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Sports Authority

Yturralde: Heat are off to a blazing start

| Tuesday, November 19, 2019

This season, the Miami Heat are emerging as a dominant force in the NBA. With a 9-3 record, they are currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference. Since Lebron James’s departure from Miami, the Heat have only made the playoffs twice. After adding a new, young and dynamic core, the team is geared up for a successful season. At the helm for the Heat are long time president Pat Riley and legendary coach Erik Spoelstra, also known as Coach Spo.

Although the Heat did not break any trade records this offseason, they acquired a variety of new pieces to complement their already existing ones. On the list of notable additions are: Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson.

Jimmy Butler was traded to Miami as part of a four-team deal, involving the Philadelphia 76ers (his former team), LA Clippers and Portland Trailblazers. Miami agreed to trading young center Hassan Whiteside to Portland and to a four-year $142 million deal with Butler. So far this season, Butler has added both experience and an indescribable X factor to Miami’s lineup. The 30-year-old is averaging 18.4 PPG and 7.2 APG so far this season.

With the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Miami selected Tyler Herro. It is hard to believe that 13 teams passed up on the young guard out of Kentucky. Herro, a Milwaukee native, was voted best shooter in the draft by his fellow draftees. The Heat have entirely integrated the flex-shooting guard into their starting rotation. Bringing a versatile set of skills to the table, Herro has caught the attention of many, averaging 13.3 PPG and 4.5 RPG through the first 11 games of his rookie season. 

Also making a splash for the Heat is undrafted rookie, Kendrick Nunn– or as some are coming to know him, ‘Nunn Better.’ Nunn played college basketball at Illinois for three seasons and then transferred to Oakland University for his senior year. In 2018, Nunn went undrafted and was signed by the Golden State Warriors to play on their affiliated G League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. After a successful season, averaging 19.3 PPG in Santa Cruz, Pat Riley reached out and made a deal to sign the 24-year-old. Since the trade, Nunn has been a key weapon in Coach Spo’s arsenal, proving that he deserves a starting spot. He scored a total of 112 points in his first five games alone. That is the most points scored by an undrafted rookie in NBA history. In addition to this, the young Heat player is averaging 17.8 PPG so far this season.

Another undrafted Heat rookie this year is former Michigan star Duncan Robinson. The now-Heat player started off his college career playing at Williams College, a Division III school in northern Massachusetts. After a stellar freshman year, the Wolverines quickly scooped up the young star. Robinson, similar to Nunn, went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Heat signed Robinson to a Summer League contract and, after keeping pace with the team, they chose to sign him to a first team deal. Robinson has proven to be lethal from three point range. He is averaging 9.7 PPG and shooting 40.6% from three through his first nine games with the Heat. 

Combined with returners like Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, these four key new pieces may make the Miami Heat a household NBA name once again. This year, the team has come to rely on its depth. On most nights, there are five or six players scoring double digit points. 

After the end of the Lebron era, Heat fans were unsure of the future. Holding on to Coach Spo and Pat Riley was reassuring, but reaped no fruit over the last five seasons. Now, reenergized by the dynamic chemistry of this new roster, the Heat are a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. The team’s next game is against the Cleveland Cavaliers and will take place in downtown Miami at the American Airlines Arena on Wednesday. Tune in, because this Heat team isn’t here to take part, they are here to take over.

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