Predicting Miami Heat's Final 15-Man Roster
The Miami Heat's roster is about set for the 2013-14 season.
Miami has 14 players under contract at the moment, which means there's room to add just one more before the season starts.
We're going to predict who that player will be, as well as project the Heat's depth chart.
Miami might not see a big change at the top of the depth, as the Heat have brought back every rotation player from the 2012-13 team, with the exception of Mike Miller.
However, the amnesty of Miller, as well as the signing of Greg Oden has affected the roles of multiple bench players on the Heat. Let's explore this further, as we take a look at what I expect to be the 2013-14 Heat's final 15-man roster.
Starter: Mario Chalmers
While Norris Cole showed great improvement at the end of the 2012-13 season and into the playoffs, the starting point guard job still belongs to Chalmers.
Chalmers is coming off his best season as a pro and is entering his prime at 27 years old.
While he still might be known for making some head-scratching decisions at times, 'Rio cut his turnovers down significantly last season. His assist-to-turnover ratio increased from 1.56 in 2011-12 to 2.29 in 2012-13.
He's also developed into a fantastic outside shooter (which is very important, considering the Heat's offensive scheme); he knocked down 40.9 percent of this three-pointers last season. On top of that, he showed more focus on defensive; the Heat allowed fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the court compared to when he was off of it.
Chalmers will be the starter, and he deserves it.
Backup: Norris Cole
At the start of the 2012-13 season, Cole looked like the same offensive liability that he was in his rookie season. He was wildly turnover-prone, not a good playmaker and couldn't shoot.
But something changed for Cole starting when the calendar turned to 2013. In only one of the final four months of the season did Cole average more than one turnover per game.
His outside shot also turned lethal starting in March. After shooting 26.4 percent from beyond the arc before the All-Star break, he converted 46.7 of his three-point attempts post All-Star break.
He carried that momentum into the postseason and was actually Miami's most efficient outside shooter (53.1 percent) during its championship run. He also only turned the ball over about one time per 20 minutes of action and flashed some playmaking ability.
This isn't to say Cole is a stud. He still has a ton of room to grow offensively. But considering the improvements he's already made since his rookie season, along with his tenacious defensive ability, he's more than a capable No. 2 point guard.
PG No. 3: Sebastian Telfair
As evidenced by their reported interest in both Telfair, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, and Mo Williams, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat have been looking to add a third point guard this summer.
Now that Williams is off the market (he signed with the Portland Trail Blazers), I expect the Heat to use their final roster spot on Telfair.
After signing Chris Andersen and Greg Oden, Miami is done with adding centers. They also decided not to invite No. 50 pick James Ennis to training camp, which could mean Miami is satisfied with its wing players. So point guard it may be.
Telfair is coming off a less-than-impressive season in which he averaged just 5.6 points and 2.6 assists per game. But there aren't many available skilled point guards right now, and Telfair is quick, has a decent shot and would be signed for the veteran's minimum.
As someone who would primarily be insurance in case Chalmers or Cole were to get injured, Telfair is a fine option.
Starter: Dwyane Wade
Wade is going to prove a lot of people wrong during the 2013-14 season.
For his standards, Wade had a horrible postseason in 2013, and the talk of his demise was/is in full force by many.
But Wade was playing hurt, really hurt. The reason for his declining performance was due to his bad knees more than the thinking: "He's 31 and isn't the same player he used to be."
We had these same conversations coming into the 2012-13 season after an injured Wade disappointed in the 2012 postseason. And what do you know? Wade came back healthy and put together another absurdly efficient season of 21.2 points (52.1 percent shooting), 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.9 steals and .8 blocks.
A healthy Wade is still one of the NBA's elite, and we'll see that once again this season.
Backup: Ray Allen
Allen had a solid first season with the Heat that was then made great by "The Shot" in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
While Allen will enter the 2013-14 season at 38 years old, expect him to still be the same, dominant three-point shooter he was last season (41.9 percent) and over his career. The reason to worry about Allen is his defense.
Allen was atrocious defensively for much of 2012-13 (he's not quick enough to stay with his man), and that's likely to be even more of an issue this season as he ages.
Still, as long as he's knocking down his open jumpers, he still is a plus for this team.
Starter: LeBron James
Shockingly, we have LeBron penciled in as a starter for the Heat.
He's only coming off one of the most impressive two-year stretches in NBA history. Two MVPs, two championships and two Finals MVPs; you can't do any better than that.
Simply put, LeBron has a complete command of basketball right now. He can beat you going left and right, from the mid-range and from outside; LeBron is about as close to unstoppable, offensively, as one can get.
And he might be the best defensive player in the league at the same time. No one else in the league can guard all five positions but James.
He's just a beast. And unless voter fatigue settles in, he'll walk away with his fifth MVP trophy next season.
Backup: Shane Battier
Battier was hugely important for Miami last year.
As the Heat went small, they relied on Battier's defensive versatility which allows him to guard power forwards successfully.
