Breaking Down the Miami Heat Bench
As good as the Miami Heat Big 3 is, it's going to take a team effort to bring home yet another NBA championship, just like it did last season.
Key role players stepped up at different times during last year's run, and the same thing will be expected as the upcoming season wears on.
That being said, the Heat have obtained some new pieces. Consistent role players in the past have faltered in their reliability while young talent continues to come into their own.
Erik Spoelstra and company have got some decisions to make, and if they make the right ones, this season could be even better than the last for Miami.
Here's my take on what you can expect from each player coming off the Heat bench, and who you can expect to be out there on the floor the most.
Norris Cole would be relied upon much more heavily this season than the last if the Heat were not to acquire Ray Allen.
However, Cole will still find himself solidified in the rotation.
Spoelstra will look to him to provide energy off the bench on both ends of the floor. Cole has the quickness to stay in front of some of the best point guards in the league and the confidence to take it to them on offense.
Although Chalmers has established himself as the Heat's starting point guard, this is not to say that Cole is not a good player.
He's younger and faster, and his potential is through the roof. Not to mention, it will be hard for the Heat to hold onto both Chalmers and Cole after this year.
Expect Cole to see key minutes down the stretch during the season and to play lengthier minutes, especially when Chalmers is struggling.
It's not too hard to decipher what will be expected from Ray Allen off the bench. He's one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, and he was brought on to do just that.
What worries me about Allen is the decline of his defensive capabilities. That is a huge reason he never found himself starting again after coming back from his injury with the Celtics. He was playing behind Avery Bradley, one of the best young defenders in the NBA today.
However, a healthy Allen should be able to hold his own.
Do I believe the Heat's defensive intensity and effectiveness will suffer when he's on the court? Yes. But I also understand that the pathways to the basket he will open up for Wade, James and even Bosh will be unmatched.
Although you may lose a little with Allen out there on the floor, you do gain a lot more, and it won't be too hard to remain unexposed on a team like the Heat, who play excellent team defense.
As I've stated before in some of my other articles, Rashard Lewis is really the question mark coming into this season for the Heat.
Lewis has always had the potential to be a superstar in the league. He's got the size and skill set to be like a Lamar Odom type of player, who can really do it all on the court.
But just like Odom, Lewis has always been a little soft.
The day Lewis finds some toughness is the day the Heat become a whole lot better.
He can already knock down the three-point shot with ease shooting over shorter defenders, and if they get too close, he can take the slower big men attempting to guard him off the dribble.
In reality, Lewis is the exact kind of player that Pat Riley has fallen in love with—versatile with the capability to do it all.
What can we expect from Lewis this year with the Heat? That remains unknown, but just know that like always, the potential is there.
Udonis Haslem was very inconsistent last year for the Heat.
His always automatic mid-range jumper was far from it, and he struggled to find his role with this Heat team.
Luckily for him, it's a new season, and he's got the opportunity to start fresh and get back to his old ways.
The one thing you can always expect from Haslem is rebounding. Nobody knows how he does it, but sometimes it seems like he grabs 10 boards every two minutes. Despite his size, he's a machine out there.
With the acquisition of Lewis, Haslem could quickly find himself on the chopping block this season. Yet, if he gets back to being the gritty and reliant Haslem we have all grown to appreciate and love, the Heat will continue to play small ball, and we will see a lot of him at the 4 alongside Bosh.
Joel Anthony is the closest thing the Heat have to someone who can consistently protect the paint, albeit he is only 6'9".
It seems as though Miami has made the complete shift to small ball. I mean, why would they go away from it when they won a championship with it?
Then again, you've got to take a look around the league. The serious contenders this year have some of the best big men in the league, and Anthony would be the first to get a shot at them.
Not afraid to back down from anyone, Anthony sometimes shows glimpses of Alonzo Mourning-like shot blocking, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Continue to look to Anthony for nothing more than a couple of blocked shots and also some key finishes around the rim. Yes, he can do that now.
Not really sure where Mike Miller fits into the rotation with this new and improved Heat team, but he's too good a player to simply sit on the bench all season long.
As good as Allen is, even he struggles from time to time. Not to mention, he's no longer in his 20s.
That's where Miller comes in.
He can serve as Allen's reliever. He may not get as many minutes as he did last year when he oftentimes found himself on the court down the stretch, but Miller will not be completely forgotten.
The minute defenses start to sleep on him is when they will become in trouble playing the Heat.
This is the make or break year for Dexter Pittman, especially with other talented and more athletic players playing behind him patiently waiting for their chance.
The Pittman project has been in the works for years now. He's one of the bigger guys in the league with the potential to be a force down low, but he just doesn't seem to have the footwork or skill set to be a contributor on a very good Miami Heat team.
The thing is I'm not ready to write Pittman off just yet.
He may not be too polished, but you can't teach size, and needless to say, that's exactly what the Heat lack.
In reality, he doesn't even have to rebound, score points, or do much of anything to be effective for this team.
He just needs to bother the opposing centers by demanding some attention and by committing some hard fouls every now and then.
Pittman is no all-star, but it's about time he finds some type of role in Miami other than clapping from the bench.
Mickell Gladness just recently inked a new deal with the Heat. Clearly, the organization sees something in him.
Standing nearly seven feet with his long and lanky frame, Gladness could prove to be quite useful down the stretch for the Heat.
He's almost like a hybrid of the two other Heat big men. He's got Dexter Pittman's great size and Joel Anthony's athleticism.
As an undrafted center, Gladness has never really gotten much attention in the league, but there aren't many better places to make a name for himself right now other than Miami.
If he can come into his own, Gladness can work his way into the Heat rotation and end up making some major plays for them down the stretch.
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