There are plenty of reasons why the basketball world was caught sleeping on a Miami Heat team that's now advanced to the NBA Finals.
For one, as the East's No. 5 seed, the 2020 Heat are the first team since the 1999 Knicks (No. 8) - and only the third team in the last 37 seasons - to make the Finals after being seeded fifth or lower.
And, in fact, long before playoff seeding was set, Miami's surprising 2019-20 campaign was often viewed through the lens of what it meant for the Heat's future rather than with an acknowledgement that this team was capable of doing damage in the present.
Yes, Jimmy Butler's arrival (after the Heat maneuvered themselves out from being a middling team in salary cap hell), Bam Adebayo's rise, 2021 cap space, and the lure of South Beach - all pitched by Pat Riley - makes Miami one of the obvious threats in a landscape-altering free-agent class next year. But in focusing on what some future projection of the Heat could be, many missed the forest from the trees, and failed to realize what the 2019-20 Heat already were.
The trade deadline was a perfect microcosm of this disconnect. Acquiring Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill was an obvious positive in the short term for a playoff-bound team, but given how far Miami was considered to be from true contention this season, the move was criticized as shortsighted, especially considering Justise Winslow was included in the deal that also sent Dion Waiters and James Johnson packing.
Title contenders that understand that championship windows don't stay open forever make those kinds of myopic moves, knowing the marginal gains will be worth it if the season ends with a trophy. Teams like the Heat - perceived to be a solid yet unspectacular fringe contender, at best - aren't supposed to.