Miami Heat

Mailbag: Just how important is Dion Waiters to Heat’s success?

The Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.

If you weren’t able to ask this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email me at achiang@miamiherald.com.

Derek: Considering what Dion Waiters can be for this Heat team, is he the most important player on the roster this season?

Anthony Chiang: Depends on how you look at it. If you define “the most important player on the roster” as the one who will be relied on most, that’s Jimmy Butler. If you define “the most important player on the roster” as the one who’s expected to take the biggest jump, that’s either Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow. But if you define “the most important player on the roster” as the one who has the offensive skill set to play as the much-needed secondary leading man next to Butler, that’s Dion Waiters or Goran Dragic.

Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear Waiters must work on his body this offseason and report to training camp later this month at a lower weight and body fat percentage. Based on various photos and videos Waiters has posted on social media this offseason, it looks like he has done just that. After struggling to reach optimal shape last season following January 2018 surgery on his left ankle, Waiters has worked this offseason with David Alexander, who is the owner of DBC Fitness in Miami and has trained Dwyane Wade and a number of professional athletes.

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The goal is for Waiters to eventually get back to where he was before ankle surgery, when he averaged 18.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting to go with 4.8 assists during the Heat’s 30-11 finish to 2016-17. If Waiters is able to even just come close to those numbers, he will be the No. 2 to Butler the Heat is looking for. To take on that role, though, Waiters must be efficient. He has shot better than 42 percent in just two of his seven NBA seasons — 42.4 percent in 2016-17 and 43.3 percent in 2013-14.

@dagreatest33: Will Jimmy Butler ever have his introductory press conference?

Anthony: At some point. Butler’s first news conference as a member of the Heat will, technically, be his introductory news conference. Butler has been traveling around the world since signing with the Heat, so he has been away for the majority of the past two months. And some Heat executives have also been away recently, with the NBA in the middle of its quiet period before things ramp up later this month for the start of training camp. So the parties just haven’t yet been in Miami at the same time to get an introductory news conference done.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.
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