This month we're going to try and talk about the teams the Bulls will be competing against for Eastern Conference seeding. That's a generous criteria that'll include a lot of teams, because the East is still a big morass of mediocre. These are also meant to jibe with the SBNation NBA preview that is going on.
Last year: 37-45 (10th in Eastern Conference)
'15-'16 Vegas Over / Under: 45.5
Additions / Subtractions
In: Gerald Green, Amar'e Stoudemire, Justice Winslow and they're going to sign Michael Beasley for like the 42nd time at some point this season, so we might as well include him proactively.
Out: Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shabazz Napier and Goran Dragic's Brother
This section doesn't tell the whole story. Miami made a splash by acquiring Goran Dragic at the trade deadline last season, and then proceeded to lock him up long-term this summer to a 5-year, $90 million dollar deal which includes a player option after the fourth year. But much more importantly, Chris Bosh appears to have fully recovered from a scary situation in which blood clots were found in his lungs during the second half of last season. Bosh missed the final few months of action, but there was legitimate concern whether his career might be in jeopardy. The fact Bosh is expected to play on Opening Night is truly fantastic news.
|Point Guard||Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Starter||Goran Dragic||Dwyane Wade||Luol Deng||Chris Bosh||Hassan Whiteside|
|Reserve||Mario Chalmers||Gerald Green||Justice Winslow||Josh McRoberts||Amar'e Stoudemire|
|Reserve||Tyler Johnson||Udonis Haslem||Chris Andersen|
On paper, Miami unquestionably has one of the more intriguing starting fives in all of basketball. A Dragic-Wade-Deng-Bosh-Whiteside lineup presents a ton of traditional balance while incorporating unique skill sets from each individual. Miami's depth actually isn't too shabby, either. Winslow could be their ace-in-the-hole. McRoberts is as gifted a big man passer this league has, and is a playmaker Miami's second unit could run offense through. Then there's how they signed Gerald Green for basically nothing (something the Bulls should've at least considered, but alas).
What To Expect
My biggest issue with a team like Miami -- and it's something that holds true when talking about the Bulls, too -- is the contingency of health. In all reality, injuries should be anticipated. And that applies to every team, but it applies doubly to old, oft-injured teams like Miami and Chicago. Dwyane Wade, in all likelihood, just isn't gonna play 80 games. Injury-wise, the entire team is a giant question mark. So while I certainly hope Miami goes all 82 games without a single player missing a single minute due to injury, that's plain unrealistic.
That said, Miami's probably deep enough to weather injury storms and stay afloat in the East. Vegas has them pegged at 45.5 wins, which could basically be anywhere from the No. 4-6 seeds. Personally, I'd take the under on the wins, but I also still think they'll land between that 4-6 range once the playoffs roll around.
Best case scenario: everyone stays healthy, Hassan Whiteside matures and develops into a top-five center, the starting five clicks and they win 50 games while netting a top-three seed.
Worst case scenario: Wade and Bosh can't stay on the floor, Dragic falls of a cliff production-wise and doesn't look the same athletically (he is 29), Whiteside remains a headcase and can't be trusted by Erik Spoelstra and the team misses the playoffs for the second-straight season.
More on Miami from SBNation
How They Play The Bulls
It's basically useless to add any historical context. Miami's much different from what they were a season ago. Although, it's hard to forget that Sunday afternoon game last year where Hassan Whiteside turned into the basketball version of Brock Lesnar and recorded a points-rebounds-blocks triple-double against the Bulls in only 24 minutes of game action. But in all seriousness, Miami's absolutely a threat to the Bulls. Spoelstra is a hell of a coach and will have Miami competing on a nightly basis, no doubt.
[BaB's own Kevin Ferrigan gives his take using his own statistical model, described as: a plus-minus that used two years of data blended with predictive real plus-minus, and minutes projections from Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com]
The Heat are old and their depth isn't very good. Dwyane Wade isn't what he once was and probably won't play a full season. I'm way down on them from the general consensus seems to be. Vegas has their over-under at 45.5 wins, which seems absurdly high. If Chris Bosh can return to his Toronto days, then that's a possibility, but I'm dubious. 39 wins is my best projection.