Despite the Miami Heat franchise being 31 years old, they have one of the best all-time rosters in the entire NBA. In those 31 seasons, the Heat have made 20 playoff appearances and five NBA Finals appearances with three titles.
All-Time Miami Heat Starting Five
Point Guard – Tim Hardaway
It should be noted that Tim Hardaway is an important part of the franchise’s early playoff success. Acquired during the 1995 season by trade with the Golden State Warriors, Hardaway clearly had an immediate impact. Starting the last 28 games in the 1995 season, the Heat went 17-11 clinching a playoff appearance. The Heat made the playoffs in each of his six seasons with the franchise. Unquestionably, his best playoff performance with the Heat is the 1998 playoffs averaging 26 points and 6.6 Assists.
Despite being 6’0″, during his six seasons in Miami he made three All-NBA teams. At this time Hardaway was especially known for his talented ball-handling skills. In the 1996-97 regular season, he finished fourth in voting for the MVP award averaging 20.3 points, 8.6 assists, and 1.9 steals. His career averages with the Heat are 17.3 points, 7.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds. Nonetheless, his success with the Heat franchise earned a retirement of his jersey number 10 honoring his legacy.
Shooting Guard – Dwyane Wade
In 15 seasons with the Heat, Dwyane Wade is undoubtedly the most decorated player in franchise history. Wade was drafted by the Heat in the 2003 draft with the fifth pick of the first round. Wade made the All-Rookie First Team in his first season and led the Heat to the playoffs after a two-year stint. In 2006, he led the Heat to their first Finals defeating the Dallas Mavericks, winning the Finals MVP along the way. He also became the youngest player to average 30 points in the NBA Finals history.
Ultimately, the Heat won three titles in five Finals appearances during Wade’s career with the franchise. He made eight All-NBA teams, 13 All-Star teams, was the 2009 NBA scoring champion, and is 11th in all-time playoff scoring. He holds 12 franchise records and is the only player under 6’4″ to ever record 700 blocks. He averaged 22.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in his 15 seasons with the Heat. Considered to be a top-five shooting guard in NBA history, the “heart of the Heat” is a franchise and NBA legend.
Small Forward – LeBron James
Despite only playing four seasons for the Heat, all four of those years were spent in the NBA Finals. On July eighth, 2010 ESPN broadcasted a special “the decision” where free agent LeBron James announced he would sign with the Heat. It should be noted that at this time, James was considered the best basketball player on the planet. From 2010-14, averaging 26.9 points, 6.7 assists, and 7.8 rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 54.3 percent field goal percentage. James also racked up four first-team All-NBA awards, three first-team All-Defense awards, and one second-team All-Defense in his time in Miami.
James won two MVP awards in 2012 and 2013 and led the Heat to championships both years, earning two NBA Finals MVP awards. The Heat compiled a 59-27 playoff record in James’ four dominant seasons. During those four playoff runs, James averaged 26.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 8.4 rebounds. After losing the 2014 NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, James became a free agent and signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although only spending four years with the Heat, he set 14 franchise records and generated many illustrious moments.
Power Forward – Chris Bosh
On July 10th, 2010 a sign-and-trade deal was finalized with the Toronto Raptors sending Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat. The 6’11” power forward spent his last six years of his career with the franchise. Following his arrival, the Heat won two NBA championships and made four consecutive Finals appearances. Without a doubt, Bosh played a pivotal role for the Heat during these memorable playoff runs. Particularly, in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls, he averaged 23.2 points in a 4-1 series win.
Upon his arrival in Miami, Bosh transformed his game by learning how to play away from the hoop. Subsequently, increasing his three-point attempt rate from 2.3 percent to 14.2 percent which undoubtedly bolstered the team’s success. Despite the change to his game, Bosh averaged 18 points and 7.3 rebounds over the six seasons with the Heat. Suffering from recurring blood clotting issues, in June of 2017 the NBA deemed his condition as career-ending. After being forced early retirement, the Heat retired his jersey.
Center – Shaquille O’Neal
It took Shaquille O’Neal only two years to deliver the promise he made to bring a championship to the Heat fan base. He made that promise on July 14th, 2004 when the Los Angeles Lakers traded O’Neal. His first season in Miami the Heat won 59 games finishing first in their conference. The Heat made the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals but O’Neal fell short of an NBA MVP with averages of 22.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game and a 60.1 percent field goal percentage.
That following season, O’Neal dominated in the 2006 playoffs helping the Heat win their first NBA Finals in franchise history. At age 33, O’Neal averaged 18.4 points per game, 9.8 rebounds, and a 61.2 percent field goal percentage in the playoffs. The Heat later traded O’Neal in the 2007-08 season to the Pheonix Suns. O’Neal had an efficient and exciting career with the Heat, making three All-NBA first teams and three NBA All-Star teams. In December 2016, the franchise retired his jersey.
Point Guard – Goran Dragic
Originally traded from the Pheonix Suns in 2015, Goran Dragic was a part of the rebuilding process following LeBron James’ departure. The 6’3″ Slovenian guard has had a quiet but successful career with the franchise. Following the 2019 free agency, this season Dragic will have the most talented Heat roster that he’s played with. At this time, he is sixth in career assists for the Heat and tenth in three-point field goals. Without a doubt, the veteran point guard will finish as a top player in franchise history.
Shooting Guard – Steve Smith
Clearly seeing the potential in Steve Smith, the Heat used the a fifth overall pick on the 6’7″ shooting guard. During his first year, Smith made the NBA All-Rookie first team and was a part of the Heat’s first playoff appearance. In spite of a first-round loss, the rookie averaged 16 points and a 63.6 percent three-point percentage. Trading Smith away in the 1994-95 season, the Heat brought him back for his final year in the 2004-05 season. Even though his role was mentoring in his final year, the Heat were adamant that his last year was with the Heat.
Small Forward – Glen Rice
In the 1989 NBA draft, the Heat used their fourth pick in the first round to draft Glen Rice. In six seasons with the franchise, he finished third in career points, third in three-point field goals and second in field goals. The 6’7″ small forward helped the Heat organization to their first two playoff appearances. Moments in particular such as a 56 point performance against the Orlando Magic in 1995 stand out. His best year came during the 1991-92 season, averaging 22.3 points and 5 rebounds a game.
Power Forward – Udonis Haslem
After a 16-year career with the Miami Heat, Udonis Haslem is a franchise legend. Not only did he play his entire career in Miami but was also a part of all three franchise championships. The undrafted 6’8″ power forward signed with the franchise in 2003. In the 2006 NBA Finals, he scored 17 points and 10 rebounds in the closeout game 6 bringing Miami their first title. In November 2012, Haslem became the first undrafted NBA player to lead a franchise in total rebounds.
Center – Alonzo Mourning
Arriving via trade in 1995, Alonzo Mourning averaged 23.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game for the Miami Heat. In 11 seasons with the Heat, he became the franchise leader in blocks and reached second in total rebounds. He averaged a career-high 3.9 blocks per game during the 1998-99 season. Along with helping the Heat win their first NBA title in 2006, Mourning made two All-NBA defensive first team. One month after announcing his retirement, he became the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.
Head Coach – Pat Riley
The hall of fame head coach arrived in 1995. Pat Riley had an immediate impact, leading the Heat to the playoffs in his first season. Following his first season, he exceeded expectations yet again finishing with the best record in the conference. After spending 11 years with the franchise, Riley led the Heat to win their first NBA Finals in 2006. Since arriving in 1995, Riley has served as either the head coach or president of the franchise. Riley led the franchise to 18 of their 20 playoff appearances and contributed to all three titles.
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