Looking Back At The 2021 Miami Heat

July 12th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Last season, the 2020 Miami Heat overachieved, as they ended up getting all the way to the NBA Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.  It was a terrific season for head coach Erik Spoelstra, All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and their entire team.

This year though, the Heat really dropped off, and they seemed to fumble their offseason plan when they chose not to re-sign Jae Crowder.  They opted for cheaper options in signing Maurice Harkless and Avery Bradley, but neither of the two really gained the trust or favor of their head coach, and the Heat traded them both.  The acquired Ariza at the trade deadline, but that still didn’t quite fix the hole left behind by Crowder when Crowder left to join the Suns.

Even worse, other teams seemed to get the book on the Heat.  Jimmy Butler didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well, and Tyler Herro’s play seemed to be a bit uneven this year.  The Heat lost more games than usual, and they ended up getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs.

Jimmy Butler played well in the regular season, but injuries and a poor postseason play dogged him this year, as the Heat ended up getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round this past season.
(Photo:
Oscar Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images, via Fansided’s All U Can Heat)

F Jimmy Butler
2021 (MIA): 52 GP, 21.5 PPG, 7.1 APG, 6.9 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 50 FG%, 25 3PT%, 86 FT%, 26.5 PER, 61 TS%, 9.3 WS, .255 WS48

He played very well in the regular season, and he did just about everything well, sans three-point shooting for his team.  In the playoffs though, Butler didn’t have nearly as huge of an impact as he had for them last year, and he really struggled to shoot or score efficiently, as his team ended up getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks this time around.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting swingman for the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars

Miami Heat’s center, Bam Adebayo had a solid season, but he and his team faltered in the playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Michael Reaves/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Hoops Habit)

C Bam Adebayo
2021 (MIA): 64 GP, 18.7 PPG, 9 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1 BPG, 57 FG%, 80 FT%, 22.7 PER, 63 TS%, 8.8 WS, .197 WS48

Adebayo played very well during the regular season, as he excelled as an interior player and as a facilitator for his team.  However, he was not nearly as effective in the playoffs this time around, as he struggled to make shots efficiently, and he also did not block many shots in his first-round series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars (3.5 stars potential)

F Duncan Robinson
2021 (MIA): 72 GP, 13.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 44 FG%, 41 3PT%, 83 FT%, 11 PER, 63 TS%, 3.7 WS, .079 WS48

He shot the ball very well during the regular season, but he was not quite as effective as a shooter in the playoffs this year.  Still, his size and sharpshooting prowess makes him a solid role player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Will be a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Trevor Ariza
2021 (MIA): 30 GP, 9.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1 SPG, 41 FG%, 35 3PT%, 77 FT%, 11.9 PER, 54 TS%, 1.6 WS, .091 WS48

Ariza did a decent job of shooting and defending in his role, though his jump shot has been in relative decline in recent years.  On the other hand, he did not shoot the ball well at all in the playoffs this year.

2021 Season Grade: D+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Ariza will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Victor Oladipo
2021 (IND/HOU/MIA): 33 GP, 19.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 41 FG%, 33 3PT%, 75 FT%, 14.3 PER, 51 TS%, 0.4 WS, .017 WS48

Victor Oladipo scored points in volume, and he was effective as a ball mover on offense, but he didn’t shoot the ball very efficiently, and he also didn’t defend as well as he could have this year.  He also played just four games for Miami after having been traded to them in a midseason trade before getting hurt and missing the rest of the season.

2021 Season Grade: D (B w/IND, F w/HOU, F w/MIA)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Goran Dragić
2021 (MIA): 50 GP, 13.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.4 RPG, 43 FG%, 37 3PT%, 83 FT%, 13 PER, 55 TS%, 1.3 WS, .048 WS48

He had a decent season this year, band he put up similar numbers to the year before, but he didn’t quite shoot as well as he did last season.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Dragic has a team option that the team can pick up for next season.

G-F Tyler Herro
2021 (MIA): 54 GP, 15.1 PPG, 5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 44 FG%, 36 3PT%, 80 FT%, 13.3 PER, 54 TS%, 1.7 WS, .049 WS48

Big things were expected of Herro this season, especially after he had a terrific playoffs that culminated in him scoring 37 points in Game 4 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics as a rookie last year.

Herro was fairly inconsistent as a shooter this year, and he didn’t pour on as many big shooting nights as was expected of him.  After having played very well in the playoffs last year, Herro did not shoot the ball nearly well as in the postseason this time around.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars (3 stars potential)

G Kendrick Nunn
2021 (MIA): 56 GP, 14.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.6 APG, 48 FG%, 38 3PT%, 93 FT%, 14.2 PER, 60 TS%, 2.9 WS, .084 WS48

Nunn shot the ball much better in the regular season, and he had a solid second season in the NBA, but he struggled to make shots in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Will be a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F-C Precious Achiuwa
2021 (MIA): 61 GP, 5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 54 FG%, 51 FT%, 14.2 PER, 55 TS%, 1.3 WS, .085 WS48

He had a solid start to the season, and he rebounded the ball well, but he didn’t quite shoot nor defend as well down the stretch, and he did not play much in the playoffs this year.  He also didn’t seem to show much an outside shot, and he did not take a single three-point shot this season.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

G-F Andre Iguodala
2021 (MIA): 63 GP, 4.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 38 FG%, 33 3PT%, 66 FT%, 9.2 PER, 52 TS%, 1.7 WS, .062 WS48

He generally excelled as a facilitator and defender, and though he didn’t take many shots nor shoot the ball well in the regular season, he was more effective as a shooter in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Iguodala has a team option that the team can exercise for next season.

