The 2021-22 Miami Heat in Review

June 8th, 2022

By Alan Lu

The Miami Heat had a very good, bounce back season, and they were on a mission to prove that they were still one of the best teams in the NBA.  The 2021-22 Miami Heat managed to win 53 games in the regular season, which was good enough to earn them the first seed in the East due to strong team play led by stars Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and company, and coaching from head coach Erik Spoelstra.  While they were dealt with some injuries in the postseason, the Miami Heat were able to hold off a feisty, Trae Young-led, Atlanta Hawks team to win in 5 games in the first round.  

They also managed to defeat a superstar-laden, Philadelphia 76ers team that were led by Joel Embiid and James Harden, and they dismantled them in impressive fashion by winning the series in 6 games to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals.  The Miami Heat then battled a very tough, Boston Celtics’ team that were led by superstar forwards, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, that also had the 2022 DPOY in Marcus Smart.  The Heat took them to seven games and won a memorable Game 6 that was led by Jimmy Butler’s heroic, valiant 47-point performance, but the Miami Heat came up just short in Game 7, and they lost to the Boston Celtics in the decisive final game of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.

Key Players:

Jimmy Butler had a terrific season with the Miami Heat, and he scored 47 points in a memorable Game 6 win against the Boston Celtics to force a deciding Game 7 in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
(Photo:
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images, via The New York Times)

Jimmy Butler
2021-22 (MIA): 21.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.6 SPG, 48 FG%, 23 3PT%, 87 FT%, 59 TS%, 23.6 PER, 9.2 WS

He is a smart, skilled swingman that had a tremendous season with the Miami Heat this year.  Butler did a great job of driving to the hoop to score the basketball, and he would efficiently score and get many free throws to help his team.  He also showed off a nice mid-range shot, and he was able to make some really difficult, seemingly impossible to make shots throughout the season, especially in the playoffs.  He also thrived as a playmaker and defender, and he did a great job of making plays on both ends of the floor.

Butler had a signature game by scoring 47 points in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics to help his team get the win to help them to stay alive for Game 7.  While his team eventually ran out of gas and lost in 7 games to the Celtics, Butler proved himself to be one of the best players in the NBA, and he had a memorable, legendary, career defining Game 6 performance to showed his tenacity, heart, and the will to win that makes him a superstar in the NBA today.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 4 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting small forward on the Miami Heat

Bam Adebayo had a solid season for the Miami Heat this year.
(Photo:
Sam Navarro/USA Today Sports, via Heat Nation)

Bam Adebayo
2021-22 (MIA): 19.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 56 FG%, 0 3PT%, 75 FT%, 61 TS%, 21.8 PER, 7.2 WS

He is an athletic, energetic big man that thrived as an interior player and provided sound playmaking skills for his team this year.  He didn’t get as many assists as last year, and he also missed some time due to injury this past season.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 3.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting center on the Miami Heat

Kyle Lowry had a solid season with the Miami Heat this year and he proved to be very dependable during the regular season, but he also ran into injuries and struggled with his jump shot on his way back during the postseason.
(Photo:
Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports via Reuters, via The Globe and Mail)

Kyle Lowry
2021-22 (MIA): 13.4 PPG, 7.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 44 FG%, 38 3PT%, 85 FT%, 60 TS%, 15.0 PER, 6.4 WS

He is a tough, tenacious point guard that played very well in his role for the Miami Heat this year.  He struggled a bit with injuries and his jump shot in the postseason, but Lowry turned in a good, all-around season for his team.

2022 Season Grade: B
Projected 2023 Rating: 3 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting point guard on the Miami Heat

Tyler Herro had a very good season, and he also won the Sixth Man of the Year award.
(Photo:
Marta Lavandier/Associated Press, via Bleacher Report)

Tyler Herro
2021-22 (MIA): 20.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 45 FG%, 40 3PT%, 87 FT%, 56 TS%, 16.2 PER, 3.8 WS

He is a very talented, skilled sharpshooting wing player that thrived as a shooter and scorer on offense.  Herro also did a good job of distributing the basketball, and he was able to win the Sixth Man of the Year award this season.  On the downside, he struggled with injuries and with his jump shot in the playoffs, as he will need to defend better, and he can still be too streaky at times.  Still, Herro turned in a very good season overall, and he really strengthened Miami’s bench this year.

