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Miami Heat: Top 10 Heat Players of All Time

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 19, 2013

Miami Heat: Top 10 Heat Players of All Time

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    Every season, there seems to be a plethora of debates surrounding the top 10 players in the league. While names like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are assured, there is much discussion when it comes to rounding out the rest of the list.

    The same can be said for similar rankings when doing so in a team concept. Organizations like the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics make such rankings almost impossible. However, the Miami Heat's short history allows an easier settlement.

    Let's take a look at the top 10 Heat players in the organization's 25-year history. 

Honorable Mention: Steve Smith

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    One of the Heat's first decent players, Steve Smith was taken fifth overall in the 1991 draft by Miami. His combination of scoring and distributing made Smith a household name.

    The combo guard was traded two games into his fourth season in South Beach, and he flourished with the Atlanta Hawks.

    During his three-year career with Miami, Smith averaged 15.1 points and 5.1 assists per game. He had a career-high 5.6 assists in just his second year, and is sixth all-time in terms of assists per game. 

Honorable Mention: Keith Askins

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    Newer fans might know him as the Heat's assistant coach with the blue shades, but Keith Askins was the epitome of hard work. He was primarily a defensive specialist and was versatile due to his 6'7" frame.

    Askins averaged just 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds for his career with the Heat, yet he is fourth all-time in games played. He's also ninth in both three-point field goals made and attempted; however, he does not appear in any other leading category.

    Askins' defense and effort were staples of his play, much like current Heat center Joel Anthony, and thus the Heat rewarded him with a nine-year career in Miami.

    He never played for any other team in the NBA, and while his contributions weren't always noticeable, Askins is a well-known figure in the Miami community. 

Honorable Mention: Jamal Mashburn

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    While many will call Jamal Mashburn's label as an honorable mention questionable, it is his rightful place in terms of raw contribution to the Heat.

    Coming as a steal in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, Mashburn become a dynamic part of the Heat's strong core in the late 90's. With Mashburn alongside Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, Miami's renowned rivalry with New York was born.

    Mashburn averaged 15.2 points over his four-year Heat career; however, he only participated in a total of 177 games over that span. He had constant trouble with injuries and was never able to be a consistent presence on the court.

    Much like Askins, Mashburn will always be remembered for his presence as one of the Heat's original Big Three. Yet as aforementioned, he could not play consistently enough to merit further consideration. 

10. Eddie Jones

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    Better known for his days with the Los Angeles Lakers, Eddie Jones arrived in Miami and remained a scoring threat. 

    After a successful run with L.A. that involved two All-Star appearances (one as part of the Lakers' renowned four-player selection to the West), he was sent to Charlotte for one season.

    Jones became the central player in the trade that sent Jamal Mashburn to the Hornets, and he became a great Heat player over six seasons.

    He is sixth all-time in points scored in a Miami uniform, as well as second in both three-pointers made and attempted.

    Jones averaged 18.7 points through his career with the Heat and was an integral part of Miami's run to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2004-05 season.

    Jones was dealt to Memphis in the offseason, as Miami nabbed James Posey and Jason Williams, later securing its first championship the very next year.

    Jones returned to the Heat for a brief 35 games in 2006-07, as he filled in for the injured Dwyane Wade

9. Grant Long

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    One of the Heat's first draft picks, Grant Long came to Miami from the second round. He exceeded expectations, averaging 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds through a little over six seasons in South Beach.

    A 6'9" forward, Long is remembered for his rebounding and for his tenacity on the defensive end. His career average on the boards doesn't tell the whole story, however, as Long snatched 2.4 offensive rebounds per game with the Heat.

    Long played an average of 31.4 minutes per game in his Miami career, which points to his efficiency crashing the glass.

    With a similar mold to that of current Miami forward Udonis Haslem, Long was an undersized big man who remained solid defensively and in the paint.

8. Shaquille O'Neal

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    You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't recognize Shaquille O'Neal. He's one of the legendary big men in the history of the game, securing four titles over a 20-year career, the last coming with Miami.

    He and Dwyane Wade combined as a powerful one-two punch and were dominant, despite O'Neal's short tenure with the team. He averaged 18.6 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Heat in 30.4 minutes, which indicates The Diesel's Hall of Fame-worthy play. 

