Breaking Down Why Rashard Lewis Will Be Integral to Miami Heat's 2012-13 Success

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIOctober 6, 2012

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 28: Udonis Haslem #9 of the Miami Heat poses during media day at the American Airlines Arena on September 28, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

When you think of the 2012-13 Miami Heat, Rashard Lewis isn't one of the first names that comes to mind.

He's probably the fifth or six player that comes to mind, behind LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers. That's because the focus of the Heat's offseason and preseason has been the addition of Allen at the shooting guard position.

While Allen will bring important bench production to the Heat, Lewis will mean more to their overall success.

Lewis, his 6'10'' frame and his career averages of 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game will be integral to a Heat repeat this season—if only because he fills a bigger need for the Heat than Allen does. He adds frontcourt depth and production to a Heat team that seriously lacks it heading into the 2012-13 season.

Last season the Heat had just 14.8 points and 15.4 rebounds per game in frontcourt production from their second unit, and that's not going to cut it this season.

While Lewis has the size of a power forward, he plays more like a small forward with the perimeter game to match. On paper that doesn't equal frontcourt help for the Heat, but just having his size on the court gives the Heat some much-needed flexibility with their bench rotation.

With his size, Lewis will be able to draw his defender out of the paint. That in turn will open up lanes and scoring opportunities for players like LeBron and Wade.

Unlike Allen, Lewis has a versatility to his game that will benefit the Heat.

Over the span of his 14-year NBA career, Lewis has averaged 38.8 percent from beyond-the-arc with an average of 4.7 three-pointers attempted per game. To put that into perspective, Allen's 16-year career average is 40 percent, with 5.9 attempts per game.

Lewis' averages aren't that far off of Allen's. When you combine his three-point shooting with his ability to back down defenders and create mismatches off the dribble, Lewis' versatility will be integral to the Heat's success this season.

While Allen is getting all of the attention as the Heat's biggest offseason addition, Lewis will quietly become the focal point of the Heat's bench rotation.

Don't be shocked when Lewis' name comes up in the conversation for the 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. He's going to be that good this season.

The 2012-13 season is his best shot at an NBA title, and that will fuel one of his most productive years in recent memory.