Sports

The Five Most Noteworthy Miami Heat Players This Season

Clockwise from top left: Bam Adebayo, Max Strus, Tyler Herro, Udonis Haslem, and Duncan Robinson
Clockwise from top left: Bam Adebayo, Max Strus, Tyler Herro, Udonis Haslem, and Duncan Robinson Photos by Andy Lyons, Michael Reaves, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Miami Heat's regular season concludes this Sunday against the Magic in Orlando, making this the ideal time to reflect.

Oh, what a season it has been! When the 2021-2022 campaign began, no one expected that the Heat would occupy much of the season as the Eastern Conference's first seed, and now they're finishing it at the top of the Eastern Conference.

But for an otherwise pleasant season, many obstacles were overcome. From new players adapting to the team and star players missing multiple games owing to injuries, nothing has come easy for the Heat, and yet the team has managed to succeed.

So who's most to thank for the Heat's surprisingly stellar season? We've got awards for five of the team's most noteworthy players.

Newcomer of the Year: Max Strus

Max Strus put in roughly half of a season with the Heat last year, but it wasn't until recently that he could truly be considered a vital part of the team. Recently moved to the starting lineup in place of Duncan Robinson, Strus quickly paid dividends, as evidenced by his strong defensive work at the end of a crucial win over the Boston Celtics last week.

The Heat continues to pull gems out of the NBA G League. Strus is the latest example of a player any NBA team could have signed a few months ago for next to nothing but would now gladly trade assets and millions to have on the court.

Teammate of the Year: Udonis Haslem

Even in a quieter season when his tough-love approach might not have been as necessary, Udonis Haslem remains the greatest teammate any NBA squad could ask for. Just last month, he threatened to kick Jimmy Butler's ass.

Haslem's steady veteran presence has been indispensable in 2022. For those who continue to ask why UD receives a roster spot well into his 40s and with little chance of seeing the court — well, the past few weeks should put those nagging questions to rest: UD can challenge a teammate to a fight and it will become yesterday's news.

Player of the Year: Tyler Herro

Is Tyler Herro the best player on the Miami Heat? Probably not. That title goes to Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler. Has he had the best and, more importantly, the most consistent season of any Heat player? Definitely.

Herro has been a rock on the court this season, averaging 20 points, five rebounds, and four assists a game. More often than not, his presence on the floor has been a steadying factor, with lineups constantly shifting when he has missed time.

Herro brought it in hard for his third season in the NBA and will likely take home an official honor, Sixth Man of the Year, when the end-of-season NBA awards are announced.

Disappointment of the Year: Duncan Robinson

This past offseason, Duncan Robinson was rewarded for previous underpaid achievements in Miami with a five-year $90 million contract. It felt iffy at best when the Heat inked him to the deal, but their hands were seemingly tied at the time. Then Miami benched the high-priced shooter for Max Strus, the man who likely would have replaced Robinson if Miami had let him walk in free agency.

Not great! Duncan is the sort of player who can change an entire series and is still a dynamite player to have off your bench. It's just not an ideal situation when you pay a starter big money, then bench him after months of below-par performances.

Face of the Franchise: Bam Adebayo

Jimmy Butler was the face of the Miami Heat prior to 2022, but this was the season Bam took that title and ran with it. And he'll likely hold the label for some time.

When you think Miami Heat, you think Bam Adebayo. He's a dominant force and a personality people gravitate toward. He's also the reason many more stars will want to land in Miami in the future — most notably at the moment, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

Bam is the man in Miami. 
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi