It’s almost irrelevant to talk about the Heat’s last season because
there won’t be any sign of continuity between last season’s version and
the current powerhouse that the Heat have transformed into during the
Nevertheless it is curious to notice that basically the Miami Heat
was no more than a Cavaliers’ poor version in the last 2 years, as they
overachieved during the regular season, but when the playoffs came they
were no match for the real best teams in the league.
Dwayne Wade once again carried the team on his shoulders with
another monster season, but when your two best young players (Chalmers
and Beasley) don’t develop into solid and consistent players and your
theoretically second best offensive option (Jermaine O’Neal) had a
playoff series in which he shot 20% from the field (against the
Celtics), then you know that your team is way far from being a top team
in the NBA.
2009/10 Advanced Stats:
Pace 28th 92.9
Offense 19th 104.4
Defense 7th 101.6
Rebounds 11th +1.09
Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers, Patrick Beverley
SG: Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Kenny Hasbrouck
SF: LeBron James, Mike Miller, James Jones, Da’Sean Butler
PF: Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard, Shavlik Randolph
C: Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, Dexter Pittman
First of all, let’s give some merit to Pat Riley and his vision/plan
a couple of years ago. Others teams in the NBA tried to pull the same
plan, but it was ultimately the Heat that received the biggest prize.
To make Riley’s actions even more impressive, the Heat was still
competitive in the last 2 seasons even though their objectives were
focused in the 2010 free agency market.
The offseason started with the re-signing of Dwyane Wade, closely
followed by the signing of Chris Bosh and then capped off with the
signing of the reigning MVP in LeBron James. The first notion of
“sacrifice” was given when these 3 superstar players gave up of
receiving huge money, if they had chosen instead to play for their
former teams. To make a long story short in here, I just need to say
that Wade, James and Bosh together will receive in this season about the
same as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for the Los Angeles Lakers! Also
Udonis Haslem turned down more lucrative offers to sign a five-year
contract with the Heat for only about $4 million per year and before
that, swingman Mike Miller chose the Heat over the Knicks, Cavaliers,
Clippers and the Bulls, so the first stone of this “new” franchise was
written using the word “sacrifice”.
After this brief introduction, the pertinent question that every NBA
fan has made was: can these 3 guys play together and keep everyone’s
egos in check?
They received a lot of criticism after their decision especially
Lebron James, but many people seem to forget these players thought in
EVERYTHING before making an decision and still didn’t mind in playing
together. If the plan goes well for them, then Lebron James will always
have one less Championship ring than Dwayne Wade who has already one,
but guess what? He doesn’t care about it, otherwise he wouldn’t join
Wade and the Heat!
By talking about egos, go back to the 2005-06 Miami Heat team that
managed to secure their first title ever. They featured in Shaquille
O’Neal, Gary Payton and Antoine Walker three of the biggest egos in the
NBA at the time and still won it all because every player shared one
desire, and that was to win.
If you are a superstar player in any sport, it’s not that hard to
play along with another superstar player (who by the way is your
friend), hard is to play with mediocre teammates(!) and that’s why Kobe
Bryant was so frustrated with his team a couple of seasons ago when he
had to play with the likes of Smush Parker or Kwame Brown.
Note that when we are talking about Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, we
are talking about two players who have court vision and are the
definite definition of all around players, as they don’t need to score
to make an impact in the game. If Allen Iverson had signed back in the
day for the Rockets to play along with Tracy McGrady, then I would be
truly worried about the Rockets’ chances because these 2 players are
basically scorers - indeed they were the best that the league had, but
there’s only one ball to play in the game. With Lebron and Wade, this
isn’t the case, as they are complete all around players.
