The Miami Heat’s relatively quiet offseason isn’t winning any of the experts over.
Less than a week after ESPN’s analytics department led by Kevin Pelton predicted the Heat to finish with 44.8 wins, which would have them finishing as the sixth seed again in the Eastern Conference, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook on Sunday set the Heat’s over/under line for wins at 41.5, which projects Miami seventh in the East.
The Heat won 44 games and the Southeast Division last season and is bringing back basically the same team after re-signing Wayne Ellington and Derrick Jones Jr. this summer and adding undrafted rookies Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson on two-way contracts.
ESPN’s projections have the Heat finishing behind, in order, the Toronto Raptors (55.1 wins), Boston Celtics (53.2), Philadelphia 76ers (47.8), Indiana Pacers (45.7), Milwaukee Bucks (45.2) and just ahead of the Washington Wizards (42.6) and Detroit Pistons (39.4)
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Pelton wrote the Heat’s win total projection would actually “take a slight hit” if Dwyane Wade decides to return for a 16th season.
The Westgate SuperBook, meanwhile, tabbed the Heat’s win total to be less than Boston (57.5), Toronto (54.5), Philadelphia (54.5), Indiana (47.5), Milwaukee (46.5), Washington (44.5) and ahead of Detroit (37.5) among the East’s eight projected playoff teams.
▪ Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who last week shared the news he and coach Erik Spoelstra had a positive four hour meeting last month after Whiteside expressed his frustrations over playing time last season, called his trip to Africa last week “life changing.”
“From building houses with kids, from seeing kids play basketball, from taking selfies with all the kids from all the world, it’s a dream come true,” Whiteside told the Heat’s website. “I never thought kids in Africa or anybody in Africa would know my name. It takes me back. It’s crazy. I was surprised by how many Whiteside jerseys I saw. Heat Nation was in Africa. That’s crazy.”
Whiteside finished with 11 points (on 5-for-5 shooting), six rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks in nearly 19 minutes off the bench for Team World, which beat the Joel Embiid-led Team Africa 96-92.
“Them guys play real physical. It was more physical than a playoff game,” Whiteside said. “It was competitive. Guys were playing full defense on people and it really came down to the wire. You saw the passion. I hope the fans enjoyed it.”
▪ Second-year center Bam Adebayo, meanwhile, hosted his first basketball camp for kids over the weekend at Riviera Prep in Kendall and called the experience a positive one.
“It turned out better than I expected,” said Adebayo, who turned 21 last month. “I’ve always been one of those guys that wanted to give back, just be in the community. Just because I play basketball doesn’t mean I don’t have a heart. Just taking time to be with these kids, letting them see who Bam actually is instead of just that guy on the court. I’ve was in there laughing and joking with them, just having fun. I wish I would have a had chance to go to an NBA player’s camp when I was a kid. Where I’m from it just doesn’t happen. That’s my next mission. Do something where I’m from [in North Carolina]. Do something here and then try something in my community.”
Adebayo, who shot only 36.3 percent from the field in five summer league games, but averaged 14 points and 9.3 rebounds in those contests, said he hasn’t really given himself much of a break this summer.
Shortly after returning home from the team’s summer league tour through Sacramento and Las Vegas, Adebayo said he got bored and was back in the gym working out with the Heat’s staff soon after.
“It isn’t me to just sit in the house,” Adebayo said. “We’re in there everyday Monday through Friday. [Heat assistant coach Juwan [Howard] left for Africa last week with Hassan. So lately it’s pretty much been Chris Quinn, Eric Glass. But Spo is in there sometimes and pretty much our training staff everyday.”
Adebayo said he’s begun to really feel at home in South Florida, often taking bike rides on the beach or heading over to Angelina’s in Midtown Miami for waffles in the morning. Last month he took his mother and sister to Universal Studios in Orlando.
“We rode The Mummy like four times,” said Adebayo, who still lives in the same apartment building with his mother near AmericanAirlines Arena (she lives in a different apartment on a different floor). “The last time I had gone with my Mom before that was when I was like 4. This time I got to take her to Disney. Funny how life works.”