The Miami Heat are coming off an impressive season in which they finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and were just one win away from going to the NBA Finals. A heroic performance from Jimmy Butler nearly carried the team through the playoffs but it was not quite enough. The slates have been wiped clean heading into the 2022-23 season and the franchise will have to start from scratch in their journey for success.

It was a relatively quiet offseason for Miami. They added Nikola Jovic with the 27th pick in the draft and brought back Victor Oladipo on a one-year deal. The Heat also lost PJ Tucker in free agency, a major hole they will be forced to fill. While Tucker is aging and nearing the end of his career, he was a key piece of their team last season and was especially important in the postseason. The failure to properly replace him could be a cause for concern moving forward.

Regardless, the Heat seem to always find ways to outperform expectations and this year could be no different. While there are still several months until the start of the season, here are three early predictions for what to expect from Miami during to 2022-23 season.

Miami Heat 2022-23 season predictions

3)Tyler Herro averages 23+ points per game

One guy who is expected to have some additional eyes on him this season is Tyler Herro. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year has improved his scoring totals in each of his three seasons in the NBA. Last year he averaged 20.7 points per game while shooting a career-high 39.9% on three-point attempts. Herro will continue to be an important part of the Miami offense and if he can grow on the defensive side of the ball it could allow for expanded minutes. The Kentucky product has vocalized his hope to become a part of the starting lineup and the Heat will likely experiment with this.

It is also worth noting that Tyler Herro will play out the final year of his rookie contract this season. The 22-year-old will be a restricted free agent following the season and has yet to agree to a long-term deal with the Heat. Herro is eligible to sign an extension as large as $188 million over five years with the first year’s salary set at $32.5 million. NBA players tend to play their best in a contract year and expect Tyler Herro to leave it all out on the floor in order to prove he is worth this time of long-term commitment.

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2)Nikola Jovic averages 12+ points per game

The biggest X-factor on the Miami Heat this season is Nikola Jovic. The Serbian is a talented young shooter with excellent size. Jovic stands 6’11” and projects as a wing in the NBA. He showed some intriguing flashes in summer league and may be more NBA-ready than was initially thought.

Expect the Heat to use the rookie as a spark off the bench and for him to fill this role effectively. His length and desire to compete on the defensive side of the floor should give Jovic an edge over some of the other rotational pieces. Jovic’s willing three-point shooting and off-ball movement will fit nicely in the Miami system. Look for the rookie to capitalize on his opportunity and add some scoring production off the bench for the Heat this year.

1)Miami Heat don’t make top 4 in the East

The Heat impressed greatly last year by finishing 53-29 and securing the top seed in the East. Unfortunately for the Heat, several teams in the conference took massive steps forward. The Celtics addressed their biggest weakness by trading for Malcolm Brogdon while keeping their core intact. The Sixers added some key bench pieces and stole PJ Tucker away from Miami in free agency. The Atlanta Hawks made a major trade to land DeJounte Murray and the Bucks will be healthy again this season.

The bottom line is the race in the Eastern Conference is as competitive as ever. While the Miami Heat will surely find their way into the postseason and will be prepared to compete on a nightly basis with any team, some sort of falloff should be expected. There are still plenty of reasons for optimism surrounding the team but the loss of PJ Tucker will likely prove more impactful than it has been recognized. As long as Jimmy Butler and the rest of the core remain intact you cannot count the franchise out, but standing still while the rest of the league progresses is not typically a recipe for success.