F Nemanja Bjelica
2021 (SAC/MIA): 37 GP, 6.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 45 FG%, 32 3PT%, 73 FT%, 12.9 PER, 55 TS%, 0.9 WS, .071 WS48

He didn’t shoot nor defend very well in the regular season, but he did shoot the ball well in the playoffs this year when he was on the court.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Dewayne Dedmon
2021 (MIA): 16 GP, 7.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 71 FG%, 74 FT%, 24.5 PER, 73 TS%, 1.1 WS, .256 WS48

He did a great job of playing his role as an interior player on the Miami Heat this past season, and he also played well in the playoffs when he was on the floor.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G-F Max Strus (Two-Way)
2021 (MIA): 39 GP, 6.1 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 45 FG%, 34 3PT%, 67 FT%, 12.1 PER, 60 TS%, 0.9 WS, .088 WS48

Strus really surpassed expectations this past season.  He generally shot the ball well, and while he could improve his three-point shot, and defense he played much better than most people anticipated that he would play this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

G Gabe Vincent (Two-Way)
2021 (MIA): 50 GP, 4.8 PPG, 1.3 APG, 38 FG%, 31 3PT%, 87 FT%, 7.6 PER, 50 TS%, 0.2 WS, .011 WS48

He showed off a decent ability to move the basketball, but Vincent did not shoot nor defend well in the regular season.  He didn’t play much in the playoffs, but he shot the ball well in limited minutes in that time span.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars  (2 stars potential)

F KZ Okpala
2021 (MIA): 37 GP, 2.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 38 FG%, 24 3PT%, 53 FT%, 5.2 PER, 45 TS%, 0.1 WS, .015 WS48

He was able to get some playing time, but after having played well in the preseason, Okpala just did not play very well at all in the NBA this past year.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars  (2 stars potential)

F-C Udonis Haslem
2021 (MIA): 1 GP, 4 PPG, 1 RPG, 100 FG%, 54.6 PER, 100 TS%, 0 WS, .475 WS48

At this point, he’s on the team for his veteran guidance and leadership more so than anything, and the last time he’s played 1000 minutes in a season was during the 2012-13 NBA season.  This year, he played three minutes and then got ejected.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star

C Omer Yurtseven
2021 (MIA): DNP
2021 (G-League): 14 GP, 15.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.4 BPG, 63 FG%, 38 3PT%, 68 FT%, 29.2 PER, 71 TS%, 1.3 WS, .206 WS48

He didn’t play during the NBA regular season this year, but he played very well in the G-League, which enabled him to get signed by the Miami Heat late in this season.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Head Coach:
Erik Spoelstra
2021 (MIA): 40-32, 0-4 in the playoffs
Coaching career: 607-424, 85-58 in his playoff coaching career

Miami Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra had a terrific season last year in 2020, but his team struggled for most of this past season, and they faltered in the playoffs this year, as they got swept in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.
(Photo:
Michael Reaves/Getty Images, via Fansided’s All U Can Heat)

The Miami Heat were expected to make a deep run in the playoffs, but it seems that the rest of the East has caught up to them.  As they toiled during the regular season and barely escaped the play-in tournament by finishing with a 6th seed, they didn’t fare nearly as well as expected in the playoffs, either this year.

Tyler Herro didn’t make as big of a leap in his game as expected, and the Heat really struggled to shoot in the playoffs, as they ended up getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round this year, the same team that they beat in the playoffs last year.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head coach of the Miami Heat
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Miami Heat’s Season:

After they had a dream-like, Cinderella type of season last year, the new season was a disappointment for the 2021 Miami Heat.  They still made it to the playoffs after there were concerns about them potentially falling into the play-in tournament, but they barely managed to evade that to get into the playoffs right away.  Still, the Miami Heat ended up getting swept by their old nemesis, the Milwaukee Bucks, which marked a sour end to their strangely, disappointing season.

The 2020-21 Miami Heat’s Season Grade: D

The Miami Heat’s Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Bam Adebayo
F Duncan Robinson
F Jimmy Butler
G Andre Iguodala
G Goran Dragic

Key Reserves:
G Tyler Herro
G Kendrick Nunn
C Dewayne Dedmon
F Precious Achiuwa

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G-F Max Strus (Two-Way)
G Gabe Vincent (Two-Way)

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F-C Omer Yurtseven
F KZ Okpala
F Udonis Haslem

Impending Restricted Free Agents:
F Duncan Robinson – Expected Back
G Kendrick Nunn – Expected Back

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
Udonis Haslem – Expected Back
Trevor Ariza – Not Expected Back
Victor Oladipo – Not Expected Back
Nemanja Bjelica – Not Expected Back

Players with an Impending Team Option:
G Goran Dragic – Expected Back
G Andre Iguodala – Expected Back
F-C Omer Yurtseven – Expected Back (also on a non-guaranteed contract)

Projected Offseason Plan for the Miami Heat:
The Miami Heat might have enough room to sign one big free agent, or they could sign several mid-tier free agents.  They’ll need more players that can shoot, defend, and also be able to create their own shots at will.

With the Heat getting bounced so early in the playoffs, they’ll likely try to make a big run at some of the top free agents in their bid to land a big-name player to pair him next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, as that would give them a good shot at making another run to get to the NBA Finals next year.

The 2022 Heat’s Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
46-36, 5th in the Eastern Conference in 2022

Expected 2022 Season Outcome:
The Miami Heat may project to be a mid-tier playoff team that could maybe win a round or two in the Eastern Conference next season.

I primarily used Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my rating scale in terms of how I rate players and coaches, the link is here. Thank you for reading.

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