Three days into training camp, the Heat can take heart in this: Dion Waiters’ weight loss apparently has had the on-court impact everyone hoped.
“He looks really explosive,” guard Goran Dragic said after the team’s morning training camp session at Keiser University. “He looks great. He looks healthy, he looks happy. You can see that on the floor. He’s finally back and he can show what he can do. He can break guys down and get inside the paint and make everybody else better.”
Erik Spoelstra, too, has noticed the change after Waiters lost 15 pounds this offseason.
“He’s moving better, and that’s the biggest thing,” Spoelstra said. “On the third day of camp, when you expect guys’ legs to be fatigued, I thought he moved his best and his quickest, which is a really good sign. We’re all encouraged to see him healthy and in shape. He feels good about his body, as well as he should. He still has some work to do. That’s what training camp is for.”
And Waiters, for his part, is encouraged by the early returns.
“My body feels good,” he said. “I’m happy to be back to myself, be healthy, being able to participate in training camp.”
Jimmy Butler had company Thursday in his 3:30 a.m. on-court work. Heat centers Bam Adebayo and Meyers Leonard also joined in.
“The thought of being outworked was not one I enjoyed,” Leonard tweeted. “Jimmy is setting a new standard and I love it.”
Leonard, noting this was his first on-court work that early in his eight-year career, expanded on that tweet after practice, cracking that “when I catch wind that you’re in your cute little dream and I’m working out at 3:30 that doesn’t sit well with me. That alarm went off at 3:10 this morning. I went down and got a cup of joe and was ready to rock and roll.
“That’s about our leader, Jimmy, setting the tone. Simple as that. Does that mean everybody has to wake up at 3:10 and start working out early? No. I wanted to show up and show him I’m here with you. This is not a joke to me. I want to get better. I want to help us win.... I think that getting pushed outside of your comfort zone is a very good thing.”
The three Heat players finished at 5:25 a.m., went back to the team hotel, then returned for the Heat’s morning practice at 10 a.m. to be followed by a second team session later in the day.
Adebayo said the 3:30 a.m. work is “not intense, just mainly getting up shots, building reps and getting to know your teammates. Me and Meyers and Jimmy don’t know each other that well, We’re starting to figure out who we really are. It was just something we all just came in and thought about, ‘Let’s get up at 2:30,. Jimmy was already doing it, so me and Meyers just jumped in.”
Butler made clear he appreciates the company but doesn’t expect everyone to join him at that hour.
“I like when guys are getting extra work in, no matter if it’s 4 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m. Just love what you do and go about it as a champion.
“They [Adebayo and Leonard] want to be here. They’re happy to work. They’re always smiling. High energy guys. The best thing they do is everything the team asks them to do. Set a good screen, dive for a loose ball. Those are two guys that lead in that way. They got a good vibe about them.”
Adebayo and Leonard said they have no concern about adjusting their body clocks when preseason games begin Tuesday.
Of the Butler-led early-morning workouts, Spoelstra said: “This is an extremely ambitious group. That’s not common. A lot of guys with big dreams and are willing to put in the work behind it. That’s a great quality. Now it’s a matter of everybody putting it to the team.”
JJ REMAINS OUT
Forward James Johnson missed his third consecutive day of training camp, having been banished by the team until he meets conditioning standards.
Forward Kelly Olynyk (bone bruise on right knee) also remains out. And Dragic was given a rest day.
▪ Butler, asked about the defensive potential of a Heat team with himself, Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones Jr.: “Really good. People sleep on Tyler [Herro] too. He gets after it. Tough kid. Obviously, the names you mentioned can guard, but we’ve got a lot of guys that can switch and want that challenge. Guys don’t back down from it. That’s what excites me the most. The thing about defense is you got to want to do it. We have a lot of guys locked in and paying attention going over defensive” concepts.