On paper, the signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis look like gems for the Miami Heat. While these moves have the potential to be the deciding factors come playoff time, they could also end in disaster.
Allen will come into the season at a well-seasoned 37 years of age. That being said, it's safe to say he is a few years past his prime.
There is no doubt that Allen has been able to preserve his solid play over the past few seasons, thanks to the fact that he lives and dies by the long ball. Statistically, he is the best three-point shooter to ever play in the NBA, but he remains a par defender at best.
Looking at Miami last season, it was apparent that their game plan was to play tough defense in order to force turnovers and bad decisions in order to run the fast break. Allen still has plenty of mobility for a veteran, but he is coming off a surgery to fix a bum ankle that hampered him in the playoffs and will not be a valuable defender.
The Heat should also not make it a main focus to include Allen as a main part of the offense. This may sound odd, but let's not forget both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both do their best work with isolation situations. Not only is Allen a half-court player, but he cannot consistently create his own shot at this point in his career.
We have to remember that Allen is a future Hall of Fame player. Yes, he is one of the best shooters in history, but he is at the tail end of his career and would benefit from seeing a smaller role than he did with the Boston Celtics.
Miami's other key signing, Rashard Lewis, comes into play at an extremely cheap bargain compared to his ridiculous contract of the past. Not only has the forward watched both his playing time and production drastically drop over the past few seasons, but he's also battled injury.
Lewis has always been considered a valuable player because of his length and ability to stretch the floor with his deep ball, but after shooting 24 percent from three-point land last season, his days as a must-watch player could be done. Without his shot going, he isn't an effective offensive player and will become a liability at times.
Overall, both of these moves can make or break Miami's playoff run. While they remain undersized, it was questionable if this team should have focused on bringing in a mid-level center to fill a glaring hole.
In reality, not many of the big men on the free-agent market were true difference-makers that could help Miami. The average center would likely slow down a fast-paced team as well as clog the middle for slashing players.
So with Allen and Lewis both inked for next season instead, Miami must remain focused on what got them to the NBA Finals.
Both players come into a rotation stacked with guards and forwards who can hit long jumpers. Mike Miller and Shane Battier are battle-tested veterans who should not see a decrease in an offensive role. Both were crucial in the Finals and made a major impact in getting Miami over the hump.
Along with Miller and Battier, Miami brings two point guards who also showed up big last season. Mario Chalmers continues to rise up in clutch situations and has really looked comfortable in his role as a starter. Norris Cole must remain a spark of energy off the bench and build on his impressive rookie campaign.
It's vital for Miami not to fully replace these players while healthy and effective. Each player had shining moments in the NBA Finals and have created what looks like a well-oiled machine.
Ray Allen will see the bigger role from the beginning. He can provide some much-needed scoring off the bench as well as giving Miami a needed consistent option.
While Lewis' role is questionable at this point, it's critical for him to find his jumper and remain focused on basketball. He is not the most physical player in the league, but he has a long frame and can grab rebounds, which Miami lacked last season.
If Miami can find ways to utilize both of these new pieces, there is very little stopping the Heat from winning their second straight championship. If they do not mesh, it could prove to be fatal if not acknowledged.