Projecting Miami Heat Starting Lineup, Post Peak Free Agency & Summer League
Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra isn't one to be consistent with his starting lineups along the course of a NBA season. However, after a season of triumph and an NBA championship, the Heat's win in our gain. Predicting Miami's starting five to start next season doesn't need to be over thought.
A preseason warning to the Miami faithful: Ignore all critics disparaging the Heat’s inconsistent rotation throughout next season. Those doubters are merely living in the past and adhering to conventional basketball wisdom; The Heat have a roster full of multi-position players that will bring about more poisitionless lineups than the league has ever seen.
With this talented of a group, plus the additions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, Miami will be going through a vast assortment of lineups through the year. It will be commonplace to see a variation of 4th quarter pairings as well.
Turn the page to see who will take the court for the Heat's opening whistle of their title defense.
Center: Chris Bosh
Starting with Bosh is only fitting after a dominant NBA Finals performance against Oklahoma City. His willingness to defend the rim justified Miami’s small ball and hybrid lineups that Spoelstra had been utilizing since the Big Three arrived in 2010.
Miami has decided to run with that approach and now will feature Bosh at the 5 spot. His presence takes his defender out of the middle with his deep shooting range, which will opens the floodgates for Wade and LeBron to penetrate.
When he has the ball in his hands, he will challenge his bigger defender’s on-ball defense with his quickness to the paint. When the team gets out in transition, as they like to do, Bosh is an ideal trailing big man because he can shoot it from deep and finish on the move.
Having Bosh at the center spot led to a ring. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Forwards: Shane Battier and LeBron James
The absence of specific forward designations for James and Battier is irrelevant, given their defensive flexibility.
Battier took the responsibility of fronting power forwards, which gave David West and Brandon Bass fits in the postseason. Therefore, Battier's versatility frees LeBron to guard the opposing team's best wing player.
Any offense the Heat gets from Battier is an added bonus; team defenses almost have to surrender Battier's open three attempts when guarding Miami. Since Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony are not reliable offensively in that regard, Battier gets the easy nod.
Rashard Lewis could contribute similarly offensively, if not better, but he hasn't had to play serious defense his entire career. The veteran forward has a ways to go to even get extensive minutes.
LeBron as a starter is not a mystery, but how frequently he'll be used in a power forward capacity certainly is. Since James can be any position on the floor, Spoelstra got him working from the post and guarding opposing 4 man when needed.
Offensively, it's a must to get LeBron down low to create for his teammates until a team learns how to stop it. If he can churn out consistent numbers from the block, he'll be the toughest cover in the league for another eight years.
Guards: Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers
Chalmers proved his worth throughout last season, not more than in Game 4 of the NBA finals when the Heat needed buckets most. 'Rio has become a heady player the past few years, blending into the role of fourth option and not being afraid to get his fill in the point column.
Chalmers won't be getting pulled for anybody on the bench soon because he has some of the freshest legs among the guards by far. Plus, the more instances where the third-year guard can play significant minutes, the more reps he has to be ready for pressure situations in playoff time.
The real reason Chalmers will be taking the floor, though, is Spoelstra's tendency to start with a traditional setup to open games. For all this talk about positionless lineups, the Head coach likes having a Mike Bibby (2010) or Chalmers to open up the game to get his team into an offensive rhythm.
The only concern for Wade is obviously the health of his knee; the surgery has been a success and rehab is on schedule. With the increased amount of able wing players on the roster, expect him to start and finish games, but less of in between.
The Heat, knowing that a healthy Big 3 is a ticket to the East finals, will look to take a Spurs approach to keeping their more injury-prone players in substantially good health. On that note, Ray Allen could see some time at the starting SG spot during the season. The move would only be done to spell Wade if Spoelstra wants to limit his minutes.
If you've read this far, congratulations. Here's my prediction for Miami's full 10-player rotation at this juncture:
SF- Battier/LeBron/Miller/J. Jones
PF- LeBron/Haslem (D)/Lewis (O)
C- Bosh/Lewis (O)/Anthony (D)
(O)- Offensive Sub
(D)- Defensive Sub