But he was more than just a defensive asset; Battier was Miami's best shot from outside. The 2012-13 Heat were loaded with shooters, but no one knocked down outside shots at a higher clip than Battier (43.0 percent).
While Battier is getting up there in age (he'll be 35 by the season opener), he's kept himself in great shape throughout his career, and I expect him to perform at a similarly high level in 2013-14.
SF No. 3: James Jones
The Heat's decision to amnesty Mike Miller has opened up a role for Jones, who had been relegated to nothing more than a benchwarmer this past season.
Jones is a one-trick pony; however, he's really good at his trick. Jones is a career 39.9 percent three-point shooter.
He's not going to drive to the hoop. He's not going to make many plays. He's going to hang out in the corner and drill open threes created for him by Miami's slashers. It's a pretty easy role, and Jones has the skill set to fill it.
Starter: Udonis Haslem
Aside from a couple of stellar shooting performances, Haslem had his fair share of struggles in the 2013 postseason. His rebounding numbers were down from the regular season, and he had trouble defensively.
We later found out why: Haslem was playing with a torn right meniscus.
Haslem's had offseason surgery, though, and will, in all likelihood, be good to go for the season opener. And if he is, expect him to be in the starting lineup.
He started 59 games last year, and since it's not broken, there's no need to fix it.
A healthy Haslem is still one of the Heat's top rebounders and a tough defender. If he can replicate those two 8-of-9-from-the-field games he had in the postseason a couple of times, all the better.
Backup: Rashard Lewis
Lewis isn't going to see very many minutes here (he was a non-rotation player for much of last season), but he is technically the Heat's backup power forward.
Lewis could end up the recipient of some of the minutes left behind by Miller, though.
At this point, Lewis is nothing but a shooter (he shot 38.9 percent from the field last season). He rebounds horribly for his size (6'10") and is a defensive liability.
While he was once a very good player, those weaknesses have and will continue to hold him back from having a sizable role on this team.
PF No. 3: Jarvis Varnado
While Varnado has a contract with the Heat, it's not guaranteed, which means neither is he guaranteed a roster spot.
If Miami does decide to sign a free agent who's not a point guard, it's likely going to be someone (say, Lamar Odom) who would bump Varnado off this depth chart.
However, I'm expecting Varnado to be on the Heat when the season starts.
While he could have rebounded the ball better in summer league, he did a nice job blocking shots and showed off a solid mid-range jumper. He's also young and a big body whom Miami might want to keep for developmental purposes.
Starter: Chris Bosh
Not since his rookie year had Chris Bosh put up worse numbers than the 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game that he averaged last season.
However, Bosh did what he was supposed to do in the Heat's offensive system (spread the floor), which is a reason the Heat are going to continue playing small ball this year.
Bosh's mid-range game was as potent as ever before; he shot 53.0 percent from 16-23 feet away from the basket, according to Hoopdata. The threat of that shot draws opposing big men away from the paint, which opens up driving lanes for other Heat players.
Expect Bosh to continue hitting that shot and, at the same time, unfairly receive little credit for the Heat's successes.
Backup: Chris Andersen
Miami made what was a no-brainer decision by re-signing "Birdman" for the veteran's minimum.
He was the Heat's top rebounder and shot-blocker in the postseason and further showed off his ability to finish at the rim by shooting north of 80 percent from the field.
On top of those skills, he plays with a great energy that made him both a fan and locker-room favorite.
He is 35 years old, but considering how he performed the last time we saw him, Andersen has given us no reason to believe the wheels are going to fall off this year.
C No. 3: Greg Oden
When Oden, whom the Heat signed this summer for the veteran's minimum, is ready for action, he should be Miami's second center off the bench. Exactly when that will be, we don't know.
Oden hasn't played in an NBA game since December 2009, but he was pretty darn effective then. In the 21 games he appeared in during the 2009-10 season, Oden's per 36-minute averages were 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.
If Oden can produce near that level, he would obviously be a huge asset to Miami. Now, there's obviously a ton of questions mark in regards to him actually being able to do that.
But the Heat are going to play this as carefully as possible and make sure Oden is 100 percent before he steps out on the court. Considering that strategy and his talent, there's no denying that this signing could end up becoming a huge steal.
C No. 4: Joel Anthony
Year after year, Anthony gets pushed further down the depth chart. It was only two years ago that he was Miami's starting center. Last year, he was a non-rotation player who would sneak in a couple of minutes per game. This year, he's likely to be used even more sparingly (when Oden is healthy).
Anthony is a great defensive center, but his offensive ineptitude is a huge problem. Part of the reason Andersen became so adored by Heat fans last season has to be because he could finish at the rim, and Miami fans were used to seeing Anthony be unable to.
The Heat are all about spacing the floor, and Anthony simply can't help them there.
Expect to see plenty of DNP-CD (did not play—coach's decision) for Anthony this year.