Heat’s ‘Most Underrated Player’ Boosts Miami’s Power Ranking

Kyle Lowry

Getty Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors waves to his family during a game against the Sacramento Kings at Amalie Arena on January 29, 2021.

Following a flurry of free agency moves, Miami Heat‘s roster will look decidedly different during the 2021-22 NBA season, and league experts can’t help but praise the newly-transformed team.

In the most recent NBA power rankings, ESPN analysts put the Heat at No. 8 spot. Miami’s Eastern Conference rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, nabbed the top spot, and the Milwaukee Bucks earned second place.

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The power rankings were curated by Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Dave McMenamin, Kevin Pelton, and Royce Young. Friedell explained that the Heat’s positioning stems from the franchise’s newest additions:

Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker, and Markieff Morris joined a roster that has always prided itself on being mentally tougher and physically stronger than everybody else. The trio should fit in nicely behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Heat have the kind of roster that would be tough to deal with in a playoff series. The question is whether the veteran-laden team can get to that point with the health needed to make a deep run.

Miami obtained Lowry from the Toronto Raptors through a sign-and-trade deal earlier this month. In exchange for the 35-year-old point guard, Miami sent the Raptors Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa.

Despite High Accolades, Bleacher Report Calls Lowry the Heat’s ‘Most Underrated Player’

On August 23, Bontemps interviewed a panel of 10 NBA scouts and executives and asked them, “What was the best move of the offseason?” The Heat’s addition of Kyle Lowry received five of the 10 votes. (Jalen Suggs to Orlando Magic coming in second place with two votes.)

“[Lowry is] a proven playoff performer,” an East scout told ESPN. “He has a winning mentality, toughness, will fit like a glove.”

“I don’t love the money,” a West executive told ESPN, “but I just love the fit. He fits the Heat culture, and I just think he’s the piece they were missing — plus they kept him away from everyone else who wanted him.”

Oddly enough, two days before Bontemps’ poll was published, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale referred to Lowry, a six-time All-Star, as the Heat’s “most underrated player.” Favale wrote, “Failing any painfully obvious or spectacularly subtle candidates, defaulting to Kyle Lowry seems right, in large part because he’s never quite received the credit he deserves without strings attached.”

However, it’s hard to call Lowry “underrated” considering the Heat signed him to a three-year $85 million contract on August 6, and despite his age, is expected to be a dominant offensive force. Lowry remains one of the top point guards in the entire league. Last season, he averaged 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game.

Following Lowry’s departure from the Raptors, he played nine seasons in Toronto, team president Masai Ujiri nearly gave him all the credit for the franchise’s success. Ujiri said Lowry did everything the Raptors asked of him before taking his talents to South Beach.

TSN reporter Josh Lewenberg tweeted on August 18, “Ujiri: Is Kyle the greatest Raptor that ever played the game here? Yes he is. Kyle is the greatest Raptor… We wish him all the best. He’s in great hands in Miami.”

Miami Heat’s 2021-22 NBA Roster So Far

The Heat said goodbye to Kendrick Nunn, Andre Iguodala, Trevor Ariza, and Nemanja Bjelica this summer, and lost Dragic and Achiuwa in the deal that brought Lowry to Miami.

While the Heat could add a 15th player before the season starts, it seems unlikely. Per NBA rules, the Heat are also not required to add a 15th player.

The following 14 players are locked in for the Heat’s 2021-22 NBA season:

Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Udonis Haslem, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, KZ Okapala, Dewayne Dedmon, Markieff Morris, Victor Oladipo, and Omer Yurtseven.

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