• The Heat were hoping to make another run to the Finals, largely getting the band back together to take another run at a title with Jimmy Butler carrying the mail. Once again, Miami bobbed and weaved through the regular season, failing to rise up the standings like other true contenders, and decided to make some bold changes mid-season to put the team over the top.

    How’d It Go?

    After a run to the Finals in which the Heat embarrassed a series of favored opponents before running out of gas against Denver, they were hoping to put up a repeat effort and finish the job. The 2022-23 season was proof that they didn’t necessarily need to land at the top of the standings to be a fearsome opponent, and while the Heat were probably planning on making the playoffs outright, there wasn’t too much stress over their eventual playoff berth given the quality of teams in the Play-In tournament. Of course, racking up a seven-game losing streak to fall to 24-23 wasn’t part of the plan, either.

    The Heat dealt with more than their fair share of injuries over the course of the season, with Bam Adebayo and Jaime Jaquez Jr. the only two players on the roster to top the 70-game mark. With so many key pieces moving in and out, including most of Miami’s top scorers, it’s not shocking that they struggled to get out of the mushy middle. The team’s offensive struggles were present even when the gang was all together, prompting the Heat to go out and trade for Terry Rozier at the deadline (after failing to get Damian Lillard over the offseason). He too ended up missing time with injuries, and ultimately the Heat didn’t have time to come together as a unit.

    They were able to make it through the Play-In tournament despite losing Jimmy Butler to a sprained knee along the way, but his absence made Miami an easy lick in the first round for the mighty Celtics. After a season in which so much went right at the right time, the Heat battled through a campaign where the stars never aligned. It wasn’t all bad, as the Heat got to see some real-time development and improvement from Jaquez and Nikola Jovic, but they ended up far short of their final goal.


    Erik Spoelstra is regarded as one of the absolute best in the business, and while the final results this year are disappointing, there isn’t much to lay at his feet blame-wise. The Heat, despite constant injuries to key players, ranked fifth in defensive rating. While elevating youngsters like Jaquez and Jovic into real roles and returning Duncan Robinson to regular status, with occasional appearances from Kevin Love and no true backup center, the Heat had the fifth-best defense in the league. That’s commendable to say the least.

    Offensively it was another story, and while it’s just as easy to pin that on Butler and Tyler Herro missing major action, it was a problem early on. The Heat played at a very slow pace, grinding games down and hanging their hat on defense. It makes sense given the roster, but constant questions persisted about whether Miami could score enough to hang with the league’s elite. It was enough to prompt them to take a swing for Terry Rozier at the deadline, replacing Kyle Lowry with a much more dynamic offensive talent. Even that backfired, as Rozier ended up missing the playoff run with a neck strain. All told, the Heat ranked 21st in offensive rating. They ranked dead last in shot attempts less than five feet from the basket and 18th in 3-point attempts, meaning they had one of the toughest shot diets in the league. That’s somewhat expected when you have guys like Butler and Herro running the show, but proved too problematic in the end.

    Spoelstra will be tasked with fixing that problem, and in his long career he’s shown the ability to adjust time and time again. There’s a reason he has league-wide respect, and even with the Heat leaking oil, there’s not a team out there that wanted to draw them in the postseason. The Heat culture is extremely corny to the non-believers (i.e., anyone who doesn’t root for the Heat), but there’s something to be said about the team under Spoelstra always finding a way to compete regardless of who is or isn’t in uniform.

    The Players

    Jimmy Butler
    SF, Miami Heat
    23-24 MIA 60 60 34.0 6.6 13.2 49.9 6.6 7.7 85.8 1.0 2.4 41.4 20.8 5.3 5.0 1.3 0.3 1.7
    22-23 MIA 64 64 33.4 7.5 13.9 53.9 7.4 8.7 85.0 0.6 1.6 35.0 22.9 5.9 5.3 1.8 0.3 1.6
    21-22 MIA 57 57 33.9 7.0 14.5 48.0 6.9 8.0 87.0 0.5 2.0 23.3 21.4 5.9 5.5 1.6 0.5 2.1

    ADP: 25.1/31.1 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 63/54 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 36/28 (8/9-cat)

    Butler more or less lived up to his reputation as a strong per-game option who will aggravate you with missed games, landing in the third-round per-game while sitting out 22 contests thanks to an assortment of bumps and bruises. He was the same high-level competitor he’s always been, but the math just didn’t work out for fantasy managers this year as he was just a little bit worse across the board. Most notably, Butler shot worse from the field and lost about half a steal per game from his 2022-23 figure, sending him down from the usual top-15 territory. One positive change came in the long-range department, as Butler knocked down his 3-pointers at a career-best clip. Don’t expect him to become a marksman or anything, but it could be a sign of his game starting to change ever so slightly as he ages.

    Things could be pointing to some value on draft day next year, at least. Butler suffered a right MCL sprain in the first Play-In game and was unable to suit up thereafter; without him adding to his Playoff Jimmy legacy, fantasy managers may not be quite as eager to cough up a high pick for him next season. Obviously you’ll have to weigh the risks of Butler declining a little bit more with another year of wear and tear on his body, plus the ever-present injury risk, but a bounce-back season from him would leave lots of room for positive ROI.

    Butler also found the time to do this during the campaign, which should count for something.

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