The Miami Heat came out a bit lethargic in last night’s opener but proceeded to throttle a moderately talented Orlando Magic squad with an early second-half surge en route to a 108-96 victory.

Here are ten observations, some positive and some negative, from the team’s first live action in the post-Dwyane Wade Era.

Note: Charlotte provides a much tougher test on Friday

1. Justise Winslow, playmaker?

The most notable development was how frequently Winslow played the role of facilitator with Goran Dragic out. The 20-year-old often brought the ball up the court and attacked hard off the dribble, showcasing exceptional court vision and a quick first step as he sliced through a lackluster Magic defense.

We barely saw any of this last season. If it wasn’t Dragic handling it was Dwyane Wade. If it wasn’t Wade it was Joe Johnson or even Luol Deng.

There are going to be some growing pains as he gets adjusted to becoming more of an active focal point but thats okay because for the Heat to optimize their offense, both in the short and long-term, the team needs a young creator to step up and nobody offers more potential than Justise.

2. Hassan Whiteside is an alien

Not human.

Whiteside continues to show he’s the most menacing presence at the rim in the Association — on both ends of the court — not only dunking everything within reach, tallying 14 boards and swatting four balls, but also limiting the opposition to 1-of-11 shooting at the rim, per NBA.com.

He was dominant on both ends but also showed a willingness to give the ball to a teammate after receiving it — we call this a pass. He dropped a sexy dime to a cutting Rodney McGruder off the inbounds.

This was not a thing last year as he finished with 29 assists the ENTIRE season. Perhaps he knows he’s going to get more scoring opportunities?

3. Goodbye Turd Quarter

turd-q

The Heat outscored the Magic 30-16 in what used to be their most miserable quarter. The energy looked blatantly different in the second half.

Can they sustain it?

4. Dion Waiters is a student of Chalmersian basketball

Dion is unquestionably the most polarizing player on the roster this season. One play he’ll knife into the lane and set up Whiteside for a gorgeous alley oop and the next he’ll take seven dribbles and launch a contested 20-footer off his back foot.

My heart can’t take oscillating players like Waiters, who clearly watches plenty of Mario Chalmers tape.

5. Tyler Johnson — UNDERpaid?

If Johnson is able to give them 25-to-30 quality minutes of playmaking, efficient shooting, and stout defense, he’ll easily be worth the $12.5 million annually he’s owed over the next four years.

Well, he checked all the boxes last night and has the potential to be a two-way impact player who can play on and off the ball, which makes him a valuable asset in a league deprived of players who can defend and shoot.

6. Whiteside’s free throws

Shooting 0 for 4 from the stripe is no bueno. Maybe he should consider going back to his jumpshot approach? It forces his legs to be engaged.

7. McGruder and Willie Reed look like they belong

Now these two have a long way  to prove themselves but both youngins flashed excellent ability in their respective reserve roles.

Reed may be so rail thin I mistook him for a guard at times but he played physical, siphoning rebounds and infusing energy — the Udonis Haslem role. While McGruder, a 25-year-old rookie, hustled his ass off in a somewhat shocking 24 minutes of action. He finished with a team-leading plus-15 along with Winslow.

With Josh Richadson still recovering from surgery and Josh McRoberts an injury waiting to happen, both have a chance to receive meaningfully minutes early on.

8. James Johnson was an assist machine

Not only did the physical veteran tie Dragic with a team-leading six assists but he also provided five screen assists — screens for a teammate leading directly to a bucket — in 25 impactful minutes off the bench.

9. Erik Spoelstra’s new hand signal was weird

And kind of sexual, depending on your level of perversion.

10. Dragic’s postgame videobomb was delightful