Are the Miami Heat proof you can actually have too much of a good thing?
They certainly have the potential to be, which is why Dwyane Wade may be entering the most pivotal season of his illustrious career.
After an offseason that saw South Beach's finest add two former All-Stars to the docket, the team is now left to sift through the fortress of talent they have assembled over the past two years.
Though that hardly seems like a problem, or even a task the Heat should be concerned with, piecing together a championship machine is no easy feat. As Miami proved just a season ago, championships cannot be won on household names and their potential alone.
And while the Heat are now one season and one championship ring wiser, they're also plenty of more pieces deep. The product Miami will put out on the floor for the 2012-13 campaign is significantly more complex than the one of 2010-11, and even the one from last year's crusade.
According to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida (via Sulia), Wade himself knows this:
Dwayne Wade admits it will be a "challenge'' to get all the talent on the #Heat to mesh.
“We have a lot of guys that are so used to being kind of the main focus and not a lot of us are going to be the main focus now,’’ Wade said. “So that’s a challenge to see how we all can incorporate ourselves within our offense and keep each other happy.’’
Which is why it is important that they they disprove any chemistry concerns early. As LeBron James and Wade himself will attest to, few realities are more gruesomely distracting than the ones that doubt your cohesion on a daily basis.
How do the Heat do this? How do they integrate Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and most likely Josh Harrellson into an attack that is already lined with the likes of James, Wade, Chris Bosh and plenty of other company?
Enter Wade, who along with Udonis Haslem, is the longest tenured member of this squad.
We all know that James will be expected to carry Miami towards another title. He is the league's reigning MVP, the most athletically inclined specimen the NBA has ever seen and a perpetually durable triple-double threat.
But he cannot do it alone. While James is expected to lead statistically, the Heat will be built around what he wants to do with the ball as a facilitator.
To a certain extent, they'll also be built around Wade's tendencies, but unlike James, he is at a point in his career where he can lead by example by adapting to those around him, not the other way around.
In Wade, Miami has an athlete who is just as versatile as James, save for a consistent three-point shot. What the team also has in him, though, is an aging rim-rocker operating on surgically repaired knees.
Does that mean he's not a star, someone who the Heat can no longer depend on to score, slash, defend and rebound? Absolutely not. Wade's body hasn't exactly aged gracefully, but his stat lines have.
Yet at 30, going on 31, attacking the rim with reckless abandon is a surefire way of inflicting further injury upon himself.
Meaning it's time for a change.
In the form of James, Wade has been afforded a luxury Kobe Bryant never has—another top-tier playmaker. Subsequently, when the shooting guard adapts his game to meet the needs of his team and his body, he doesn't have to become a habitually inefficient jump shooter; he can focus on other aspects of his game and address other areas of need.
Like the collective cohesion of Miami's re-tooled roster.
Last season, Wade's 22.1 points and 17.1 field-goal attempts were second only to LeBron's averages of 27.1 and 18.9, respectively. The Heat no longer need that kind of output from Wade, not with the additions of Allen, Lewis, Harrellson and the staples that have become Bosh, Shane Battier and even Mike Miller.
What Miami needs from Wade now is for him to become more of a catalyst, someone who fuels the offense, but not necessarily through his scoring.
Much like James, Wade is a prolific passer. He averaged 4.6 assists per game last season—once again, second only to LeBron—and has dished out 6.2 per contest for his career. And he can squelch any of the Heat's current naysayers by placing a greater emphasis on that—facilitating.
Yes, the offense will still run through James and he will remain the team's primary ball-handler, but Wade will be a close second. Not to mention that his role as a facilitator doesn't cease to exist off the ball.
Instead of cutting up to the top of the three-point line to take the ball himself, why not set an off-ball screen for an Allen, Lewis, Harrellson, Miller or Battier? Why not free Mario Chalmers up for some open looks on the outside?
And why not run some additional pick-and-pops with Bosh to ensure he doesn't become stale offensively? The same goes for Haslem.
Because that right there is the Heat's biggest potential pitfall.
All those names, all those players are capable of doing so many things offensively, and it becomes difficult to satisfy each of their needs to a respectable degree. And being relegated to the bottom of the priority barrel on offense, could breed resentment and a refusal to perform on defense. Somewhat obviously, it disrupts any potential offensive fluidity as well.
An arsenal of firepower such as the Heat's calls for an additional spark, someone willing to not diminish his worth or responsibility to the team, but someone willing diversify it.
That someone is not James, it's Wade.
He can be that spark, that player who transforms his role in order to balance Miami's cumbersome attack, the pillar who takes it upon himself to silence the skeptics.
Even more importantly, Wade can be the one who turns a crowded rotation into a synchronized championship foray.
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