The Miami Heat will begin training camp in just two weeks. And although Miami is coming off a second straight championship and a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, it still has some mysteries heading into training camp.
The Heat’s two biggest question marks are actually the two players many Miami fans thought would lead the team back to prominence just five years ago: Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley.
A three-time NBA champion, Wade opted to undergo OssaTron shock treatment on both knees over the summer instead of having surgery. He underwent his first workout in mid-August, well before the Oct. 1 start of training camp. But it’s not just significant that Wade worked out last month; it also matters whom he worked out with.
Wade reached out to noted trainer Tim Grover, who helped the 2006 NBA Finals MVP reach his peak before the 2008 Beijing Olympics and subsequent NBA season, when Wade won the scoring title. Grover said his goal is to make players “better than ever,” and Pat Riley said that the former Marquette standout will “reinvent himself, and everyone is going to say, ‘Wow.’”
Can Grover help Wade become better than ever? Will people say “wow” when they see Wade play this season?
First of all, it’s worth pointing out that although Wade generally didn’t play well in the 2013 postseason, he had a very good regular season. He had a true shooting percentage of 57 percent, appeared in 69 games and registered a PER of 24, a very solid rating. He also cut down on his usage rate, working more in tandem with LeBron James. For example, he shot 70 percent from the field on cuts to the basket, according to Synergy Sports.
When healthy, Wade is still a great player to have as a second banana. And considering how well Grover has trained Wade in the past, the 6'4" guard should show that he can still serve an integral role on a championship team. The Heat will monitor Wade’s minutes in the hopes of minimizing the chances of a playoff injury, as has happened the last two years.
Another mystery for the Heat, albeit much less important to the team’s championship chances, will be how Michael Beasley plays in training camp. Miami signed him to a non-guaranteed contract, so the once-promising draft pick will have to prove he deserves a spot on the final roster.
Beasley can’t act as the ball-dominating scorer he was in Kansas State to keep this NBA job, which may be his last chance. Like Wade, he’ll have to reinvent himself as a complementary player. He’ll have to develop a reliable three-point shot, become a strong rebounder and adapt to the Heat’s aggressive defensive style.
In an ideal world, the Heat will use this season to tailor Beasley to become the fourth option for the 2014-15 season (after Ray Allen and Shane Battier have retired). Of course, Miami has to convince LeBron James to re-sign in this world as well. But this low-risk signing could have the potential to reap big benefits for the Heat.
The performances of the Heat’s top two scorers in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons could go a long way in determining the team’s success this year and beyond.