Don’t @ Me: Alf & Leif’s Hot Takes, Miami HEAT Training Camp

Commentary6 years ago18 min readMiami Heat Beat Staff

Do you like hot sports takes 🔥🔥🔥? Takes so strident and cocksure that you don’t care if they are both ridiculous and wrong? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Miami Heat Beat insider, Leif, and #HeatTwitter President, Alf, are here to bring you their hottest takes on every player the Miami HEAT are bringing to training camp this upcoming season. All 19 to be exact.

Goran Dragic Height: 6-3 | Weight: 190 | Age: 30 | Point Guard

Alf: The Dragon will be unleashed this season. Word to Khaleesi. Without Dwyane Wade dominating the ball and two bigs clogging the paint, Dragic will approach his 2013 production when he was third team All-NBA. This, of course, will sweeten the deal when he’s traded in February for Anthony Davis or some other whale.

Leif: The Dragon has the keys to the kingdom. On top of being the lead playmaker every night, Dragic will be asked to get this group of young players on the same page, running a fast-paced offense. It cannot be ignored that the better Dragic plays, the more valuable of a trade asset he becomes. The HEAT has had opportunities to trade him and has received multiple offers, but they haven’t been close enough in order to facilitate a move for Dragon and his dentures. Not yet.


Luke Babbitt Height: 6-9 | Weight: 225 | Age: 27 | Small Forward

Alf: Should Luke Babbitt make the team, I can see him becoming a cult favorite (for obvious reasons). However, I don’t see him making much of an impact, if any. Nevertheless, at some point in the season, the #FireSpo crowd will use Babbitt’s lack of playing time as reasoning for their undying hatred of Philipino Jackson.

Leif: Although Babbitt has a fully guaranteed contract for 2016-17, I think as training camp unfolds he may be on the roster bubble. He has a skill set that could help Miami as a stretch-four. And if he flashes his stroke in training camp and the preseason, maybe he sticks. I’m not sure he defends well enough to justify cutting a player like Briante Weber, though.


Briante Weber Height: 6-2 | Weight: 165 | Age: 23 | Point Guard

Alf: Watching this guy play defense this summer has given me flashbacks of Pat Beverly. I just pray the HEAT don’t make the same mistake and let this guy slip back into the D-League for the likes of Luke Babbitt. The idea of Weber, Winslow and Richardson swarming opposing backcourts is enough to make me want to sneak into training camp and lock ol’ Luke in the bathroom until roster cuts are over.

Leif: The VCU Bandit has as much to prove in training camp and preseason as anyone. He is fighting for a roster spot. The HEAT love his game and are putting in much work to improve his jump shot. Releasing Weber has the potential to feel a lot like releasing Patrick Beverly in 2010.


Wayne Ellington Height: 6-4 | Weight: 200 | Age: 28 | Shooting Guard

Alf: The former Random Scrub HEAT Killer (#RSHK) will perform the same role in a HEAT uniform during his limited minutes on the court. This is Danny Granger without the pedigree and uncomfortably tight shorts. His suspect defense will not lead to the kind of extended minutes that will allow for patience with his inconsistent shooting. He will be cemented to the bench until he’s included in a deadline deal where we give the Phoenix Suns all of our trash. Eat it Sarver.

Leif: The Random Scrub HEAT Killer 3-point specialist, who was signed before the thought of acquiring Dion Waiters at a minimal cost was an option. I think Ellington will find a role on this team as a player who gets minutes when shots aren’t falling, or in some of the smaller 3-guard lineups Erik Spoelstra might deploy. An expiring contract that can shoot also remains a tradeable asset until February’s trade deadline.

Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat

Udonis Haslem Height: 6-8 | Weight: 235 | Age: 36 | Power Forward

Alf: This will be Udonis Haslem’s unofficial farewell tour. Instead of the usual gifts given to departing legends, opposing arenas will most likely react to UD’s impending retirement by beefing up security. Expect Haslem’s minutes to be limited to when Spoelstra feels like he needs to prove a point to one of his young bigs. Otherwise, Riley’s most trusted soldier will be an extra assistant coach and part-time goon.

Leif: The Captain has the important responsibility of keeping a locker room of short-term contract players together and engaged. Arguably, his greatest responsibility is to help mentor Hassan Whiteside. Enjoy UD while he’s still ready to suit up and show up. He also may slap somebody by season’s end. Just a hunch.


Stefan Jankovic Height: 6-11 | Weight: 234 | Age: 23 | Power Forward

Alf: I don’t know who this person is, and quite frankly, I think the guys at Heat Beat made this name up to throw me off. Not falling for it fellas.

Leif: A developmental project that is likely to be funneled to the Sioux Falls Sky Force. Has a big body with a soft touch from 15-to-18 feet. Projects as a stretch big man, but things will have to go terribly wrong for the team to see Stank (can that be his nickname?) log regular season minutes for the HEAT in ’16-17.


