands out, and should be a tiny shimmer of hope, is former Syracuse star Dion Waiters. The current dilemma, however, that is of major concern are his health issues, especially his pending comeback due to ankle surgery. They also took advantage during that surgery to repair a preexisting navicular bone fracture. Previously to that surgery, he had missed a total of 88 games of 164 played in two seasons since joining the Heat.
The entanglement now arising pre-season tip-off is exactly which Dion Waiters the Miami Heat will witness. The confidence sneaky offensive threat the Heat desperately need right now? Or the problematic, selfish, do it alone Dion Waiters?
What started off as a 2-year, $5 million deal has been extended to a 4-year, $52 million contracts. In an offseason where players are receiving ridiculous overpaid short-term contracts, this extension doesn’t seem too offsetting. The issue is when Waiters will actually live up to it.
Before going down, he had shown flashes of dominance in his overall game. More than anything his ability to create offense off isolation plays. Something Miami at the moment does not have.
Why is that important?
Well if Dion comes back stronger than ever, he will provide a much-needed spark that has divided the Heat since his absence. Wade tried to re-establish that but came late in the season to make a major season-changing difference.
Well, for starters, Waiter’s offense is that of a rare 26-year old with much upside left. He just hasn’t been given the opportunity.
Drafted by the Cavaliers back in 2012, he played his first 3 years behind the shadow of the King LeBron James. While limited, it did serve him as a learning point and breaking curve entering the league. In 2015 he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and only endured more limitations obtaining a bench role under Billy Donovan.
He only lasted one year as a big three in training to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant only to fall short of never making the cut. That was the last of Waiters being overlooked.
Now after two injury prone years, he now has a chance at redemption and this year might be the game changer. Dion averaged 14.3 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting in the past two years, but always had moments that proved his game meant more to the team than his stats.
Especially a case like this incredible game-winner over none other than the defending champions Golden State Warriors.
This is the Dion Waiters the Heat need back. A relentless offensive machine with no fear. He can achieve that now strictly being the top guy to initiate the game plan. Surrounded by shooters and a point guard general in Goran Dragic, the tools are there for success.
His style of play can alter defenses prompting them to adjust mid play by clogging the paint in defensive schemes. This is where the floor can open up leading to multiple options surrounding the arc. It also works because Dion doesn’t have to kick out instead opting for a mid-range jump shot or acrobatic layup. (yes, he has done those.) More options start to open up.
Confidence is also something the Heat lack. If you break down it down statistically, the Heat weren’t a bad defensive team in the East last year. They were able to limit their opponents to fewer than 100 points over 30 times last season. With a young core filled with defensive wings and above average shooters displaying immense defensive capabilities, then why aren’t the Heat a more mentioned adversary in the East.
Well, the answer is plain and simple, no All-Stars. With the exception of Goran Dragic’s late addition to the All-Star game, the Heat are left without any true superstar to help assist the Heat’s case in reclaiming their spot among the Eastern’s greats. In a league full of big three’s and fours, the Heat are quickly falling out of that category. Dion Waiters can change that.
That is, of course, being overly optimistic, but it isn’t something too far-fetched. Especially with Dwyane Wade’s status still up in the air.
Even Miami Heat President Pat Riley is showing glances of enthusiasm at Waiter’s comeback.
More Riley from today. "Dion Waiters is now ramping up his efforts to heal and get better and put more work into being able to get out on the court, so he’s coming along."
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 27, 2018
With the East now open for grabs following the Decision 3.0, Miami has an opportunity this year to prove the doubters wrong and with perfect timing as well. All that’s left is a veteran leader in the starting unit ready for battle. Why shouldn’t Dion be at the top of that list? He can certainly step up to the plate, and with his injuries now a thing of the past, his comeback can start earlier than expected.