In one of the most widely reported acquisitions of the 2012 NBA offseason, the defending champion Miami Heat signed former rival Ray Allen to a three-year deal.
The move has since made waves with fans and Allen's former teammates alike, causing an even larger bullseye to rest upon the chests of those South Beach ballers.
The question is, what type of impact will this signing have on the Heat?
When Pat Riley and company made the acquisition, many assumed that Allen would play the role of sixth man. Although Allen remains capable of contributing at a high level, starting shooting guard Dwyane Wade is arguably the best 2-guard in the league.
Spoelstra emphasizes that Wade and Allen will play plenty together in the backcourt.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) September 28, 2012
To the blind eye, this appears to be a recipe for disaster.
A two shooting guard backcourt lacks appeal when one considers the traditional traits of a 2. The fact that Allen is far more comfortable without the ball in his hands than he is creating off of the dribble only offers further reason for concern.
The Miami Heat, however, are in a unique position.
The defending champions have two elite ball-handling facilitators that do not play point guard. Small forward LeBron James has redefined the term point-forward, while Dwyane Wade has matched James in the assist category for nearly a decade.
Just don't assume that James and Wade are limited to statistical production.
They can run the point.
The Dynamic D-Wade
Dwyane Wade has posted career averages of 6.2 assists per game. More importantly, he's a more talented ball-handler than a majority of the NBA point guards.
As for how he passes, the Marquette alum's facilitating skills range well-beyond mere drive-and-dish tendencies. He's more than capable of running an offensive set and making backdoor passes to streaking scorers or hitting a man in motion for an open jumper.
You know, exactly what Ray Allen has made a career out of doing.
Unlike your average facilitating guard, however, Dwyane Wade remains one of the most feared scorers in the NBA. His career average of 25.2 points-per-game is a reflection of how dominant Wade can be.
Just don't be too shocked when he flirts with 40.
For that reason, defenses will not be able to close out on Ray Allen and allow D-Wade to roam freely. Unlike when Allen played with Rajon Rondo in Boston, Wade remains in need of double-teams and help defenders.
This should open up the shooting lanes for Allen to torch opposing defenses.
Someone Named LeBron...
You don't want Dwyane Wade to facilitate the offense? So be it.
Some guy named LeBron James has proven to be pretty well-versed in the art of making an offense function.
James is, arguably, the best drive-and-dish facilitator in the NBA. His ability to finish in the paint has led to teams crashing the lane in attempt to slow down the three-time MVP. For that reason, there is virtually always an open passing lane to a perimeter scorer.
Sounds like a recipe for success for the greatest three-point shooter of all time.
Allen is more than ready to thrive in catch-and-shoot situations. Although the Heat's current cast of Shane Battier, Mike Miller and James Jones is certainly reputable from distance, Allen adds a new dynamic.
LeBron now has a go-to-guy for three-point shooting.
As for Dwyane Wade, we all know how well he and LeBron James can play together. In their two years as teammates, they've made two NBA Finals appearances and won a title in 2012.
With a weapon like Ray Allen now working alongside them, it's safe to say that the Miami Heat have geared up for yet another run at some championship gold.
What About D?
Dwyane Wade may be 30 years old, but that doesn't mean he can't hang with the quicker guards in the league. In fact, Wade has proven to be one of the most well-rounded defenders in the game, as he locks down players at both guard positions.
And did we mention that he's the unquestioned best in the league at blocking jump shots?
The key for Wade has always been his focus on that end. There have been times where the superstar will spend times arguing a call on the other end. Other times we've seen D-Wade look for a way to get out in transition rather than simply preventing his opponent from scoring.
Fortunately for Erik Spoelstra and company, Ray Allen has proven to be one of the most responsible defenders in the league.
Although Allen will not lock anyone down, he stays with his man and gives a concerted effort on every possession. This influence should work well on Wade, who would be learning from the master of two-way footwork.
Could it be?
Could Wade's career averages of 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game actually improve with Ray Allen's guidance? If it's possible for this to be true, the Miami Heat just got infinitely better.
And we didn't even touch on LeBron being one of the most dominant defensive forces in the game today.
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