Mid-August to mid-September is when the NBA tends to take a pause. It also makes it the perfect time to assess where a team stands.
So with seven weeks until the Sept. 26 start of camp, a look at the state of the Miami Heat's roster from the standpoint of player importance.
1. Hassan Whiteside: The 7-foot shot-blocking, rim-rattling center gives the Heat elements that cannot be matched on most, if any, nights. The Heat must maximize that advantage. This is not a matter of whether Whiteside is the Heat's best player, but the edge at center will be more significant for the Heat on most nights than at any other position.
2. James Johnson: The Heat took a $60 million gamble on a 30-year-old forward based on the unique skill set unveiled eight years into his career. Much of the 30-11 run over the second half of the season came with Johnson as the focus. He stands as arguably the Heat's most significant two-way perimeter talent.
3. Goran Dragic: The Heat's ball-moving, 3-launching offense somewhat mitigates Dragic's strengths in the halfcourt offense. Where he excels is as a one-man fast break, an element the Heat need to create easy scoring opportunities. His importance is magnified by the lack of a true backup at point guard. When he sits, then what?
4. Justise Winslow: Such an unknown, but could settle in as a James Johnson 2.0 element if he comes around with his outside shooting. Like James Johnson, he is a rebounder, facilitator, defender. Swiss Army knives are essential to the Erik Spoelstra approach.
5. Dion Waiters: This might be a bit further down the order than expected, but if we're talking about true "importance," there has to be a better way for the Heat than Waiters buzzer-beaters. Yes, he is an essential component, but his greatest importance might be as Dragic's running mate.
6. Tyler Johnson: If James Johnson winds up as the starting power forward, then Tyler Johnson's bench boost might prove singular this season. Forget the contract, he took significant strides forward last season and figures to anchor this season's second unit.
7. Kelly Olynyk: Although arguably the most significant offseason addition, remember that he's joining a team with 30-11 chemistry over the second half of last season. Like Justise Winslow, the challenge will be making something good into something better.
8. Josh Richardson: To this stage, Richardson has largely been a complementary talent. He helps with his scoring, helps with his defense. But the game-changing moments beyond the end of 2015-16 have been limited. We're talking "importance" here. More significance is needed.
9. Bam Adebayo: With Willie Reed gone and with Kelly Olynyk hardly known as a defensive deterrent in the middle, Adebayo's significant minutes could come down to those when Whiteside is out. And the Heat's best interest is not to have Whiteside out any more than necessary.
10. Wayne Ellington: The 3-point game still matters, and Ellington often provided a needed spark when he entered last season. But if the Heat can get the needed 3-point shooting from James Johnson, Dragic, Waiters, Tyler Johnson and perhaps Richardson and Winslow, then Ellington could revert to a specialist role.
11. Rodney McGruder: Last season's starting small forward lands here only because of what has been injected into the mix, from a larger role for James Johnson to the return of Winslow to a healthier Waiters and Richardson. McGruder in a significant role might mean something else hasn't worked out.
12. The remaining $4.3 million mid-level exception: Even with the 11 players of "importance" listed above, this hardly is a complete roster. There likely will be someone who comes available either before the season, at the trading deadline or the buyout deadline who upgrades what is listed below.
13. Okaro White: Break open in case of injury.
14. A.J. Hammons: Anything from the remnant of the Josh McRoberts salary dump would be a bonus.
15. Udonis Haslem: Important in the locker room? Without question. On the court?
16. Matt Williams Jr.: Training camp and the G-League is the perfect place to see if there are NBA-level skills beyond 3-point shooting.
17. Derrick Walton Jr.: The "importance" here is being the Heat's first-ever two-way contract.