Heat projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Miami Heat (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, Miami Heat (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Lowry (Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images)
Kyle Lowry (Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images) /

The Miami Heat finished three wins shy of an improbable NBA championship. Now, Erik Spoelstra will look to rekindle the magic in 2023-24. 

The vibes around the Miami Heat were generally pretty bad last season. The team performed far below expectations in the regular season, plagued by wildly inconsistent 3-point shooting and a stark lack of game-to-game intensity.

Once the playoffs rolled around, the Heat were barely clinging to the No. 8 seed. The Bulls almost won the final play-in game and the No. 1 seed Bucks were expected to swiftly dispose of their old foes.

Well, not so fast. The Bucks stumbled into injury misfortune and Miami won the 3-point variance battle, then the series. Then Miami beat the Knicks in round two. Then Miami went up 3-0 on the Celtics in the conference finals, and ultimately won that series too.

The Heat’s improbable run ended with a gentleman’s sweep loss to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals. A disappointing end for any team, but a remarkable accomplishment for Miami given where the regular season ended. Jimmy Butler deserves credit, but it was a true collective effort. If anything, it served as a strong reminder of Erik Spoelstra’s brilliance in the head coach’s chair.

Miami will now enter the 2023-24 season with higher expectations than your typical 44-win team. Here’s what Coach Spo is working with rotationally.

Miami Heat starting point guard: Kyle Lowry

The Heat moved Kyle Lowry to the bench late last season, but the 37-year-old has the inside track for the starting job barring a sizable roster change. Damian Lillard looms over this entire exercise, but Lowry is the only natural point guard on the roster following Gabe Vincent’s departure in free agency.

Lowry’s advanced age and sharp decline should worry the fanbase. Erik Speolstra has the ability to get creative if Lowry isn’t up to snuff. Jimmy Butler is comfortable as the lead ball-handler. Josh Richardson started in Miami before his departure as part of the Butler trade in 2019. He could join Tyler Herro in the backcourt and push Lowry to the bench.

For now, however, the best bet is Lowry. He’s still quite effective as a table-setter and 3-point bomber who operates with endless levels of cleverness. What Lowry lacks in lateral quickness and prime athleticism, he makes up for with defensive intelligence and a singular knack for frustrating the opposition with well-timed thespian performances.

Lowry will need to boost his 3-point numbers from last season (34.5 percent) but he’s a tried and true threat who will demand attention on the perimeter. He’s comfortable operating without the ball while Butler playmakes and he’s the kind of ultra-savvy vet who Spoelstra tends to get the most out of.

Primary backup point guard: Josh Richardson

Josh Richardson is very much not a point guard, but he has been thrusted into this role with multiple franchises before. He can bring the ball up and initiate simple actions, just don’t expect wizardry with his passing or a high volume of competent self-creation. Richardson is best when situated off the ball and asked to focus on spot-up 3s and finishes at the rim.

That said, Richardson is still a very good on-ball defender who is probably Miami’s best regular season answer to elite ball-handlers. Butler could take over that label in the playoffs but he isn’t giving 100 percent defensive effort until the games really start to count.

Other players who could receive minutes at point guard: Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler