Predicting the Miami Heat's 8 Biggest Surprises and Breakout Players in 2012-13
The Miami Heat were one of the most exciting teams to watch last year, and this year should prove to be no different.
Needless to say, with the signings of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the expectations are through the roof.
As always, during Miami's pursuit for a Heat-peat, throughout the 2012-2013 season they will experience some ups and downs.
Things nobody can foreshadow may come about, but I'm here to give you my take on some of the biggest surprises and breakout players you can expect to see when watching the Heat this upcoming season.
Welcome Back Flash
That being said, Wade did not put up bad numbers last year. Granted, they weren't the best, but one can still argue they were of superstar caliber.
Don't write off Flash just yet; he may be getting up there, but it's safe to say that he's still got a few solid years underneath his belt.
Dexter Pittman Plays
Pittman is by far the biggest guy on the Miami Heat's roster.
He may not be the most talented big in the league, but the bottom line is he's big.
The Eastern Conference has multiple teams with big guys ready to demolish the Heat's thin front line. Andrew Bynum, Roy Hibbert and Tyson Chandler will be familiar foes to Miami not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs where they're likely to run into at least one of these talented bigs.
The Pittman project has been in play for a while now; it's about time some progress surfaces.
This is his opportunity to prove his worth and play his a key part on a team contending for a title.
Look for Miami to work him early and often in hopes of preparing him for important minutes down the stretch.
Season Opener Stunner
The Heat will be receiving their championship rings on opening night in front of an excited and ecstatic home crowd.
How much sweeter could it get than trying that ring on for the first time in front of their Boston rivals?
Well the high won't last long because the Celtics will come out with vengeance on their minds.
People have quickly forgotten about the revamped men in green since the developments in L.A. and the signing of Ray Allen for the Heat.
But Boston is looking younger, better, faster and more athletic than they have in a long, long time and have managed to keep their core guys intact, aside from one of course.
It will take them a while to develop some consistent chemistry, but I can promise you this: They won't back down for one second against the Heat on opening day.
Meet the New 76ers
Bynum is exactly where he wants to be: being the No. 1 option in a city with a bank.
Give this team a couple of years to be true contenders in the East, but don't sleep on them this year.
Evan Turner was playing well throughout the season and Jrue Holiday is one of the better young point guards in the league.
I could easily see it being the 76ers and Heat battling for the No. 1 spot in the next few years to come, especially once some of the older Celtics call it quits a little bit down the road.
The 76ers aren't quite back to being NBA Finals-bound, but with the acquisition of Bynum, they are moving quickly in the right direction.
Who Knew LeBron Could Get Even Better
We will see LeBron James continue to improve as a player during the 2012-2013 NBA season.
I know, I know, you didn't think it was possible. Well, you weren't alone. But as good as James is, there are still a couple of holes in his game.
Expect LeBron to come back with a more consistent outside jumper, better moves in the post and an overall gradual improvement as the season progresses.
This is to be expected because that's what greats do, and LeBron is indeed on his way towards greatness.
Ray Allen Shows His Worth Early and Often
As much as the Heat will try to ease Ray Allen into the offense, it won't be hard for him to step in and knock down shots. That's what he's done his whole career.
Allen is one of the best shooters the league has ever seen. LeBron is one of the most talented players the league has ever seen. And the Heat are one of the most bizarre teams the NBA has ever known.
Don't expect it to take long for Allen to find his stroke with Miami.
Knocking big shots comes about as easy as breathing to him, no matter what jersey he's in.
It won't take long for Allen to prove why acquiring him was such a priority for Pat Riley during the offseason.
Chris Bosh will be playing more center than ever before for the Heat this season.
It seems as though Miami has fully committed to small ball.
Well, what this means is quite simple for Bosh: He's got to board.
Yes, he's playing alongside LeBron and Wade, two of the better wing rebounders in the league.
But, at the end of the day there's no reason he should not average a double-double with Miami. Bosh will come into this season with an understanding of this nature and dominate the boards like he should.
As a result, Wade and LeBron will get out on even more fast breaks and Miami's defense will translate to offense smooth as can be.
We've seen Eric Spoelstra put some unique lineups out on the floor before, and this year will be no different.
With the acquisition of Allen, Miami will surely look to have him out on the floor when it matters most. Meaning we might see a lineup of Wade, Allen, James, Bosh, Battier/Lewis.
The Heat have a lot of interchangeable pieces.
What many people consider the two most important positions in basketball, point guard and center, the Heat will likely finish the game without.
The first two years for the Heat during this Big 3 era have been quite different from one another. Every year the formula must be altered when it comes to competing for a title, an important concept for a team looking to run off multiple championships must understand.
Working Allen and Lewis into the rotation will present its own issues, while Miami must also deal with much greater competition in the East this year than last.
Unique lineups, unique team, unique situation—and what should be yet another unique year for the Heat during the 2012-2013 NBA season.