Before the NBA was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Miami Heat were one of the surprise teams of the season. After finishing the 2018-19 campaign with a 39-43 record, Miami rebounded in a big way by trading for Jimmy Butler in the offseason and getting lucky in having Tyler Herro fall to them with the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Combining that with Bam Adebayo playing at a level that earned him his first All-Star nod, and guys like Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn establishing themselves as valuable assets to this team going forward, the Heat quickly became a serious threat in the East. So, it's no wonder that team president Pat Riley is thrilled with Miami's future, which could include another championship trophy down the line.
"I don't have much patience, you know me, and I want to build another championship team," Riley said during a video call posted to the team's website. "We're close. Maybe we need another player, maybe we need less? I don't know. The point is that we're right there and we're a contender, and I'm proud of that."
Before the league announced a postponement of play on March 11, the Heat were fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 41-24 record, with 2.5 games separating them and the third-place Boston Celtics. While Butler has been at the center of the Heat's success, Miami's depth is among the best in the league.
"When we started the season, we thought we had something good," Riley said. "We didn't really know how great Tyler Herro or Kendrick Nunn or Duncan Robinson, Chris Silva at times, a lot of our young guys, Derrick Jones Jr. (were going to be). Having Goran (Dragic), Jimmy Butler, Bam (Adebayo) being around for three years, Meyers Leonard and his infectious personality, Kelly Olynyk...we had a very, very good basketball team, very well-coached. And I think we proved it on the court, night in and night out."
The Heat got it done this season on the strength of their 3-point shooting. Everywhere you turn on this team, someone is capable of knocking down a shot from deep, which led them to have the best shooting percentage from beyond the arc (38.3 percent) this season. Robinson positioned himself as one of the best 3-point shooters in the league as a rookie, shooting a scorching 44.8 percent from deep, which is fourth-best in the NBA this season.
A year ago, if Riley were to say that he wanted to build another championship team, it would've been laughed at considering they were still attached to Hassan Whiteside's bloated contract, Dwyane Wade was on a farewell tour and Adebayo was Whiteside's backup averaging just 8.9 points a game. Now, though, a championship is a very real possibility for this core group of players, and with Riley's persistence on getting what he wants, it'll likely happen sooner rather than later.