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Jimmy Butler & The Young Heat

Miami’s Young Core Is Surging To the Top Of the Eastern Conference

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By brandon walker | February 5, 2020

One of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season as the calendar turned to 2020 is the emergence of the Miami Heat. The Heat have the 4th best record in the Eastern Conference with a 34-15 record, only a half game back of the Boston Celtics.

The Heat are led by Jimmy Butler who made at the time a questionable move by heading to South beach in a sign and trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for swingman Josh Richardson. Butler had his choice in joining a super team in his hometown of Houston, Los Angeles or returned to Philly but made the decision to join the emerging young core of the Heat. Butler is the quintessential Pat Riley type player to carry on the Heat culture. Hard-nosed, gritty, overachiever who has fought for everything he has in the NBA. Even after getting two max contracts in his career he still plays with the hunger that drives him after sliding in the draft.
This young core consists of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson. Adebayo, a third year center is averaging a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds has emerged as one of the best young big men in the game and his ability to patrol the paint is a throwback to Alonzo Mourning led teams of the late nineties. Herro, a rookie also from Kentucky is averaging 13 points a game while shooting 41 percent from the three point line.

Nunn is a 2018 undrafted free agent out of The University of Oakland spent last season with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the G-League and averaged 19 points per game mainly coming off the bench for the Warriors affiliate. This season, however he earned a spot in the starting lineup and responded by winning NBA Player of the Week and Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of November. Robinson is also a undrafted free agent who also spent time in the G-League and also took part in The Basketball Tournament in 2018 playing on a team called the Big X which consists of former Big Ten basketball players. Robinson is shooting 44 percent from beyond the arc and he is almost a shoe in to participate in the three point shootout during All-Star Weekend next month. Veterans such as Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk, and Myers Leonard are making contributions off the bench as well to help out what I believe is the deepest team in the league.
One more key to Miami’s success is head coach Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra s does not get the credit that he deserves for his coaching acumen because he had Dwayne Wade, Chris bosh and LeBron James on those teams in the early 2010’s. He is one of the best coaches in the NBA in establishing a culture that allows younger players to develop and at the same time hold veteran players accountable. Spoelstra should be runaway coach of the year at this point in the season.

The interesting thing is how the young core fares when the calendar turns to May in a newly competitive Eastern Conference. With the recent addition of Jae Crowder and Final’s MVP Andre Iguodala combined with the Heat culture the sky is the limit. 

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Follow me on Twitter: @bwalkerdadon . Instagram: @bwalkerdadon

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