The Miami Heat were the surprise of the 2019-20 NBA season. On their run through the Eastern Conference all the way to their sixth Finals appearance as a franchise, the Heat defied expectations, beat the odds, and made some league history.

After sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the postseason, vanquishing the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, and out-dueling the Boston Celtics in the conference finals, the Heat became the first fifth seed in league history to make it to the Finals.

Virtually no one had the Heat projected as a legitimate championship contender when the season started. When it came to the Eastern Conference conversation, it seemed like almost every other contender was mentioned before Miami. Either it was finally going to be the Bucks’ year, or the new-look Sixers or defending-champion Raptors were going to advance out of the East. The Heat were largely an afterthought. Such outside noise never bothered the Heat though, as they maintained internal confidence. They played hard, were well-coached and executed excellently, and as a result, they were the last team standing in the East. 

The season was a memorable one for Miami, but they ultimately fell short of their main goal of winning a championship and thus they could undergo some changes in the name of improvement over the offseason. Like most teams, Miami enters the offseason facing some important questions. Here’s a look at three of the most pressing. 

1. Will the Heat offer an extension to Bam Adebayo? 

Heat center Bam Adebayo is coming off of his best season in the NBA, as he was named to his first All-Star team and his first All-Defensive team. Since being selected by Miami in the first round of the 2017 Draft, Adebayo has blossomed into one of the best young big men in the entire league. As a player entering his fourth season, Adebayo is eligible for a maximum rookie extension this offseason.

Normally, offering an extension to a player of Adebayo’s caliber would be a no-brainer. However, the Heat are in a unique situation, as they are reportedly intent on saving cap space in order to pursue reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in free agency in 2021. Waiting to extend Adebayo would give them added space to do so. However, by waiting they also run the risk of irritating Adebayo, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to land Antetokounmpo. Do they want to run the risk of potentially damaging their relationship with one of their young building blocks for improved odds at landing another star? 

There might not be an easy answer for the Heat, but whether or not they’ll offer an extension to Adebayo is one of the biggest questions looming over their offseason, and what they decide to do could shape the foundation of the franchise for the foreseeable future. 

2. Will Miami bring back Dragic and Crowder? 

Two of Miami’s key contributors from their recent playoff run — Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder — will be unrestricted free agents this offseason. Dragic was Miami’s second-leading scorer throughout the postseason and Crowder provided the team with reliable defense and floor spacing while starting in all 21 of the Heat’s playoff games. Whether they are able to bring back both Dragic and Crowder will go a long way toward determining how the Heat will look next season, and beyond. 

The Heat are interested in bringing back Dragic, and that interest is mutual, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Given how well he played since he was acquired from the Grizzlies in February, Miami would probably like to bring Crowder back, too. However, both Dragic and Crowder have skill sets that are very valuable in today’s NBA, and players of their ilk will be in high demand. Assuming that the Heat want to maintain some financial flexibility moving forward, they might not be able to afford to bring back both Dragic and Crowder. Derrick Jones Jr. will also be an unrestricted free agent, and it will be interesting to see if the Heat bring him back, or he if gets a more lucrative offer elsewhere.

3. How much will their key young players develop? 

One of the more surprising aspects of the Heat’s playoff success this season was the fact that they relied heavily on young players that were largely unproven. Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro were both rookies, and Duncan Robinson might as well have been a rookie too given how little he played last season. Heading into the postseason, the Heat had four players in their rotation — Robinson, Nunn, Herro, and Jones Jr. — who had zero previous playoff experience. Additionally, their regular-season leader in minutes per game, Adebayo, only had five career postseason appearances to his name.

Those players all performed well in the playoffs for Miami, but they will need to be even better next season if the Heat are going to take another step forward. Robinson and Herro both need to expand offensively and develop defensively, while Adebayo could benefit from added work on his handles and shot. Such internal improvement will go a long way toward determining how strong the Heat will be in the future. Considering how good these players are already, and how well they performed during postseason play, there’s a whole lot of reason for optimism in Miami when it comes to their development. 

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