    Shaq showed signs of age as his Heat career came to a close, before he was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Shawn Marion.

    While much of the credit surrounding Miami's first title belongs to Wade, O'Neal remained a major piece. His 13.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the Finals in 2005-06 don't indicate this, nor does his 29.2 percent free-throw shooting in the series, but his presence surely gave Wade room to operate.

    O'Neal currently ranks fifth in blocks and ninth in total rebounds for the Heat, in addition to first in field-goal percentage and third in points per game.

7. Rony Seikaly

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    Rony Seikaly was the Heat's first building block in becoming a franchise. He was their first draft pick when they joined the league, and he did not disappoint after being selected ninth in 1988.

    He went on to play six of his 12 seasons in the NBA with the Heat, averaging a double-double in five of them.

    Seikaly's 15.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in a Miami uniform solidify his place as one of its top centers. 

    Seikaly's efforts have him placed fourth in points scored, third in total rebounds and third in blocked shots. He has also played the eighth-most games for the Heat and remains one of the most iconic and effective players in their history.

6. Glen Rice

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    Glen Rice had an extremely productive NBA career, and his numbers during his time with Heat reflect this.

    With Miami coming into the league as an expansion team in 1988, Rice was taken fourth overall in the 1989 draft and immediately established himself as a scoring threat.

    The 6'8" forward averaged 19.2 points per game with the Heat, scoring 22.3 per game in 79 games in just his third season in the league.

    This accolade denoted Rice as the first Miami player to average more than 20 points in a season, as he led the team to its first playoff berth.

    The Heat never went any further with Rice as their leader before he was sent to the Hornets in exchange for Alonzo Mourning. 

    Nonetheless, Rice ranks fifth in games played with Miami. He's also second in field goals made and attempted, third in three-point field goals made and attempted, seventh in rebounding, ninth in assists and third in points. 

5. Udonis Haslem

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    The Miami Heat have always embraced hustle, defense and effort as staples of the organization; blend all three together to create a player, and you end up with Udonis Haslem.

    Add his undersized 6'8" frame to boot, and the Heat forward deserves even more praise for his play.

    Haslem, born and raised in Miami, was undrafted out of the University of Florida. He played a year in France before signing with the Heat in 2003 and has since been a fan favorite.

    He's played his entire 10-year career with Miami, with averages of 9.1 points and 7.8 rebounds. Whether as a reserve or the starting forward/center, Haslem has been the epitome of what the Heat stand for.

    UD is the franchise's leading rebounder, as he passed Alonzo Mourning on November 21, 2012. He's also second in games and minutes played and is seventh in points scored.

    Depending on how many championships the Heat end up with, Haslem may very well end up higher on this list. He's been a solid contributor for Miami's two successful trips to the Finals; thus, his place is well-deserved as one of the Heat's all-time greats.

4. Tim Hardaway

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    The Heat had the chance to draft Tim Hardaway, back in 1989, yet instead opted for the aforementioned scorer, Glen Rice. Miami was lucky enough to still see Hardaway in a Heat jersey, and he became of the franchise's best.

    Arriving in South Beach in the middle of the 1995-96 season, the 6'0" guard had an instantaneous positive impact.

    His 17.0 points and 7.9 assists per game in a Heat uniform merit labeling him as Miami's greatest point guard, in addition to placing him among the Heat's career leaders.

    Hardaway is the top three-point shooter in the team's history, as he is first in both threes made and attempted. He is 10th in games played and fifth in points and trails just Dwyane Wade in assists.

    He is renowned for his crafty ball-handling skills, in addition to his pairing with Alonzo Mourning, as they formed the first potent one-two punch the team had seen.

    Mourning, Mashburn and Hardaway formed a stellar group that led the Heat to many postseasons; however, Hardaway was often sidelined with various injuries.

    Hardaway was a two-time All-Star for the Heat and had his best year, garnering MVP consideration, in just his second season with Miami, averaging 20.3 points and 8.6 assists as the Heat topped the Eastern Conference.

3. LeBron James

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    LeBron James will finish his career as one of the NBA's greatest players. He may very well do so with the Heat; however, he has some serious competition before that is even considered.

    James is making historic strides in a Miami uniform, as he's set the record for most consecutive 30-point games.

    James recently became the only player in NBA history to score 30 or more in six straight games while shooting better than 60 percent from the floor.

