The 2015 NBA trade deadline was one of the craziest in recent memory, with 37 players moving to different destinations in 11 total deals. The best player in all of these deals was Goran Dragic, who got his publicly demanded wish to be traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Miami Heat. So what impact will he have on the Heat, which are currently just a half game away from being pushed out of a playoff spot?
This deal was certainly expensive for Miami, as they gave up two first-round picks (2017 and 2021) and a solid role player in Danny Granger. But it more than fits Pat Riley’s plans to continue trying to win now, while throwing the future to the wind.
The addition of Dragic quite possibly makes this the most-intriguing 8-games-under-500 team in the history of the NBA. Both Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade are playing good ball and averaging 21.1 PPG each. Then there’s Luol Deng, who’s averaging 14.1 PPG at small forward and adding his usual strong all-around play. And the sudden emergence center Hassan Whiteside (10.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.4 BPG) gives this team a very tough inside game.
Now, you throw Dragic into the mix, who’s averaging 16.1 PPG and 4.0 APG, and you have a truly complete starting five. In fact, it’s the type that will make the sure-to-be-lower-seeded Heat strike fear into whomever they play in the first round.
Dragic makes Miami an even stronger shooting team since he hits 35.3% of his three-pointers and 49.9% of all his shots. Going further, the Slovenian will be taking quite a few minutes from Mario Chalmers, who’s shooting a subpar 28.2% from the three-point line (40.2% overall). Considering that Bosh, Deng and Wade all shoot between 30% and 37% from beyond the arc, this is one of the more-dangerous shooting teams in the league. And it certainly doesn’t hurt having Tyler Johnson coming off the bench and making 61.5% of his three-pointers.
The only problem with Dragic, besides the two first-rounders he cost, is that he can’t shore up the bench. Sure, he helps strengthen it because Chalmers will now be coming off the pine. But Johnson, Chris “Birdman” Andersen and Shabazz Napier aren’t exactly Sixth Man of the Year candidates. Yes, they all can provide solid roles in the rotation, but they still don’t offer the depth of a championship squad, or at least a team that can go past the first round of the playoffs.
Speaking of which, though, it’ll be interesting to see how far Miami could push the number 1 or 2 seed in the East. We already match them this way because they’re eight games behind sixth-place Milwaukee, and we don’t see Dragic leading the Heat to an undefeated record over their final 28 contests.
Of course, the first step will be actually making the postseason, which, as mentioned before, won’t be any small task. Brooklyn, Boston, Detroit, Indiana, Miami and Charlotte are all battling for the final two postseason spots in the East. With Dragic being added to Miami’s team, we can definitely see the Heat grabbing one of the playoff slots, but team chemistry and bench production will determine whether or not they can topple one of the league’s better teams from there.