Hoop Dreams: How The Miami Heat Will Win the 2017 NBA Title

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Welcome to Hoop Dreams, a season preview unlike any other. The premise is simple: We’ll be providing 30 of these fictional forays because it simply stinks that only one team can win the title each year. The list of contending teams seems to shrink with each succeeding campaign, and we wanted to provide something to those fans who only get to dream of Larry O’Brien during the offseason. Before October, every team can win the NBA title. Don’t believe us? Then keep reading. – Ed

It feels like only yesterday that we all either broke our wrists dismissively wanking to “Not two, not three, not four…” or ran to the local mall’s Champs store to purchase new Miami Heat gear and celebrate “arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball.” In reality, though, the memory of the Big 3 has faded as the stickers on our new caps curled. LeBron James finally delivered an NBA title to Believeland (after the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead) and Dwyane Wade joined the Chicago Bulls as the result of a tense, even heartbreaking offseason. Only Chris Bosh remains with the Heat today. Kind of. He’s cashing paychecks, if that counts. (Although Bosh’s situation is actually heartbreaking compared to D-Wade simply leaving because he didn’t feel appreciated.)

But you’re not dumb. You don’t need a history lesson. This is about looking ahead, and today’s Heat roster looks a hell of a lot different and has not two, not three, not four … question marks. And as any aspiring beat reporter can readily tell us, there’s hardly a Big 1 on this team, let alone a Big 3. Who cares, though? Not the Heat Bros, that’s for sure.

Haha, crushin’ it, Heat bros! When’s their 30 for 30 coming?

Forget the Big 3, because they’ve probably already forgotten Miami, since this is a “What have you done for me lately?” business. Also, “Big 3” is just a dumb, boring, lazy nickname, as “The Heatles” was always much more endearing and fun, but never quite caught on. So, let’s examine this Heat team’s road to the franchise’s next O’Brien trophy by offering some new nicknames for this roster of talented stars-in-waiting.

The Fast Five

If one Heatle is excited that Old Man Wade hit the road to Chicago, it’s Goran Dragic, who, despite being 30, has the opportunity to become the team’s new scoring star. He wants this team’s offense to be FAST FAST FAST, and with South Beach now free of Wade’s snail-paced bag of bones, Dragic could soon be the name on the back of every Heat bro’s white-on-white jersey.

Yes, the Heat reportedly tried to trade him for Rudy “Trade Block” Gay, but Erik Spoelstra killed that drama. And if the Heat are going to move Dragic (or any starter, for that matter), you’d have to think Pat Riley would be working the phone for a star. Of course, stars aren’t exactly growing on trees in Adam Silver’s unbalanced league, but Riley gets things done that no one sees coming. So, let Dragic run wild and then flip the newly-wealthy Tyler Johnson and picks and stuff for – just spitballing here – DeMarcus Cousins.

Boogie’s Knights

So clever! If there’s one fact that we can all accept for this season, it’s that as long as Cousins has a pulse, he will be the subject of trade speculation. And because the Heat are desperate for a proven star, and because Miami always needs to have a superstar per the NBA’s bylaws, and because Miami always gets what it wants, let’s just assume Cousins ends up there in a deal that makes little sense. Josh McRoberts, Rodney McGruder, and a second-round pick for Cousins and Gay? Sure!

Cousins and Hassan Whiteside will be so imposing and frightening next to each other that opponents will slip and fall in puddles of their own pee. Dwight Howard will claim that he hurt his back farting on his teammates so he won’t have to be tossed around like a ragdoll in the paint. The Heat’s defense and speed will help Miami steamroll the East en route to a Finals thrashing of the Warriors, who won’t win even one game, let alone blow a 3-1 lead. In fact, with this duo, the Heat may be called The Nice 69 because of the insanely low amount of points they surrender per game.

The Justise League

But let’s forget about Cousins inevitably joining the Heat and focus on the talent currently on the roster. Like Dragic, Justise Winslow wants the chance to be the star, and he’s certainly talking the talk. The second-year small forward already thinks he’s an NBA veteran and will see his playing time increased significantly this season. He wants to be Kawhi Leonard, and the Heat absolutely, desperately want that to be true. Winslow will shock everyone by developing into an MVP-caliber player in a matter of weeks, and also serving as the Heat’s biggest threat from three-point land.

When Wade’s Bulls visit Miami for the first time since his contentious breakup, Winslow will drop 60 on them and the Heat will win by at least 40. The thrashing will be so humiliating for Wade that he will drop to his knees and shout, “JUSTISE!!!” like Jay in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Get it together, Wade, you’re supposed to be a star.

Hassan Whiteside and the Rippers

Let’s pretend that the Heat won’t land Cousins in a sweetheart deal that somehow won’t get Chris Paul’d, and just put this season on the back of the big, bad Whiteside. Alongside the speedy Dragic and suddenly unstoppable Winslow, Whiteside will finally become the inside menace that everyone expects him to be, and his attitude will be so calm and cool that Miami’s biggest fan will return to his courtside seats and bring back that Big 3 swagger.

Of course, if the Heat go with this team nickname, all games must be broadcast in black and white, and have a soft rock soundtrack provided by John Stamos.

Three Men and a Babbitt

For most championship teams, it’s all about that one secret weapon who comes off the bench and terrorizes opponents while the stars rest. This season, that man will be Luke Babbitt, as he will channel the soul and three-point talent of Ray Allen. He’ll be Big Shot Babb, and his improbable success will earn him a max deal from Sacramento or Minnesota (as long as he’s not the centerpiece in the Cousins deal that is probably most definitely happening).

The Lost Boys

If you’re a fan of dumb luck in sports, the Heat will succeed because of their bargain reclamation projects. Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams will destroy their reputations and become stars for the Heat, causing GMs all over the league to throw a stack of papers in the air out of frustration. “How does Pat Riley keep doing this,” some in-over-his-head GM will ask before handing over a bag of cash to Josh McBob because he sure looked like he’s ready to be a star center in his four minutes of Finals action.