    LeBron is also the primary reason for the Heat's second championship, and while this is a serious accolade, he has a ways to go before he moves further up this list.

    He is already Miami's ninth-leading scorer, in addition to being fourth in assists. James hasn't even cracked the Heat's top 10 in terms of games played, yet he has his name scattered through their history books. 

    He currently owns the highest points-per-game average for the organization at 27.0, in addition to a stellar 7.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists. 

    Securing a second MVP in a Heat uniform would be beneficial for James' case in supplanting the next Heat great; however. he would have a tough time convincing Miami fans.

2. Alonzo Mourning

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    Alonzo Mourning is far and away the greatest big man to ever don the white, red and gold. Whether it's been on the court or off it, he's been the embodiment of what the Heat organization represents. Hustle, defense, effort, energy and sacrifice are all synonymous with Mourning's name.

    The defensive center played 11 seasons with the Heat after arriving in a trade with Charlotte. Sending away Glen Rice was tough for Miami, but the pros outweighed the cons.

    With Mourning in the middle, Miami went on its most successful run of seasons since the forming of the franchise. He averaged 17.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in the Heat's famed run with the Knicks en route to the team's first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they later lost to the eventual champion Chicago Bulls.

    Mourning was forced to retire briefly due to a kidney ailment, but he made a semi-successful comeback to Miami. Despite a lesser role, the 6'10" center played an integral role in the Heat's first championship.

    In the clinching Game 6 victory, in a confined 14 minutes of action, Mourning scored eight points, snatched six boards and blocked an incredible five shots. His defense down the stretch kept the Heat alive, and he is remembered for his sprinting onto the court as the buzzer sounded. The enormous grin as he embraced his teammates was indicative of the payoff of his life's work, through the good and the bad.

    Mourning is third in games played and second in points and rebounds. His first place in shots blocked is hardly a surprise; however, his lead over Dwyane Wade is so substantial, it's doubtful anyone will ever replace him. Mourning is ahead of the Heat's all-time leading scorer by a little under 1000 swats. 

    As a member of the Heat, Mourning became one of the few NBA players to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards. He represented Miami multiple times as an All-Star and was an All-NBA First Team selection in 1999.

1. Dwyane Wade

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    If you didn't anticipate Dwyane Wade at the end of this list, suffice it to say you don't know the Heat very well.

    Wade will end his career as a top-tier shooting guard, trailing just Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. His placement on the Heat's rankings, however, is unquestionable.

    Arriving in South Beach by means of the 2003 draft, Wade instantly confirmed himself as the future leader of the franchise.

    Whether you point to his stellar play in the regular season, or more notably in the postseason against the Charlotte Hornets, it was from early on that Wade looked to be a superstar.

    After the acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal, Wade led the Heat on their most successful run. With another All-Star by his side, the 6'4" guard put on a performance for the ages in Miami's 2005-06 postseason. He scored the 11th-most points in a single playoffs, going to work against powerhouse teams like Chicago, New Jersey and Detroit.

    In the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, Wade had the third-highest points-per-game average in the history of the series. His 34.7 points on 46.8 percent shooting was too much for the Mavs to handle, despite many questioning the 16.2 free throws attempted per game through the six-game series.

    Wade was also a huge factor in last season's playoff run, as he and Udonis Haslem are the sole Heat players with two championship rings. 

    From a career perspective, Wade leads the team in just about every category. Whether it's games played, free throws or field goals, the shooting guard is there.

    Specifically, he is fifth in rebounding and first in points, assists and steals. He leads second-place Alonzo Mourning in scoring by a little under 6,500 points and will increase his lead before he retires.

    Depending on LeBron James' decisions down the stretch, Wade's statistical accolades may slip here and there.

    Nonetheless, his nine All-Star game appearances—including being named All-Star MVP in 2010—and seven total All-NBA selections solidify Wade's place as the Heat's greatest player of all time.

    As previously noted, James may lead Wade in scoring, but Wade's seat on the Heat throne will never be supplanted; not even by the King.

Fin

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    Without further ado, the list of the Heat's greatest comes to a close. If you have any disagreements or points of interest you wish to add, feel free to comment below.

    All information sourced from espn.com/nba/statistics and basketball-reference.com.

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