2022 Season Grade: A-
Projected 2023 Rating: 3 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Sixth man on the Miami Heat

P.J. Tucker
2021-22 (MIA): 7.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 48 FG%, 41 3PT%, 74 FT%, 59 TS%, 11.3 PER, 5.0 WS

Tucker is a tough, physical forward that is a 3 and D role player for the Miami Heat.  He shot the ball very well, and he also played good defense for his team this year.  He’s not a high volume scorer, but he did team things well on the season.

2022 Season Grade: A-
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting power forward on the Miami Heat

Max Strus
2021-22 (MIA): 10.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 44 FG%, 41 3PT%, 79 FT%, 61 TS%, 12.7 PER, 3.6 WS

Strus did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he was one of the best role players on Miami’s team this year.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Starting shooting guard on the Miami Heat

Victor Oladipo
2021-22 (MIA): 12.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.9 RPG, 48 FG%, 42 3PT%, 74 FT%, 61 TS%, 16.8 PER, 0.4 WS

Oladipo missed most of the regular season due to injury, but he really excelled as a shooter and scorer when he came back.  He didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well in the postseason, but he was able to give the Heat an athletic, energetic scorer off the bench.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Side note: Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Caleb Martin
2021-22 (MIA): 9.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 51 FG%, 41 3PT%, 76 FT%, 61 TS%, 14.8 PER, 4.0 WS

Martin had a terrific season with the Heat this year, and he improved immensely compared to last season.  He shot the ball really well, and he also thrived as a defender, as he played well in a 3 and D role in the NBA this year.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 2.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat

Other Notable Players:

Gabe Vincent

He excelled as a score-first, backup point guard on the Miami Heat this season.  He shot the ball much better, and he showed much improved playmaking and defensive skills this year.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat

Omer Yurtseven

He had a very good rookie season, and he thrived as an interior player off the bench for the Miami Heat this year.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on the Miami Heat

Duncan Robinson

The veteran, sharpshooting forward saw a decrease in his numbers this past season as his shooting percentages also dropped a bit, and he saw a significant decrease in postseason minutes this year. 

Robinson is still a playable player in the playoffs, and he can be a terrific shooter that stretches the defenses, especially when he gets in a rhythm.  Defense has been an issue for him over the years though, and he lost some playing time in the postseason, as he hasn’t been the lights out shooter this year that he was before.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars

Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Miami Heat

Dewayne Dedmon

He played very well this past season, as he thrived as a rim protector for the Miami Heat, and he also showed off a solid three-point that he didn’t seem to showcase much of last year.  His playing time in the playoffs was sporadic, but Dedmon proved himself to be a solid backup center when he was called upon to play on the court.

2022 Season Grade: B+
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Miami Heat

Markieff Morris

Early on in the season, Morris had a substantial role on the Heat’s team before a scuffle and a blow from Denver Nuggets’ superstar Nikola Jokic injured and derailed Morris’ season, which led Morris to be on injured reserve for a handful of months this year. 

As Miami had a deep team, he had a hard time working himself back into the team’s rotation and he barely played in the playoffs, but Morris is a solid veteran big man that can knock down shots and provide some energy and hustle off the bench.

2022 Season Grade: C
Projected 2023 Rating: 2 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Side note: Markieff Morris will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Other Players on the Roster:

Haywood Highsmith

He is an end of the bench player on the Miami Heat.  He was able to receive some playing time, and he is an athletic swingman that projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA.  He received his first playing time in the NBA in three years, but he wasn’t able to play much on a deep, Miami Heat team.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot and he’ll likely have to prove that he has an elite skill that can consistently earn him minutes, but on a worse team, Highsmith could potentially land a rotation spot elsewhere in the NBA.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars

Projected 2023 Role: Fringe rotation player on the Miami Heat

Mychal Mulder

He is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball.  He had his best season with last year’s 2020-21 Golden State Warriors team, and he was named to the World roster in the 2021 Rising Stars challenge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rising_Stars_Challenge#2021_roster).  Mulder didn’t play much in the NBA this year, and he didn’t shoot particularly well in limited minutes, but he’s proven that his jump shot can certainly land him a roster spot in the NBA.