James Johnson Height: 6-9 | Weight: 250 | Age: 29 | Small Forward

Alf: The fellow claimant to the title of “New Danny Granger” along with Wayne Ellington. This guy is gonna’ frustrate the ever-loving crap out of the HEAT fanbase. Why? Because he has the talent and athleticism to start at power forward in a small lineup if Bosh is absent, but he’ll probably end up playing spot minutes instead due to an inconsistent shot and some half-hearted defensive efforts. Maybe he’s actually “New Josh McRoberts” without the hair and pseudo-Magic Johnson passing ability.

Leif: Has all the makings of a player you get highly frustrated with for missing layups and making boneheaded plays on offense but are forced to continue watching play basketball because he defends with maximum effort. The cool kid’s version of Yakhouba Diawara.


Tyler Johnson Height: 6-4 | Weight: 186 | Age: 24 | Shooting Guard

Alf: Poor guy won’t be able to miss a single shot without the fanbase referencing the back end of the huge deal he signed this summer. In fact, nothing he can do will make up for the false notion among NBA fans that the HEAT gave him Dwayne Wade’s money. Of course, that wasn’t the case, but who needs facts? TJ will be a solid backup shooting guard and should stabilize a shaky bench unit.  Unfortunately, that will not be enough for some observers.

Leif: Bumpy got paid. He’s going to play a ton and be asked to contribute at levels never asked of him before. I think he carves out a major role as a combo guard off the bench. One reason to root for TJ is that the better Tyler Johnson becomes, the more Giancarlo Navas (Co-Founder of Miami Heat Beat) is proven wrong. So there’s that.

Rodney McGruder Height: 6-4 | Weight: 205 | Age: 25 | Shooting Guard

Alf: I was told I could find out more about this person by checking the D-League website. I’m not doing that. I saw him play in Summer League. He’s okay, but with the HEAT having more guards than a Bill Parcells dream, his future is in Sioux Falls.

Leif: Early indications this summer were that McGruder had a very real shot of making the final roster this upcoming season. Then they let one shooting guard walk and kept four others. McGruder is somebody Miami wants on the final roster, but at this point, he is on the outside looking in. My prediction is he starts in the D-League and gets called up to finish the season after the HEAT trade away a wing player.


Josh McRoberts Height: 6-10 | Weight: 240 | Age: 29 | Power Forward

Alf: McBob’s will dazzle the fan base with behind the back, through the legs assists. He’ll refuse to take open jumpers. He’ll get a thigh bruise during the second week of the season and miss 65 games, thus rendering him untradeable. Then he’ll sit there. In a suit. And make me berserk.

Leif: Rumors persist that McBob’s was hobbled most of the summer. That doesn’t bode well for his early season availability. He has been underwhelming in Miami for a number of reasons but the one he can control most is his conditioning. The HEAT hasn’t been thrilled with his approach to offseason workouts and I can’t say I blame them. Spoelstra will forever be in love with his skill-set though, as he convinced Riley to sign him from what I have been told.

Willie Reed Height: 6-10 | Weight: 220 | Age: 26 | Center

Alf: My man Willie! The signing of Reed was probably the most exciting thing about the offseason in my opinion, which says a lot about this summer. Reed is going to fastly become a fan favorite with his energy and athleticism. Anyone who watched him patrol the paint as part of the HEAT’s Summer League squad last year knows what I’m talking about. The dude can play and provides a more than capable substitute when Hassan Whiteside is out of the game.

Leif: Reed is another player with a ton to play for this season. The HEAT were persistent in their approach, and attempted to lock up him up long-term over the summer. They wanted to structure a deal that included any level of Bird Rights down the line. Reed and his agent had other ideas, rightfully so. He is on an almost self-mandated, one-year prove it deal with an eye towards a big payday next offseason. I think Willie becomes a fan favorite by season’s end. Dude can play.


Josh Richardson Height: 6-6 | Weight: 200 | Age: 22 | Shooting Guard

Alf: J-Rich should be the starting shooting guard for the Miami HEAT. But the HEAT fanbase is paying some kind of “Big Three” penance to the basketball gods, so Richardson will end up being the backup to Dion Waiters. If this remains the case for the entire season, look for Richardson to garner some Sixth Man of the Year attention.

Leif: Folks around the HEAT have compared J-Rich to past HEAT leader Eddie Jones. If his shooting continues to develop and remains consistent, the sky is the limit for his potential. He has the length and defensive prowess to defend wing players taller than he is. I predict by the end of the season he will be starting for the HEAT, but not at the shooting guard position.

Josh Richardson - Cleveland Cavaliers

Beno Udrih Height: 6-3 | Weight: 205 | Age: 34 | Point Guard

Alf: This guy is a walking insurance policy. At some point in the season Dragic or Tyler Johnson will get kicked in the face and lose all their fronts and Spo will break the glass and unleash Beno. Also, if TJ and J-Rich continue to struggle in the backup point guard role, look for Udrih to get more playing time. He’s steady and reliable like a bran muffin. No frills, just gets the job done.

Leif: If turnovers from the backcourt begin to plague this HEAT team, I expect Udrih to get minutes to help organize the offense. Alf loves Beno, so I’ll leave him to give you the real breakdown on “Bout’ It Buyout Beno.” Yes, I just made up that corny nickname. It’s getting late.


