‘Better have some versatility,’ Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra talks about what his expectations for the team
After finishing last season with the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference, the expectation around the NBA is the Miami Heat is in for a similar outcome this season.
The results of the NBA’s preseason annual survey of general managers was released Wednesday, with just 3 percent predicting the Heat will be a top four team in the East. That 3 percent believes Miami will finish fourth.
The Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards all finished ahead of the Heat in the voting, putting Miami seventh in the rankings.
The general managers responded to 49 questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel.
The Heat had a player or coach receive at least one vote from an opposing general manager in seven different categories. Here’s a rundown …
▪ Josh Richardson was among those who received votes for player most likely to have a breakout season in 2018-19. Richardson averaged 12.9 points and emerged as one of the top perimeter defenders in the league last season. Denver’s Jamal Murray (20 percent), Los Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram (10 percent), Boston’s Jayson Tatum (10 percent) finished as the top three in this category.
▪ Erik Spoelstra finished with the fourth-most votes (7 percent) for head coach who is the best manager/motivator of people. Only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (47 percent), Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Boston’s Brad Stevens received more votes than Spoelstra.
▪ Spoelstra also received 7 percent of the vote for head coach who makes the best in-game adjustments. He ended up tied for fifth with Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers in this category. Stevens (53 percent), Popovich (13 percent), Dallas’ Rick Carlisle (10 percent) and Utah’s Quin Snyder (10 percent) finished ahead of Spoelstra.
▪ Spoelstra received votes in a third category, coach who has the best defensive schemes. Snyder (33 percent), Stevens (30 percent), Popovich (13 percent), Kerr (7 percent) and Minnesota’s Tom Thibodeau (7 percent) were voted as the top five in this category.
▪ Derrick Jones Jr., who is known as “Airplane Mode” for his incredible leaping ability, received votes for most athletic player. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook won the category with 48 percent of the vote.
▪ James Johnson finished tied with Golden State’s Draymond Green for fourth in the category of toughest player in the NBA. Johnson and Green received 10 percent of the vote. Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (33 percent), Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (13 percent) and Boston’s Marcus Smart (13 percent) finished ahead of Johnson.
▪ Udonis Haslem received votes for best leader. James (30 percent), Houston’s Chris Paul (27 percent), Golden State’s Stephen Curry (23 percent), Boston’s Al Horford (7 percent) and Portland’s Damian Lillard (7 percent) finished as the top five in this category.
▪ It’s also worth noting that the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA championship again. In the poll, 87 percent of general managers picked the Warriors to win the title.