By Josh Baumgard (@MiaSportsGuy)
The Heat underwent a prosperous offseason despite their limited coin, subtracting their bottom two players (Eddy Curry, Juwan Howard) for two fine shooting veterans (Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis) who have combined for 12 all-star appearances.
Toss in the fact this franchise is the reigning world champions and the rest of the league should worry. Add in the world’s best player appending these new weapons to his arsenal, and the rest of the league should be in downright panic mode.
With immense talent, comes skyscraper expectations.
Last Season By The Numbers
Record: 46-20 (.697) 2nd Eastern Conference
Finish: NBA Champions (5 Games over Thunder)
Offensive Efficiency: 6th
Defensive Efficiency: 4th
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Additions: Ray Allen (Celtics), Rashard Lewis (Couch), Josh Harrelson (Knicks)
Subtractions: Juwan Howard (Retired), Eddy Curry (Mavs STARTING center), Ronny Turiaf (Clippers)
Incorporating New Additions
Erik Spoelstra has two more snipers to play with in Allen and Lewis. The combinations are endless with Miami’s shooting and depth on the perimeter. They have an astonishing five potential rotation players with a career three point percentage of 39 percent or better (Battier, Allen, Jones, Lewis, Miller). Not even included in this group is starting guard Mario Chalmers who shot it at a career-high 39 percent last season.
LeBron James can man any position for the chameleonic Heat and he is going to spray assists all over the hardwood. Fully expect him to top his career high assist average of 8.6 back in Cleveland during the 2009-10 season. Notching ten assists nightly shouldn’t be considered that unrealistic anymore.
To put this into context, only two players – Rajon Rondo (11.7) and Steve Nash (10.7) – topped that mark last season and both are pass first point guards.
Intriguing Lineup Combinations
Defensive: Haslem – Battier – James – Wade – Cole
Despite a common misconception, Norris Cole is a better on-ball defender than Mario Chalmers. Mario isn’t as quick laterally and gambles too much on potential steals, thus tallying a colossal foul rate. He averaged 4.4 fouls per 48 minutes, while the likes of Dwight Howard averaged 3.9.
This lineup features speed and quickness at every position. To watch this group work in synchronization in regards to their help side defense would be beautiful.
“Catch Us If You Can”: Bosh – James – Wade – Allen – Cole
On what Spoelstra has proclaimed a “position-less” roster, teams must prepare for anything. While this line up would likely get hammered trying to defend and rebound against bigger teams, they’d be lightning fast offensively and a horror to defend in transition.
Imagine Cole leading the break with Allen running to the corner, and the best perimeter tandem of the the past twenty years gliding out on the wing. Oh and the smooth shooting Bosh would be trailing.
Dynamic: Bosh – James – Miller – Allen – Wade
We’re talking about surrounding three stars with two shooters who both shot 45 percent from three last season. This lineup works on both ends with James’ ability to defending opposing fours with Bosh manning the five.
Shooting Frenzy: Bosh – James – Miller – Allen – Chalmers
With long range capability at every position the court spacing with this group would be silly. This would be like a game of pop-a-shot at the arcade.
Most Improved: Norris Cole – An improved jump shot will do wonders for his value.
Best Addition: Ray Allen – Wide open trifectas on the regular. The league’s all-time three point shooter could set career marks.
MVP: LeBron James – Can do it all and entering his prime.
Defense: LeBron James – With the aberrant ability to guard positions one through five, he is as special on this end as he is with the rock in his hands.
Record: 66-16 (.804) 1st in the Eastern Conference
Finish: NBA Champions (Thunder in 6) – How can you not pick the defending champions led by earth’s top player with more depth then ever before?
I chose Thunder over Lakers for two reasons. I question the Lakers’ ability to stay healthy and Kobe Bryant’s willingness to sacrifice.