1 Heat player in danger of losing starting job in 2023-24 NBA training camp

The Miami Heat are coming off a playoff run for the ages. Even though the Heat didn’t win the 2023 NBA championship, their underdog run to the Eastern Conference crown must be applauded regardless.

Remember, the Heat were in the play-in tournament. They lost their first play-in game. They were down by three points in their second play-in game with three minutes to go! They easily could’ve been sent home. But they persevered and found their way to the NBA Finals.

Miami’s offseason, however, has been busy, but more for the move they haven’t made as compared to ones already finished. The Heat had a good summer, getting Josh Richardson back on a minimum deal and re-signing Kevin Love, who played well after his arrival midseason. But they have yet to land their white whale. Though Damian Lillard has made it clear he wants to play alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in South Beach, Miami has yet to make real progress on a potential trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s hard to make assumptions about this Heat roster until the Lillard saga is over. But as of now, it seems like Miami’s starting lineup could look something like this: Tyler Herro, Josh Richardson, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and Bam Adebayo, a solid quintet. But should that be the Heat’s starting lineup going forward?

Caleb Martin or Kevin Love?

Love initially signed with the the Heat in February following his buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former All-Star started 17-of-21 regular season games for and 18-of-20 playoff games for Miami,  providing the floor-spacing Erik Spoelstra’s team desperately needed

Miami shot 34.4% from three in the regular season last year. In the playoffs, however, that number skyrocketed up to 38% from three, and Love’s presence was a big reason why.

Love’s gravity was pivotal during the Heat’s playoff run, when he shot 37.5% from three. He wasn’t Miami’s only player who got hot from deep during the postseason. Caleb Martin shot only 35.6% from three during the regular season, but he caught fire in the playoffs and never went cold, scorching nets to the tune of 45.3% shooting on additional volume. That’s absurd.

It could be argued that Martin’s outstanding play flipped the Eastern Conference Finals. Battling Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics, Martin averaged 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting a preposterous 60.2% from the field. He also shot an obscene 48.9% from three while shooting over six threes per game. That’s Klay Thompson-esque!

Martin saved his best for last that series, too. He scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Miami’s historic Game 7 win, shooting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Not only was Caleb Martin draining every shot in sight, but he was also providing excellent defense. His quick feet, long arms and relentless aggression caused problems for both Tatum and Brown one-on-one.

Martin is also an excellent team defender, knowing where to be at all times and providing disruptive help when duty calls.

The numbers back up Martin’s defensive prowess. When Love was on the floor for the Heat instead of Martin during the regular season, their defensive rating was 115.0, good for the 51st percentile league-wide, per Cleaning the Glass. Replacing Martin with Love dropped Miami’s defensive rating to 112.4, which ranked in the 76th percentile.


Love brought much-needed size, experience and shooting to the Heat last season. That’s great. But Martin’s versatility defensively makes for a better fit in Miami’s starting lineup. The Heat showed they can win with either playing major minutes, but Martin’s extended role in the playoff is telling—and also makes him an attractive trade target for Portland.

There will be plenty of buzz around Miami between now and the start of 2023-24. But who should start between Love and Martin—if he’s even on the team, that is—is a dynamic to watch during training camp.

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