Miami Heat: 5 Ways Eddy Curry Can Impact the Team

John Friel@@JohnFtheheatgodAnalyst IJanuary 26, 2012

Miami Heat: 5 Ways Eddy Curry Can Impact the Team

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    Yes, surprisingly enough it takes more than three games to get into a rhythm after not playing a professional basketball game since Dec. 17, 2009.

    Eddy Curry might as well either be a rookie or a player just coming off a devastating injury. He's playing in a completely new environment and out of his element. The Miami Heat today aren't a franchise like the New York Knicks of years past that were lenient on Curry's weight problems and overall lack of commitment to the game.

    When you endure Heat training camp, you make a commitment then and there. They have one of the most arduous workouts in the training camp, and it would help anyone lose a great deal of weight. Curry has added that he's lost 15 pounds on account of it, which he claims to add up to nearly 100 pounds of weight shed.

    It's obvious to see that Curry's committed to making a return and to this team. He's not on here just to make a paycheck—$1 million isn't enough to support your average basketball player these days—and is looking to make his presence felt as soon as these pesky conditioning issues disappear in the near future.

    When they do, let's see five ways Curry can impact the team.

Much Needed Size

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    The Miami Heat have a decent amount of size. Probably more than what many other teams possess. The only problem is that they don't know how to utilize that size.

    In fact, last year the Heat were overstocked on size. With guys like Jamaal Magloire and Erick Dampier filling the paint and the lengthy arms of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Heat didn't do as bad a job defending the painted area as many believed. Those three players were just too old and slow to make a legitimate impact, and it hurt the Heat because they needed reliability at that position.

    So they sent out a 6'9" power forward to do the job instead. An outstanding defensive power forward yes, but a power forward nonetheless.

    The Heat shed those three aforementioned players, but still have two players who can truly fill out the paint. Dexter Pittman, a center who formerly weighed 400 pounds and still has some baby fat, and Eddy Curry, another member of the 400-pound club, have replaced the Heat's many decrepit centers from last year.

    Pittman is incredibly raw. He has the size to become a bruiser and a player who could dish out a few hard fouls while keeping the paint on lockdown, but for now he's just awkward, uncoordinated and considerably overweight. That means the Heat are down to two "centers" in Curry and Anthony. Miami can only go for so long with Joel as their center, which could mean that Curry begins getting significant minutes.

    Curry isn't much at the moment, except being a body. That's pretty much all the Heat need to thrive in the middle on the defensive end. They don't need the next Dwight Howard or Dikembe Mutombo. They just need a player who can pack the paint, deter slashers and intimidate the opposition into bad shots.

    I'd be scared of Curry. Especially if these allegations are true.

A New Look Rotation?

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    Currently, the Miami Heat's starting lineup reads as Mario Chalmers at the one, Dwyane Wade at two, LeBron James at three, Chris Bosh at four and Joel Anthony at five.

    Usually the first player off the bench will be Shane Battier, but that is subject to change with Mike Miller recuperating from a sports hernia surgery that caused him to miss the first few weeks of the season. Udonis Haslem is usually the first big man off the bench and provides immediate help on the defensive end, as well as for the rebounding woes.

    At center, the Heat don't have to much to go to. It's either Joel Anthony or bust pretty much before they utilize power forwards like Bosh and Haslem to man the paint. It's not exactly fair to either of these players since they're pure power forwards, but everyone on this team has to make sacrifices in order to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a title.

    Currently, Eddy Curry has no right playing more than five minutes per game. What do you expect from a guy who's coming off an injury he suffered during training camp and also hasn't played since Dec. 17, 2009? It's going to take a large amount of time before Curry gets into basketball shape, and we may not see that until the end of the season, and possibly even further on into next season.

    The important thing is that the Heat do get Curry into basketball shape. Ween him on the court over time by giving him increased minutes over each game. Over time, he'll become more acclimated and adjusted to the significant amount of minutes he'll be playing and will be ready to play as any other relevant center would.

    Plus, he's only 29 and cheap. The Heat have plenty of time.

    If this Curry experiment works according to plan, then he'll be starting as soon as he's proven that he can score, rebound, play defense and get perfectly adjusted to playing a full 48 minutes. Once the Heat have that, they can slide Joel to the bench and have two terrific post defenders come off the bench at the same time.

Rebounding from Someone Else

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    Surprisingly, the Heat rank 12th in rebounds per game with nearly 44.

    I say this is surprising because the team has no pure center, has only one player at 7' or taller and seem to get killed on the boards every game, specifically on the offensive glass. It's not even a size issue, but more along the lines of a fundamental size. It's not about size when it comes to rebounding. As long as you find a man and box him out, you're going to get the rebound nearly every time.

    There's a big difference between being just tall and being tall and boxing out. It makes all the difference when you give an effort on the boards, even if it means having to work just to secure a rebound. Rebounding is too vital to the game to continue making weak performances at; the Heat need to just give a better effort on cleaning up the glass and playing smart, fundamental basketball.

    Still, some size wouldn't hurt. As I stated before, the Heat have the size but don't know how to use it. They have guys like Dexter Pittman and Eddy Curry who can take up space as well as the length and athleticism of Mickell Gladness. The problem with those three, however, is that they don't have the proper fundamentals or coordination to make a true impact be felt.