Yes, they won’t be able to shot 20.1 and 19.6 field goals per game
nor average 29.7 and 26.6 points per game and probably the discussion
will appear when Miami loses a tight game in the final possession
because it would be better Wade to shoot in that play instead of Lebron,
but let’s not forget that we are talking about two players that were
in the top 10 of Assists per game last season and averaged 7.3 and 4.8
rebounds per game, while being selected for the first and second
All-Defensive Teams in the last 2 years: their game is way more than
Man.. I was talking about Lebron and Wade that I simply forgot Chris
Bosh and he gives the Heat their first legitimate post presence since
Shaquille O’Neal left the team in the middle of the 2006-07 season. Bosh
is coming off a career season by averaging career highs in points
(24.0), rebounds (10.8) and in field goal percentage (51.8%). However he
couldn’t help his former team to qualify to the playoffs in the last 2
years and let’s be honest: his defense was way off from being top
notch. Likely his scoring average will dip a bit, but for him (and for
the team) it is imperative that he improves in two important facets in
the game: overall defense and offensive rebounding. Note that we was
the 9th best offensive rebounder in the league last season, but now
with Lebron and Wade sharing the spotlight and attempting more FG’s,
it’s imperative that some of the Bosh offensive production came from
grabbing an offensive board and score in that way. Also in order for
Miami to be a terrific defensive team, then CB4 will have to improve
his toughness, which I believe he will because it’s all about his mind.
This trio can succeed in the NBA like “others trios” did in the past:
In Boston’s championship season back in 2008, Pierce, Allen, and
Garnett averaged a combined 55.8 points per game, while the team
averaged 100.6 points - 55.5 percent of the team’s scoring.
In San Antonio’s title year in 2007, the big three of Tim Duncan,
Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker posted a combined 55.1 points, while the
team averaged 98.5 points per contest - 56 percent of the team’s
Note that both the Celtics and the Spurs were at the time a bit
older, so are you telling me that these three players playing in their
prime aren’t able to put build together a dynasty? C’mon man!
Beyond those 3 players, there are still 2 positions to fill in the
starting lineup and a whole second unit to play some minutes. The truth
is that Pat Riley made a terrific job in proving solid contribution
under the tight financial circumstances surrounding the team.
For the Point Guard position, the Heat doesn’t need a traditional PG
playmaker because they already have two playmakers on the team. They
need only their guard to play solid defense and in this area, Mario
Chalmers has the advantage or to be a good spot-up shooter and in here
Arroyo is more efficient. Plus, don’t be surprised if Spoelstra uses
Lebron James in a kind of Magic Johnson role on the team. Lebron
averaged 8.6 assists-per game last season and actually he sees the court
the way Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Chris Paul see the court, but with a
power forward’s body.
In that scenario, Mike Miller will be on the court just to pay the
opposing team’s price of double teaming Lebron, Wade or Bosh.
Offensively he only needs to stand out behind the three-point arc and
knock the ball down when left wide open. Last season he was the second
best 3 pointer shooter in the league only behind Kyle Korver and there
is no reason to think otherwise, when the rankings are revealed at the
end of this upcoming season.
In order to the Heat win a Championship they will have to “survive”
against Dwight Howard, Garnett and the both O’Neal’s or against Gasol
and Bynum and that is the biggest challenge for the team when the
Udonis Haslem is a guy that will bring defense, rebounding, hustle,
attitude and energy to the court, but he is ultimately undersized to
play against the “bigs” in this league. At the center position the Heat
is counting with Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jamaal Magloire
and the overall quality of this unit is years behind the other spots in
the roster. Anthony is a terrific shot blocker and an overall good
defender, but again he is undersized when compared against Howard,
O’Neal or Bynum.
Finally we have to talk about head coach Erik Spoelstra, who looked
to be a good head coach in a team that lacked talent beyond Dwayne Wade.
Now that the objectives are way bigger, will he be up to the task?
Let’s be honest in here, if the team has some troubles early on how
long will Pat Riley wait to take over this team?!
The Heat are poised to simply dominate in the regular season. but
when the playoffs come let’s see how they figure out. Hate it or love
it, the Miami Heat is the main responsible for an impressive hype that
the league didn’t have since the time of the great MJ.