Early Predictions for Miami Heat's Starting 5 Next Season
And Miami, though on the older side of the fence, will enter the 2013-14 season as the clear-cut favorite to win the title, even with minimal adjustments to the roster.
James has expressed how comfortable he is with his current options in Miami, and the window for this Heat team as assembled is by no means closed.
In other words, it'd be shocking if some completely new or random element were added to Miami's starting five.
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers
After Miami exercised its team option on Mario Chalmers, it was clear that he would retain the starting point guard job for at least one more year.
The former Kansas Jayhawk has matured significantly over the past five years in Miami, and there’s no reason to turn over the keys to the point guard slot to anyone else as long as he’s on the roster.
Some may feel ready to name Norris Cole the new starter down in South Beach, but the truth is, he still has a decent amount of maturing to do on the court before he's ready for such a burden. Cole will undoubtedly reach that point one day soon, but that point will likely not come not next season.
Chalmers understands the system, is a great team defender and most importantly, he’s well aware of what it takes to win at the highest level.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade
This will come as a shock to absolutely no one, but Dwyane Wade will start at shooting guard for Miami this fall.
Wade may be on the decline of his career, but the 2006 NBA Finals MVP isn’t anywhere close to coming off the bench for the Heat.
Or any team.
After all, before his knee injury in the first round of the playoffs, Wade was showing flashes of his old self last year. Through 69 regular season games, Wade averaged 21.2 points on 52 percent shooting, along with five rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
His 52 percent from the floor was a career high.
In short, last year’s body of work was one of Wade’s best yet.
Forward: Shane Battier
This forward slot will likely be in flux for Miami all year, as Erik Spoelstra will adjust his lineup accordingly based on matchups, slumps and other factors.
However, expect Shane Battier to again get the nod to open up the season in Miami’s starting lineup. Aside from his agonizing shooting slump throughout much of the postseason, Battier did come up huge for the Heat in Game 7 of the Finals.
Battier also shot a career high from three last year, hitting 43 percent of his attempts from downtown.
Forward: LeBron James
In a way, it almost seems silly to make a prediction of LeBron James in Miami’s starting lineup next year. It's too obvious.
He’s the best player in the world.
James is as sure as it gets.
The only point worth noting here would be the fact that James will certainly play more than forward next year, as the Heat will likely continue to execute their unique brand of “position-less basketball."
It’s already difficult to place “small” and “power” in front of Miami’s forward slots as it is.
James will play all five positions next season and again show us all why he’s not only the best, but also the most complete basketball player on the planet.
Center: Chris Bosh
Unless Chris Bosh happens to be traded for some reason, he will open up the season as Miami’s starting center.
Bosh has always been the focal point for criticism throughout Miami’s “Big 3” era, but in reality, his play has been as essential as anyone else’s in terms of the Heat’s success. Without Bosh, Miami's small ball formula is broken.
Though many in South Florida would prefer to see Bosh in the post more, his ability to stretch the floor with his jumper is key.
And to Bosh's defense, a majority of his time with the Heat has been spent outside of his comfort zone on the offensive side of the ball. He undoubtedly made the biggest sacrifice as far as his game goes when he, James and Wade decided to team up in 2010.
Last season, Bosh shot a career-high 54 percent from the floor while averaging 16.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game for Miami.