Miami Heat

Predictions for Heat season: Bam Adebayo will have career-best season as starting center

The start of the NBA season is here. It’s time to predict how it will go.

The Miami Heat opens the regular season Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena, and then hits the road for its first back-to-back set of the season — Saturday vs. Milwaukee Bucks and Sunday vs. Minnesota Timberwolves. The Heat plays 13 of its first 21 games on the road.

Here are five predictions for the Heat’s season, which will probably end up being wrong …

Jimmy Butler will get some MVP consideration: Butler won’t get the award, but his name will be mentioned among those on the list of candidates at the end of the regular season. As the Heat’s leading man, he’ll anchor one of the NBA’s top defenses and also serve as the No. 1 option on offense. If Miami can finish among the top four in the Eastern Conference, Butler should at least get some consideration for the award.

Bam Adebayo will average a doube-double: Adebayo’s career high in points and rebounds is 8.9 and 7.3, respectively. Both came last season. But with the extra minutes and opportunities that come with being the Heat’s starting center, Adebayo will take advantage and set career highs in both categories. Adebayo will average 12 points and 10 rebounds this season.

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Goran Dragic will finish as the Heat’s second-leading scorer behind Butler: Sure, Dragic looks like he will be used off the bench this season. But that doesn’t change the fact that Dragic, 33, is still one of Miami’s top offensive players. He averaged 17.3 points just two seasons ago and 20.3 points three seasons ago, and he will thrive in a reserve role against other reserve guards.

Tyler Herro will have his rookie moments: This isn’t a bold prediction, but it’s meant for those ready to proclaim him the next Devin Booker after a strong preseason. Herro is going to score points and he will impress with his outside shot, but defense is still a concern for the rookie. The question is: Does the Heat trust Herro’s defense enough to consistently put him out there down the stretch of games?

The Heat will win 46 games and finish fourth in the East: While the Heat finished with a 39-43 record last season and has missed the playoffs in three of the past five seasons, the addition of a four-time All-Star such as Butler and improvement from young players such as Adebayo and Justise Winslow will help push Miami to a 46-36 record this season. The 76ers, Bucks and Celtics will finish in front of the Heat in the East standings.

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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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