Well, let's face it. The Miami Heat is comprised of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That's how it was last year, that's how it will be this year, and that's how it's going to be for a while. Mario Chalmers has his moments and does the job at point guard, but he won't surprise anyone. He'll continue to be adequate.
But Ray Allen... Allen's going to surprise some people this year.
I could have written this article about anyone surprising, but the problem with that is, who else is going to surprise for the Heat? They have no big men (aside from Bosh) who can do much, Udonis Haslem is marginally good at this point in his career, and Shane Battier is great defensively and as a clubhouse guy, but he can't do much on the other side of the ball.
The best candidate for me, for a brief moment (after realizing that the potentially talented Justin Hamilton would be playing in Europe), was Mike Miller.
And the main reason that Mike Miller isn't the subject of this article is because Allen is essentially going to take over all of Miller's worth. Miller was a reliable three-point shooter last year and had a few big games, and though he was inconsistent, he showed that he has value from long range.
But that's why Ray Allen was brought in, and the Heat are going to get a rejuvenated, refocused Allen.
Allen's tenure with Boston was obviously winding down last season, and his playoff production was nothing short of horrible. He played injured, which was admirable for him, but he did more damage than good in the playoffs.
Allen is now 37 years old. He was playing on a team in Boston that had a dynamic big three a few years ago, but all three of them were aging and still expected to contribute at superstar levels. Rajon Rondo emerged as the team's new superstar, and the Boston Celtics knew that their big three no longer included Allen.
But now he's coming to Miami with a fresh start. At 37 years old, the Heat know what they have to do with him—let James, Bosh and Wade do most of the heavy lifting, and leave Allen on the perimeter to shoot the ball.
This is going to give Allen less of a workload and less responsibilities on the court, and he's not going to be viewed as a superstar. He'll be viewed as a valuable commodity, which will lift a lot of weight off of his shoulders. The lowered responsibilities on and off the court, increased openness on the court and a better team around him (sorry Celtics fans), are all reasons that Allen's production is going to get a major boost.
Last season, Allen posted a lackluster stat line of: 34 MPG, 14.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.1 SPG. But he did shoot well above his career averages from the field in both field goal percentage (2011/12: 45.8%, career: 45.2%) and three-point percentage (2011/12: 45.3%, career: 40.0%).
This indicates that, while Allen saw a dip in production, he still has his talent. He took significantly fewer shots last season and played more like a role player, and as a result, he was defended like one. He exploited that when he shot efficiently. We're just going to cough the bad postseason up to a bad ankle and an overworked player.
His role with Miami will be similar to his role in his final year in Boston. He will be a role player, and he won't be expected to score 20 points per game like he once was. He simply isn't the playmaker that he used to be.
But it's going to lead to more production for Allen. With teams so concerned about guarding James, Wade and Bosh, Allen is going to have even more wide-open looks, and he's going to keep hitting them.
Don't be surprised if he sees fewer minutes per game... 28 is a reasonable number, down from 34 last season. But also don't be surprised if he exceeds last year's relatively disappointing pure production.
With the Heat's play-style, as long as he is used correctly, Allen could score 17 points per game. That's a lot for someone who, by the end of the season, will be turning 38 years old.
From what I gather, Heat fans are excited to have Allen in town but don't think that the sharpshooter will do much more than shoot three-pointers. They're right, but that's not a bad thing.
After all, this is arguably the greatest three-point shooter to ever play the game. This is what he does, and he still does it remarkably well. The Heat are giving Allen a much less strenuous workload, and his production is going to be markedly better.
Maybe not the "surprising" underdog player that I wanted to write about when starting this article, but honestly, who else was I going to write about? Dexter Pitman? It's too bad Justin Hamilton is taking his talents to Europe, I think he would've done well in Miami.
But so will Allen—a player that will be revived from what was a disastrous and nearly career-ending postseason performance in 2012.
Be excited Heat fans. You guys have a pretty good team to cheer for, and Allen is going to come up big.
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