Dion Waters Height: 6-4 | Weight: 220 | Age: 24 | Shooting Guard

Alf: DON’T COME OVER HERE WITH NO TROUBLE, DION! DON’T YOU DARE! I’M WATCHING YOU! Dion friggin’ Waiters … better not start no mess … that’s all I’m gonna say … friggin’ Dion Waiters …

Leif: By my estimation, the leader in the clubhouse to start off-guard alongside Goran Dragic. The HEAT built this roster not expecting to have a player with the offensive talent that Waiters has available to them. That makes for a bit of a logjam at the off-guard position. Like so many others on this one-year wonder roster, he will have all the incentive in the world to play hard and well. I’m seemingly one of the few who is excited about having him in Miami this season.


Hassan Whiteside Height: 7-0 | Weight: 265 | Age: 27 | Center

Alf: Free of the burden of chasing a new contract, Whiteside will also stop chasing blocks and become the reliable rim protector we saw during the second half of last season. I see him taking on a bigger role on offense, solidifying himself as the best center in the East and making his first All-Star team. Hopefully, none of this goes to his head and he doesn’t spend next off-season recording a mixtape with DJ Khaled.

Leif: The max player now comes with maximum level expectations. He has all the tools to become a perennial Defensive Player of the Year. That is the goal. Whiteside will also have the chance to be more involved offensively than ever before, and the chance to make the leap from very good-to-great this season.


Derrick Williams Height: 6-8 | Weight: 240 | Age: 25 | Power Forward

Alf: My pick for this season’s breakout player. I see Williams starting at the power forward position and flourishing on offense with Dragic’s help and proving to be a capable defender alongside Winslow and Whiteside. Should he prove to be even a passable 3-point threat, big things are in store for the former first-round draft pick. That being said, I could easily see my predictions for James Johnson and Derrick Williams flip flop. No way both of them flourish, though, because you know, the “Big 3 Penance.”

Leif: Derrick was pretty honest when he signed here, saying he chose to play in Miami because he saw how it had the tendency to improve the value of players who bought into the HEAT way. But remember what Twitter told you, culture doesn’t matter. My leader to start the season as the big forward next to Whiteside in the starting lineup. Will have opportunities to shoot the ball, create offense for himself and be the finisher on many Dragon fast breaks. Has a real chance to resurrect his career in Miami.


Okaro White Height: 6-8 | Weight: 240 | Age: 25 | Power Forward

Alf: This guy doesn’t even have a picture on so I’ll take this opportunity to warn Dion Waiters to LEAVE THAT TROUBLE IN CLEVELAND, SON! DON’T COME ROUND HERE WITH NO MESS!

Leif: A developmental project that will end up with the Sioux Falls SkyForce. He’s a wing player with length that needs time in the gym. If I had to choose a player you are most likely to never hear about again, it would be Okaro White. Sorry, OW.


Justise Winslow Height: 6-7 | Weight: 225 | Age: 20 | Small Forward

Alf: I expect steady improvement from Justise Winslow. I don’t see a big jump until year three or four, but even a slightly improved Winslow will be fun to watch as he’s slowly given the keys to the franchise. But of course, the fan base won’t be patient and so the murmurs will get louder as his 3-point percentage hovers in the low 30s. These fans are stupid, though. So we should ignore them.

Leif: Winslow is the most important player on the roster. If his offense improves to even league average levels, he will be good enough to be a key starter on a championship team. If his shot improves at the rate so many other parts of his game continue to evolve, the sky is the limit. I predict Winslow finishes the season at the 4 spot next to Whiteside with two shooters and Goran Dragic. He will have the chance to operate at the top of the key with space, which I think will be crucial in him becoming more comfortable in an elevated role. He’s easily the player I am most excited about going into next season.

Chris Bosh Height: 6-11 | Weight: 235 | Age: 32 | Power Forward

Alf: Chris Bosh will never play in the NBA again. This isn’t some devious plan by Pat Riley and his cadre of clandestine league doctors. This is just a common sense from random medical professionals I follow on Twitter without any proof they are actually medical professionals. Simply put, Bosh is on blood thinners, you can’t play basketball on blood thinners. Case closed. Don’t @ me.

Leif: The X-factor this season. If he plays, this team has the potential to become a dangerous playoff contender. I, for months, have thought it was more likely than not that he doesn’t play. Call it a hunch; I wish I didn’t have. But if he plays, even in a more limited role as a floor spacer or reserve big man, having Bosh playing basketball for the HEAT is best case scenario from an on-court perspective. It dramatically changes the outlook on this season.

Unfortunately, even if he does return to the court, the uncertainty surrounding his health situation is an unquestionable cloud that is covering the future of the franchise. I am preparing for the upcoming season as if Bosh will not be available. I hope I am loudly wrong. I would rather have a 100 percent healthy Chris Bosh, free of a relapse of blood clots, than most of the “mini whales” (ie. the non-Durant, Westbrook-level players) that HEAT fans have been clamoring over most of this summer.


And that is all you need to know about all the players who potentially will be starting the season on your favorite professional basketball team. As far as our hot 🔥 takes go, like Alf mentioned before, don’t @ us.