The Miami Heat's Top 5 Training Camp Storylines
With less than two weeks left until the opening of training camp in Miami, the NBA season continues to inch closer and closer. This leaves us fans to debate and attempt to correctly predict what will take place in the league this year.
The Miami Heat will look to defend their title this season after finding themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum in the Finals during the last two years.
Pat Riley did what Pat Riley does and brought in even more talent this summer with hopes of contending for years and years to come. Hoping he found the proper balance of veteran experience and young talent, Miami Heat training camp could prove to be one of the more interesting ones this offseason.
Dexter Pittman vs. Mickell Gladness: Final Roster Spot
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As much as I personally want to see Dexter Pittman finally succeed and break through with the Miami Heat, there's no doubt that he's running out of time.
Mickell Gladness on the other hand is a long, lanky, athletic big man who seems to better fit the mold of a Heat big man at this point and time.
Nevertheless, as I've alluded to in many of my other articles, Pittman's size is now something rarely seen in today's NBA. It could be nice to have size like that on the roster, despite his limited skill set.
When it comes down to it, which ever big man they choose, the Heat will be gaining one thing and losing another.
Pittman may have a guaranteed contract, but that does not mean he has a guaranteed spot on the team and it's clear that he's been skating on thin ice for a very long time now. It may be Gladness's time to shine, or at least put on a jersey.
This competition is sure to be a heated one, no pun intended.
Ray Allen vs. Shane Battier: Who Gets the Clutch Minutes?
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Last year, the Miami Heat's closing line-up often times consisted of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, and Mario Chalmers or Mike Miller. But, with the acquisition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, programming is subject to change.
Battier was looked to less and less as a defensive stopper as the season wore on, as James proved his dominance on both sides of the floor. Instead, he was deemed a shooter, and to his credit, hit some big shots coming down the stretch for Miami.
However, the Heat now welcome Allen to the team. He's a player who is no stranger to hitting clutch shots in the last minutes or seconds of a game. How can you not have him out on the floor with the clock winding down? He's clearly proven.
The biggest knock against Allen would have to be his defense, but with a closing line-up consisting of Wade and James, two of the league's premier perimeter defenders, how big an issue could it really be?
It will be interesting to see who steps in as that closer with the Heat. Maybe we'll see a line-up consisting of both of them, but it seems as though Spoelstra likes having as many ball handlers out there as possible, which makes sense for Chalmers to get big minutes in the fourth quarter.
Two formidable options, one position, and a very important match-up to keep an eye on in training camp.
Rashard Lewis vs. Udonis Haslem: Clashing Play Styles
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Udonis Haslem has the most tenure with this Heat team, along with Dwyane Wade. However, his tenure won't do him much good in the NBA when it comes to earning minutes.
With Rashard Lewis on board in Miami, Haslem better get it together, and get it together quick. He may have been a great rebounder for the Heat off the bench this last season, but his normally consistent jump shot was often times non-existent.
Lewis is one of the better shooting big men in the league and his range extends far beyond the free throw line. If he can work up any ounce of toughness and willingness to rebound, he could find himself being a key player in the Heat's rotation this season. However, it's no secret he's lacked any kind of toughness on the court for as long as he's been in the league.
If the Heat could combine these two guys they'd be set. Instead, once again Spoelstra will have to decide whether or not he wants toughness and rebounding out there on the floor, or yet another guy who can stretch the floor for his superstars.
Norris Cole vs. Mario Chalmers: Who's the Point Guard with More Potential?
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Last season Cole had the breakout rookie season that nobody expected. Surely he will be included a lot more on other team's game plans this year.
Nevertheless, it only makes sense to ask the question,"Cole or Chalmers?" as the years wear on.
Cole is the cheaper option, that goes without saying. He's arguably quicker and plays with supreme confidence no matter who's in front of him.
Has Chalmers maxed out? Have we seen him play the best basketball he'll ever play during his NBA career? He may be a young player, but he undoubtedly benefits from the open looks he receives courtesy of playing with Wade, James, and Bosh.
True, Chalmers has the proper mentality to play with the Heat, but is that really something Cole could not obtain?
Look for Chalmers to go out and prove just how expendable he is to Miami this season, considering this may be his last year roaming South Beach on his days off. It's important for him to start thinking about his future.
Meanwhile, Cole will be playing with the hopes of making it clear that last season was no fluke. This is arguably the best head-to-head match up going into Miami Heat training camp. Stay tuned.
Dwyane Wade vs. Father Time: Will Time Remain Undefeated?
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Dwyane Wade was not himself last season, especially during the playoffs, yet the Heat still managed to win it all.
After sitting out after having surgery, sitting out the Olympics, and seemingly spending a lot of quality time with his sons, Wade will come in more focused and motivated than ever to reach the top once again.
The thing is, last year it was as though he would try to do things that he could do with ease years ago and realize he's no longer that guy early in his twenties who took over the 2006 NBA Finals.
The most important thing for Wade this season is to maintain his body and to keep away from reckless situations. He should be much healthier at the beginning of the season, but it's not how you begin, it's how you finish.
This situation also rest on Spoelstra's decision making. Get Wade rest when he can. It's better to treat him older than what he really is and how he feels, rather than overuse him during the regular season.
Wade isn't competing with anybody on the roster, but he does have to compete with Father Time every day and that can get exhausting. This match up might be the most important for Miami as they look to Heat-peat this season.