    Pittman and Gladness are too raw to work on. They could use some more work in the D-League before they can step onto an NBA court to be perfectly honest. That leaves the Heat with just Joel Anthony and Curry as their rebounding options at center. With Anthony only averaging five boards per and mostly being utilized for defensive purposes, Curry could possibly be used as the player that can rebound at the position.

    It would add some versatility to the position if the Heat have a rebounder at first and then a shot blocker. It's a strange use of versatility, but it still provides the Heat with a capable rebounder. With three players averaging eight boards or better and a bench player in Udonis Haslem leading the team in boards per at nine, adding a seven-footer to this equation certainly would not hurt.

Added Offense

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    You might think it's rather hilarious that Eddy Curry would represent himself as an offensive crutch at this stage in his career, but it's actually quite the opposite, especially because of his team.

    Anything on the Heat is an improvement in their offense if they can replace Joel Anthony. If they're replacing a player who averaged two points per at a key position in 20 minutes last year, the chances are extremely likely that you're going to find some sort of step up from the player before. Any replacement for Anthony would represent itself as an improvement.

    Currently, Joel is averaging four points per, which is just thrilling to view. He's scoring on a hook shot that can't seem to miss and is actually finishing around the rim. In one instance in their win over the Detroit Pistons, the ball was actually fed into the post to Joel with the sole purpose of getting a score. Somehow, it worked and the Heat did get a score.

    Even with Joel showing some sort of an offensive skill set, it would still be a tremendous improvement to have Curry in the lineup with his influence alone. He may not be much at the moment, but Curry will be utilized an offensive option. This is the same player that averaged 20 points only a few years back and underneath that exterior lies an NBA player that can score prolifically for a player at his size.

    The big three need to find a player in the post that they can rely on to catch and finish. With Haslem struggling to find an offensive rhythm and Joel Anthony being Joel Anthony, the Heat need to get that big man who can either deviate some attention off the big three or get open enough for a pass off the drive from one of those three slashers.

    Curry isn't much right now. He can barely get off the ground and can't run, but we can't assume that he's going to be that kind of player for the rest of the year. This is still a seven-footer that averaged double-digit points for six consecutive seasons so there is a player in that body who once had a shred of offensive consistency.

    Like I said, it doesn't take much to be a step up on the offensive end when it comes to finding the starting center of the future.

Extra Motivation

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    The Miami Heat are composed of motivated individuals who all joined up on this one franchise for the sole purpose of winning a title.

    There are only two NBA champions on this team, with those two being 2006 title winners Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. That championship, however, is a lot further in the past than you could envision. Since that title win, the Heat have never even gotten close to that point up until last season when they made it back to the NBA Finals. Prior to receiving LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat didn't get past the first round from 2007 to 2010.

    Tough to blame Wade and Haslem when they were the two best players on those teams. 2007 and 2008 were injury-plagued and 2009 and 2010 were filler years with Jermaine O'Neal and Michal Beasley as the Heat's two leading contributors. It's been ugly since that title win, and there's no doubt that Haslem and Wade want to taste the glory of winning an NBA title soon.

    LeBron James and Chris Bosh? Both players who suffered from being primary scoring options with little help from their supporting cast for seven seasons. James saw more success in Cleveland because of the improvement of the roster and his overall influence, but the effect was just the same. These two were far and away better than all of their former teammates, and it caused too large a parity come playoff time when balanced was needed.

    Those two didn't want to stay in Cleveland and Toronto anymore. As disappointed as they were to depart from the franchises that drafted them, they have to make the smart move of going to the team that has the intention of winning a title and already has the roster to make that happen. Neither the Cavaliers or Raptors were ready for that type of commitment.

    What I'm attempting to convey is that this is an extremely motivated team. They're not only one to prove that are capable of making this experiment work in order to win a championship, but just to prove to themselves that they can do this together. After coming so close last season especially, winning a title has become all the more significant.

    Curry fits perfectly into this equation. He hasn't exactly had championship aspirations with Chicago or New York in a past life, but he sure seems to be a different type of player from the one in their first tenure. This Eddy Curry seems to actually care about winning and having success. It's not about individual success like it was in his first NBA stint—this is about so much more.

    If you want your team to be successful, you need to sport a team with a collective group that are playing together with one intent and one purpose in mind. Curry may not be the type of player to wrap into the big three, but he is just like them when it comes to making a statement about themselves as a basketball player and human.

    Curry's attempting to comeback from voluntarily exiting the NBA. He realizes that he wasted his first chance to thrive in the league, and he's now looking to make his presence felt once again with a clearer purpose in mind. The Heat won't allow Curry, or any other player for that matter, to get deterred in any way as there are too many motivated individuals that are looking to propel this team to the next level.

    This is a player who wants to perform well and make his return, which adds one more motivated individual to this squad. You can never have enough players that are playing with a purpose. There are too many NBA players who play just for the money, and it's obvious to tell when you see that player. None of those types of players reside on the Heat.

    With Curry being added to the squad, you have one more player to boost this team's collective confidence. There isn't much that can get this team going. Surely, a player that's lost 100 pounds in the span of less than a year can help achieve that.