The Miami Heat are going to be very different next season, and due to the loss of key personnel, Justise Winslow is expected to take on a much bigger workload on offense in his second NBA season, while Goran Dragic will see the offensive scheme go a lot more through him than before.
The Heat lost Luol Deng and Joe Johnson to free agency, but the most significant loss from every aspect and level possible is that of Dwyane Wade, hitting free agency and joining the Chicago Bulls. Wade had the highest usage rating on the team (31.6%) last season, while Dragic was third behind Chris Bosh at 21.9%. The Heat did add Dion Waiters who’ll command time with the ball, but Dragic is expected to at least bring his on-ball dominance to the levels from his last full season with the Phoenix Suns in 2013-2014, when he also played next to another point guard, and finished with a 24.5% usage ratio.
Interestingly enough are Dragic’s numbers when Wade wasn’t on the floor: He averaged 17.6 (up from 14.8 with Wade) points and 6.6 assists (up from 5.7) when Wade wasn’t playing next to him, but his shooting took a severe hit, making only 43.2% of his shots, compared to 48.3% when Wade was next to him in the backcourt. With Dragic getting more time as the ball handler, the Heat are expected to play faster basketball, although they’ll have to counter that when Hassan Whiteside expects more touches. Dragic did raise his scoring in the playoffs, averaging 16.5 points per game as opposed to 14.1 during the regular season.
Another player expected to take another step in Winslow, entering his second NBA season. He averaged 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in his rookie year, playing 28.6 minutes a night through 78 games. He was 18th on the team in usage among all players used on average (12.5%). The Heat want him to be a lot closer to his shooting from the one year at Duke (41.8% from three compared to 27.6% last season), and be a lot more helpful and dominant defensively, but especially upgrade him game on offense.
It’s going to be a weird year for Miami, the first without Wade since the 2002-2003 season. However, if Dragic can take over the main guard role smoothly without Waiters getting in the way, and Winslow takes his game to another level and becomes a meaningful part of the offense, maybe the first Wade-less season won’t be the disaster many feel it might turn out to be.