Of all the teams in the NBA, the Heat may very well have the group that sacrifices the most. While the Big Three all took substantially less salary to join forces, the other players around them do so as well. Mike Miller and Shane Battier took less, as did Udonis Haslem.
However, Haslem has been the heart and soul of this Miami team for the majority of his career. His hustle, rebounding and energy make him a fan favorite. Yet he has not looked like himself this season. Haslem was never overly athletic, but he has looked a step slow thus far. His rebounding is still effective, at 5.5 per game in 19.4 minutes, which contrasts against everything Haslem excelled doing.
This season he is shooting a respectable 48.9 percent from the field. Haslem's muscle and big body inside makes it easier to score near the rim. Nevertheless, he used to have a dead-eye mid-range jump shot, which seems to have all but disappeared.
On spot-up jumpers this season, Haslem is nailing just 29.5 percent. From mid-range this accuracy rises slightly to 31 percent, which is still abysmal by his standards. Haslem shot 39 percent from this distance last year and 49 percent in the 2010-11 season.
It's hardly the fact he isn't receiving enough open attempts, with his overall shot distribution from mid-range coming in at 42.3 percent, with the remaining 57.7 percent coming inside the paint. Opposing defenses will still close out on the 6'8" forward, yet Miami fans are accustomed to a miss.
Nonetheless, Haslem has remained effective for the Heat. Through January he pulled down 6.8 rebounds in an extended 20.5 minute per game average, as he started the majority of their games. His offense is not relied upon by Miami, as their plethora of All-Stars and shooters keeps that under control. However, if Haslem can improve his shooting he'd become even more invaluable to the team.
There's no doubt the 10-year veteran will retire with the Miami Heat. Any whisper of a trade would send the state into an uproar. It's quite possible Haslem could shoot below 10 percent, and the organisation would remain committed to him. However, that should not take away from the fact that Haslem needs to regain his shooting touch and return as the mid-range threat he once was.
All statistics sourced from Synergy Sports and nba.com/stats .
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