The 2019-20 Miami Heat stayed busy this offseason after landing Philadelphia 76ers wing Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade, drafting Kentucky guard Tyler Herro and dealing center Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trail Blazers.
This year marks the first time since 2016-17 that Butler enters a campaign as a team's unquestioned top player. He was the Chicago Bulls' alpha that year, averaging 23.9 points, 6.2 boards and 5.5 dimes.
The Heat took Herro with the 13th overall pick after he posted 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for Kentucky.
And Whiteside is now gone after his wildly fluctuating role in the rotation resulted in 12.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 23.2 minutes per game.
Miami hopes these moves will help the team improve upon a 39-43 record and get them back into the postseason after missing the playoffs last year.
Here's a look at their 2019-20 season schedule, the latest championship odds, their top matchups and a season-record prediction.
Season Opener: Oct. 23 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Championship Odds: 50-1 (via Caesars)
Full Schedule: Heat Twitter
Memphis Grizzlies (Season Opener: Oct. 23)
Butler's debut will be much-discussed leading into this game, but Tyler Herro's first Association contest should also garner a ton of buzz.
The Herro hype train is speeding up after the ex-Kentucky guard averaged 19.8 points on 42 percent shooting in summer-league play:
He even got the attention of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell:
Herro won't be starting immediately with Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler patrolling the backcourt, but he figures to carve a spot in the rotation as a key reserve. If his summer-league play is any indication, Herro should be an impactful contributor.
Philadelphia 76ers (First Road Game: Nov. 23)
Butler will make his return to Philadelphia after spending the better part of the 2018-19 season there, helping lead the team to an Eastern Conference semifinals appearance.
The 76ers took the eventual champion Toronto Raptors to seven games before losing the finale on a buzzer-beater from two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
Butler averaged 22.0 points, 6.9 boards and 5.6 assists during that series, closing his tenure on a high note. The question is whether the 76er fans cheer him for his strong showing in Philadelphia or boo him for heading elsewhere in free agency.
Butler frankly doesn't deserve boos, but Philadelphia sports fans may feel otherwise.
Orlando Magic (First Home Game: Jan. 27)
Miami may find itself in a similar situation this year, and the division-rival Magic stand as one team who could be in the Heat's way of a playoff berth yet again.
The Heat and Magic face off four times this year, and their season series could help determine the back end of the Eastern Conference postseason bracket. That turned out to be the case last season, as the 42-40 Magic's 3-1 record over Miami helped secure a postseason bid and left the Heat on the outside.
The Heat needed a No. 1 scorer in the starting lineup last season and got that in Butler, and they needed an energetic guard to provide some juice and got that in Herro. As good as Whiteside was, he didn't really fit the Heat as they played more small ball with Kelly Olynyk at the 5.
All these factors should lead to improvement, although how much is up for debate. The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks figure to fight for Eastern Conference supremacy, with the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets a step behind.
On paper, the Heat can make a case for being the best East team out of the rest. If Butler returns to his 2016-17 form, Herro develops quickly and the Heat's low-post men do well in Whiteside's absence, then they could threaten for 50 wins.
The guess here is that won't happen, but expect a playoff berth and a five-win improvement at minimum.
Record Prediction: 46-36