Ray Allen must be one of the happiest men alive.
After signing with the Miami Heat, Allen now gets a chance to do what many others in America yearn for.
He has the chance to spend the rest of his career and maybe even retire in southern Florida, where he can play golf, spend endless hours on the beach, and gaze at beautiful women all he wants.
Oh, and in the meantime, he gets to make millions of dollars to play basketball.
Secondary benefits aside, how well will an aging Allen fit in with the Heat when they already have one of the league’s best shooting guards in Dwyane Wade? Not to mention other sharpshooters Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and James Jones?
Quite well, actually.
Allen will most likely come off the bench, since Wade already starts at the shooting guard spot.
There is one small sliver of hope, though.
If the Heat continue to use the unconventional starting lineup they used in the NBA Finals (with LeBron James and Chris Bosh down low as the two big men), Allen would likely start alongside Wade and Mario Chalmers.
Miami Head Coach Erik Spoelstra usually prefers a traditional starting lineup. He prefers one traditional point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center, all of which would leave Allen out.
Allen should be playing in crunch time, most likely alongside LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and either Chalmers or Battier, depending on who Miami faces.
Since LeBron and Bosh decided to join Wade in South Beach, the Heat have concentrated on collecting supporting players who can knock down open three-pointers. This makes sense, given how Wade and LeBron collapse opposing defense, leaving their teammates wide open for jumpers.
Miller, Battier, and Jones have best filled this role, but none of them can bring it like a healthy Ray Allen can.
Over the past two regular seasons (and just the 2012 season for Battier), those three hit 327 out of 819 three pointers, for a 39.9 percentage.
In the postseason, that success rate dipped 38.1 percent. These are good percentages, but could be better considering that almost all these shots are taken without a defender in sight.
Enter Ray Allen.
Not only is he the all-time leader in career three pointers made (2718), but he seems to be getting better.
The past two seasons, Allen put up three point percentages of 44.4 and 45.3, both of which are higher than any other season in his career.
Last year in the playoffs, he connected on an amazing 57.1 percent. This past year’s playoffs saw his production drop. He was battling with bone spurs in his right ankle, which forced him into surgery after Boston lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals.
That should be the one red flag for Miami. Allen will turn 37 on July 20, so he’s not getting any younger.
As his body continues to age, he becomes more susceptible to injuries that could greatly diminish his production. But taking on a schedule that doesn’t require teams to play seven games in nine nights, Allen should experience a healthier 2013 campaign.
Typically, you want your role players to bring more than just their specialization (which, in this case, is shooting.)
For example, beside the ability to knock down open shots, Miller brings scrappiness, effort, and rebounding. Battier brings maturity, defense, and a high basketball IQ.
Ray Allen brings more to the court than just his picture-perfect stroke.
He has always been an underrated defender.
He may not be able to shut down a Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant, but Ray Allen can more than hold his own against the good scorers in the NBA.
He is also an underrated slasher. His outstanding shooting ability allows him to "pump fake" and send defenders flying into the air before cutting to the hole for an easy layup.
His free-throw shooting (89.4 percent throughout his career) finally gives the Heat a go-to guy for technical foul shots, and for when trailing teams begin playing the foul game.
Perhaps the most beneficial extra Ray Allen brings is his ability to catch a pass on the run and still nail the shot, as if he had all the time in the world to prepare. This will allow Miami’s Big Three to take multiple possessions off. They can simply set screens, while Allen runs around, waiting until he is open for a shot.
Miami Heat fans should be thrilled with their latest free-agent acquisition.
Allen turned down twice as much money to stay in Boston, and he could have started in Los Angeles as a Clipper. But he went with the worst of both worlds—less money and a bench role—to pursue more rings for his hardware collection.
This shows that Ray Allen will do whatever it takes to win. This attitude should help keep the Miami Heat from becoming too complacent with just one championship title.
Welcome to Miami, Ray.
I’m sure you’ll fit in just great.
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