By MICHAEL FRANCA
The 2016-17 NBA season began this week and with it comes a whole new set of narratives. Perhaps most relevant to the city of Miami, is the expectation for the Heat.
This season symbolizes the first year of life without any of the “Big Three.” With LeBron James winning a title in Cleveland, Dwyane Wade choosing to represent his hometown Chicago Bulls, and Chris Bosh’s career being in doubt due to blood clots, the core of one of the most dominant NBA teams in recent memory has disassembled.
As a result, the Heat is expected to enter a transition period in which they struggle. According to NBA experts in Las Vegas, Miami is expected to win about 36 games — 12 less than last year.
Many pundits and prominent news media members have picked the Heat to miss out on the playoffs entirely. ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, for example, bluntly stated that he believes the team “isn’t very good.” This is in stark contrast with what Elhassan thought of last year’s roster — one he picked to reach the NBA finals.
These are just a few examples of the overwhelming negativity surrounding the team’s prospects for this season. There is, however, one rather distinguished voice backing the Heat to surprise some people.
Notorious Boston Celtics fan and self-proclaimed Miami sports hater Bill Simmons has picked the Heat to not only make the playoffs, but be a six-seed in the East.
Simmons’ endorsement, while surprising, is credible. He points to the team’s core of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow as an exciting one with incredible potential – especially on the defensive end.
Though there is no way to know which side of the prediction spectrum will be more accurate, Miami natives will be hoping it falls closer to Simmons’ end.