This time last year, little to no-one were expecting the Miami Heat to reach the NBA Play-Off Final, and while the Los Angeles Lakers took the title home, the adventure was a huge indication that Erik Spoelstra's team will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2020/21 season.
Something special is developing at the Heat; the healthy mix of young and hungry talent with experienced pros is perfect for the development of Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, two players that will be seen in plenty of All-Star games for years to come.
Having a superstar wing in the shape of Jimmy Butler will further any team's chances of reaching the Play-Off Final - but the feeling in Florida is that Butler and the Heat are a match made in heaven, and should the players around him continue to develop and perform, they will have a big chance this season of securing their 4th NBA Championship Ring.
A five time NBA All Star, gold medalist and 2015 Most Improved Player, Jimmy Butler holds the key to Miami's success.
His relentless drive and passion for the game makes him one of the most admirable and respectable players in the league, as well as an important role model and mentor for the young players in their roster.
The 31-year-old small forward found another level to his game during last-season's play-offs, dropping 22.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game and a career high in the play-offs of 6.0 assists per game.
He also set his career high in field goal percentage in the play-offs at around 49%, as the Heat lost just three times before their showdown with the Lakers - where they still managed to win twice despite many people predicting a 4-0 blowout for the Western Conference Champions.
It will certainly be a huge season for Butler, who will be desperate to lead his team to the Play-Off Finals again.
Standing at 6 ft 9 in, 23-year-old Bam Adebayo enjoyed a breakout season last year, earning himself a spot in the NBA All Star Game for the first time in his career.
A dominating presence in the paint, Bam averaged a double-double per game in the regular season as well as the post-season, where he also averaged one steal per game and 0.8 blocks per game.
The center has improved his numbers every single season so far since being drafted by the Heat in 2017 as the 14th pick in the 1st round, after impressing in his freshman year at the University of Kentucky.
In Game Six against Boston Celtics last season in the Eastern Conference Play-Off Finals , Bam dropped 32 points and 14 rebounds to send the Heat to the NBA Finals, and also put up an impressive 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists against the Eastern Conference favourites Milwaukee Bucks in Game Four of the previous round.
Don't under-estimate and doubt Bam's ability - if he continues to come on leaps and bounds with every passing season, there won't be a single player in the league that will be getting any easy buckets this season.
One of the most popular rookies of recent years, Tyler Herro put up an average of 13.5 points per game in his debut season from the bench more often than not.
He does have the the likes of Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley that will all be out on the court trying to make an impression over the first few games, but the pressure is on Herro to earn a starting spot this season.
At just 20-years-old, 'Boy Wonder' impressed in the play-offs in many big games - showing that he is a young player that can certainly handle the pressure in the important moments.
His best performance in the play-offs came against the Celtics in Game Four, where he put up an incredible 37-point performance which included five three-pointers and six rebounds - numbers which highlighted his ability to shoot from beyond the arc comfortably and defend competently at the highest level against some of the most in-form players in the league.
If the shooting guard can fix Jack Harlow's jump shot, there is no doubt that he can also contribute massively to the Heat's scoring this season with his own jump shot.
Trades, Draft and Pre-Season
For a long time, the Heat were one of the sides most interested in making a trade offer for Houston Rockets superstar James Harden - but in the last few days the interest has been cooled dramatically and a deal will now most likely not happen.
The main deals that have been concluded have seen Derrick Jones Jr leave through free agency to the Portland Trail Blazers, while Solomon Hill joined the Atlanta Hawks and Jae Crowder joined the Phoenix Suns - both through free agency.
The franchise added Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless from the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks respectively - while Max Strus also signed a contract and will most likely spend the season at affiliate team Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA G-League.
The only player added to the roster from the 2020 NBA Draft was Precious Achiuwa, a 21-year-old Nigerian power forward who was picked 20th in the first round after impressing at the University of Memphis alongside the 2nd overall pick James Wiseman.
Miami have only played two pre-season games ahead of the new season, and lost the first against the New Orleans Pelicans 92-114, as Herro led the scoring with 17 while Jimmy Butler was unavailable.
Their final game was up against the Toronto Raptors, who were beaten by the Heat 105-117, thanks to 24 points from KZ Okpala and 22 points from Max Strus - who will be trying his hardest to show that he will be a useful player this season instead of playing in the G-League.
Despite Butler missing both games, the star declared he is good to go ahead of the new season's commencement tonight.
“I’m good to go. I think it was a mutual decision. The coaches, the organization know what they’re doing," said Butler.
"I’m ready to hoop; when I’m out there in practice, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, working on my game every single day.
"I’m ready to go. Now that things start to get real, we’re built for it.
“I think we’re championship caliber, I think the group that coach Pat and Spo and Andy put together is to get over the hump that we couldn’t reach last year.
"I think everybody is locked in. We’re going to continue to grow.
"We’re going to continue to get better each and every day and continue to learn each other’s strengths. I think our goal is to win it all.”