Miami Heat: 3 Improvements Erik Spoelstra Can Still Make to the Heat's Rotation
Erik Spoelstra has done a very good job setting the Miami Heat's rotation to begin this season. He's not overworking his stars and many of the team's role players are getting the minutes per game they deserve.
Yet, as is always the case in the NBA, there is room for improvement.
One way in which Spoelstra could improve his rotation would be to lessen Norris Cole's role in it. Cole has not lived up to the improvements expected from him entering his second season, and shouldn't be playing the same amount of minutes.
Let's further examine and determine what Spoelstra should do with Cole and look at two more rotation changes the Heat might consider making this season.
Put Rashard Lewis Back into Rotation
Not too long ago, Rashard Lewis' return to being a productive NBA scorer seemed like one of the bigger story lines for the Heat. In the Heat's first 11 games, Lewis shot 50 percent from the field and an even more impressive 53.8 percent on three-pointers while logging 15.3 minutes per contest.
But presumably due to his poor rebounding (averaging only 1.7 per game this season), Lewis has now found himself out of the Heat rotation completely, earning the dreaded "Did Not Play-Coach's Decision" in Miami's past two games.
While I completely understand decreasing Lewis' role, as the Heat clearly need to rebound and defend better, I think removing him entirely from the rotation is mistake.
Lewis' shooting prowess is especially valuable in the Heat's small-ball offense, and it should be enough to earn the 14-year veteran at least a single-digit-per-game role.
Increase Udonis Haslem's Minutes
As I just mentioned, the Heat are having difficulties on the glass, currently ranking 27th in the league in rebounds per game. While Miami is never going to be a great rebounding team, it would serve them best to improve in that area by giving the franchise's all-time leading rebounder, Udonis Haslem, a little more playing time.
Despite playing only 17.5 minutes per game, Haslem ranks third on the Heat in RPG with 5.1. His 13.9 rebounds per 48 minutes make him the Heat's best per-minute rebounder among rotation players.
Haslem's offensive game has deteriorated, with his jump shot no longer the asset it was just two years ago; however, his rebounding is too valuable for him to be be playing as little time as he is.
I'm not saying Haslem should be getting 25 minutes per game, but 21-23 a night is reasonable and would benefit the Heat.
Decrease Norris Cole's Minutes
This was supposed to be Norris Cole's breakout season; so far, it's looking like everything but.
In the 12 games he's appeared in, Cole is averaging only 4.3 points on 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He's also averaging 2.4 assists and 1.7 turnovers, which equates to a horrible 1.45 assist-to-turnover ratio. If that doesn't paint the picture of Cole's offensive struggles, then his abysmal 3.84 PER (league average is 15) should.
Yet, Cole is still averaging 18.8 minutes per game. I understand Cole's worth on the defensive end, but his poor offensive play negates much of that value.
The good news: Miami has plenty of solid ball-handlers and playmakers, so the need to play Cole nearly 20 minutes a night just doesn't exist.
The Heat would be better off taking advantage of the versatility of their players and relegating Cole to a low double-digit minutes-per-game role.