It would be an understatement to say Heat fans are excited about Miami's matchup with Toronto tonight. The first and foremost reason is to see their new addition Chris Andersen suit up off the bench, and hopefully provide hustle, energy and interior intensity the team is sorely lacking. However, should the situation arise that Andersen is unable to live up to expectations, Pat Riley and co. need to sign the veteran center regardless.
The primary reason for adding Andersen is Miami's trouble rebounding the basketball. This doesn't stem from one end of the floor, but rather an overall issue game-to-game. The Heat currently rank dead last in rebounds per game as well as offensive rebounds per game. They are 15th in the league in terms of defensive rebounding, which can be attributed to their excellent defense on the floor.
Yet, this ranking can certainly be improved by adding Andersen. His energetic play made him a fan favorite in Denver, as well as his colorful array of tattoos and often alarming hairstyles. The "Birdman" averaged 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks off the bench in 15.2 minutes last season, which may or may not be a similar role he sees with the Heat.
Depending on where coach Erik Spoelstra inserts Andersen in the rotation, he could see a plethora of minutes or ride the pine through the rest of his 10-day contract. As seen with Rashard Lewis, the Heat coaching staff are somewhat undecided about the team's role players thus far. Lewis saw a stretch of 18 games where he played a total of 24 minutes, before averaging 15 minutes through his last four this month.
Even if Andersen is relegated to the bench over the next week or two, Miami should sign him outright regardless. The central concept around this is the Heat's lack of an energy player. Udonis Haslem, who still remains a loyal competitor for the team, once filled this role off the bench. He has looked slow this season, showing flashes of brilliance like this put-back dunk, but more often than not is a steady, low-to-the-ground big man.
Andersen is a veteran player and is accustomed to a bench role. Playing with the defending champions is incentive enough for him to accept the same playing time. The aforementioned principle holds true, however, in that Miami doesn't have that extra guy to come in and get the crowd into the game. A Wade-to-LeBron alley-oop or a Ray Allen three-pointer often does the trick, but to have a hustling athlete in Andersen would be a commodity Miami cannot pass on lightly.
With his wacky mohawk and seemingly endless body art, Andersen can become the last piece to the Heat's puzzle. The Thunder have Nick Collison, the Bulls have Taj Gibson and the Clippers have Jamal Crawford.
The Heat must have Chris Andersen.