2022 Season Grade: D-
Projected 2023 Rating: 1.5 stars

Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Ja’Vonte Smart

He didn’t play much or shoot particularly well in the NBA during his rookie year, but Smart proved himself to be a capable scorer, facilitator, and defender at the G-League level.  He will definitely need to improve his outside shot, but his ability to score and defend could enable him to land a roster spot on the Heat or another team in the NBA next season.

2022 Season Grade: D
Projected 2023 Rating: 1 star (1.5 stars potential)

Projected 2023 Role: Fringe roster player on an NBA team

Udonis Haslem

Haslem is an elder statesman of the NBA, and he is the oldest, active player in the game today.  At this stage of his playing career, he’s more or less like an assistant coach in uniform.  Haslem has last played 500 or more minutes in an NBA season seven years ago, which for him was the 2014-15 NBA season with the Miami Heat. 

He’s a tough, physical bruiser that serves an enforcer and mentor role on the team, and he is there to instill leadership, competitiveness, and toughness, amid other virtues that Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, and the Miami Heat wish to instill and impart onto their team.

2022 Season Grade: C+
Projected 2023 Rating: 0.5 stars
Projected 2023 Role: End of the bench player on the Miami Heat

Head Coach:

Miami Heat’s head coach, Erik Spoelstra had a very good season this year, as he lead his team to win 53 games in the regular season and to getting the first seed in the East, and they also reached the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. In addition, the Heat managed to get a superb, 47-point Game 6 performance from Jimmy Butler in a win against the Celtics to force a Game 7, and they helped develop numerous undrafted players that became solid role players for their team.
(Photo:
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Erik Spoelstra
2021-22 (MIA): 53-29, 11-7 in the 2022 NBA Playoffs

He did a great job of leading his team throughout the season this year.  The Miami Heat were a tough-as-nails, gritty team that played sound, smart basketball, and they were a cohesive team that played together.  Spoelstra led the Heat to get the 1st seed in the East and they really over-achieved by doing so over other teams (Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Brooklyn) that had mega-stars (Giannis, Embiid, Harden, Durant) on their roster.

Spoelstra did a lot with his roster, as he really helped maximize the talents of all of his team’s rotation players, and he was able to get really good seasons out of a lot of undrafted players such as Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon, and Omer Yurtseven.  Spoelstra helped get his team to the Eastern Conference Finals before they fell short and lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics, and Spoelstra, Butler, and the Miami Heat had a very good season overall.

2022 Season Grade: A
Projected 2023 Rating: 4 stars
Projected 2023 Role: Head Coach of the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat’s Projected 2022-23 Rotation:
C Bam Adebayo
F P.J. Tucker
F Jimmy Butler
G Max Strus
G Kyle Lowry
_________________
G Tyler Herro
F Caleb Martin
G Gabe Vincent
F Duncan Robinson
C Omer Yurtseven

The Miami Heat’s Picks in the 2022 NBA Draft:
#27

The Miami Heat’s Projected 2023 Win-Loss Record:
53-29, 2nd in the Eastern Conference

Their Projected Offseason Plan:

The Miami Heat are projected to be capped out when they will be entering the offseason, and so they will have to maneuver by making trades, drafting well, and finding bargains amongst undrafted rookies and veterans in free agency.

They will need to find out if P.J. Tucker will accept his player option and opt into his contract for next year.  Otherwise, they may have to replace him, as it will then be uncertain if they will be able to afford paying him in free agency.  They will also need to make a choice if they want to bring back other veterans such as Victor Oladipo, Dewayne Dedmon, and Markieff Morris, and Caleb Martin is slated to be a restricted free agent, but they will be able to match any team’s offers for Martin.  Also, the Heat will be expected to bring back Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Udonis Haslem for next season.

In the meantime, the Heat shot the ball well, and they thrived at passing and defending this season, but they could look to add more scorers and rebounders.  They also will need players that can play well alongside Jimmy Butler and fit in well into the Heat culture. Overall, the Miami Heat had a terrific season, and they have built a very good team and culture that has enabled them to thrive in the past several seasons. They could look to add more offensive firepower to bolster their team to help their title chances for next season. In the meantime, the Miami Heat will be entering next season as contenders for the 2022 NBA title, and they will be able to bring back most of their team for next year.

This write-up was written before the 2022 NBA Draft and before the start of free agency.  I went to No Trade Clause and Basketball-Reference for research purposes.  Thanks for reading.

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