Comparing Miami Heat's 2013-14 Opening Day Roster vs. Start of Last Season
While the core of the team remains the same for the most part, the Miami Heat have undergone plenty of changes at the back end of their roster since they beat the Boston Celtics, 120-107, on the opening night of the 2012 season.
Among other moves, Miami has added some pretty big-name players in Greg Oden, Michael Beasley and Chris Andersen, and it amnestied the valuable Mike Miller.
Let's further explore the difference a year has made to Miami's roster and along the way look at what to expect from the Heat's players in this oh-so-important season.
Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were the Heat's only two point guards to start out the 2012-13 season, and that won't be any different this year.
However, there was a time when it seemed like Miami's point guard core could be a bit different this year. The Heat reportedly showed interest in Sebastian Telfair, via Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld, and Mo Williams, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, this offseason. On top of Miami looking for more depth at the position, Fox Sports' Sam Amico reported it explored the trade value of Cole.
Among the two, Norris is the player to keep an eye on this year. He played the best basketball of his life toward the end of last season and is lighting it up in preseason play (60.0 3PT%).
Just like last season, the Heat will have Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, two future Hall of Famers, as their top two shooting guards.
A newcomer, though, will likely fill the No. 3 spot. While Roger Mason Jr. is still technically fighting for a roster spot, Bleacher Report's own Ethan Skolnick tweeted he's hearing the nine-year veteran has made the team.
Mason Jr. (41.2 3PT% in preseason) will be yet another bench shooter for Miami.
Terrel Harris, who is currently a free agent, began the 2012-13 season as the Heat's third shooting guard.
But back to the big-name guys: This is a huge year for Wade. He's Miami's X-factor and has a chance to prove a lot of people wrong who think he's not elite after he struggled in the 2013 postseason. As for Allen, expect him to continue to do what he does best—knock down open threes created by LeBron James.
While Michael Beasley hasn't officially made the Heat, it would be a stunner if he didn't at this point, given how he's performed this preseason (11.3 PPG on 46.7 FG%).
If he can make the team, he would replace the amnestied Miller and join returning small forwards LeBron, Shane Battier and James Jones.
Beasley is one of the more interesting storylines for the Heat this year. If Beasley is actually going to change his selfish on-the-court ways and stay out of trouble off the court, he could be a very valuable piece for Miami.
Also of intrigue at the small forward position is Jones, who will likely fill the majority of Miller's departed role after being a benchwarmer last season.
While Battier will enter this season at 35 years old, his shot doesn't appear to be on the decline, as he's knocked down an absurd 68.8 percent of his three-pointers this preseason.
And, yeah, unless voter fatigue sets in, LeBron is going to win his fifth MVP in six seasons.
There won't be any changes for Miami at power forward from last year's opener to this one, as Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis are still the only two players the Heat have at the position.
Miami's decision to amnesty Miller doesn't just help Jones see the court more often, it helps Lewis too, who was a non-rotation player for much of the 2012-13 season.
Lewis won't be able to help the Heat much in terms of rebounding and defense, but he can still shoot, so he brings value in that respect.
Something to watch for from this position is Haslem's mid-range shot. Udonis seemingly rediscovered his shooting stroke in the 2013 postseason; Miami would receive a huge boost if he can keep that up as the Heat go for a three-peat.
Miami will see its biggest turnover at the center position. While Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony are returning, out are Josh Harrellson and Dexter Pittman and in are Oden and Andersen.
And Anthony, who was Miami's No. 2 center to start last season, will be the Heat's No. 4 if Oden is healthy. Needless to say, expect to see Joel on the bench a lot this year.
Oden is the most fascinating guy here, obviously. The Heat were dominated last season by opposing big men, and Greg has the defensive prowess to prevent that from repeating itself.
There's little reason to suspect Bosh and Andersen won't perform any differently than they did last season, which is to say they'll both be huge assets for Miami, in different ways, of course.