Regardless of the fact that the Miami Heat are back-to-back champions, they entered training camp with questions just like the other 29 teams in the NBA. Of course, they may not have had as many as most other ballclubs, but they had concerns nonetheless.
Now that the preseason is over, we can take stock of the Heat and ask ourselves, have they answered all of the questions they needed to resolve? Is there anything left for them to figure out?
Well, no team can solve every single one of its problems during training camp, so clearly, there remain some burning questions for Erik Spoelstra's squad. The good news is that all of those worries pertain to title aspirations and not rebuilding like many other franchises, so at the very least, Miami has that going for it.
Still, for the Heat, it's championship or bust. If they are not able to find a remedy to these questions, they may find themselves enduring a long summer in 2014.
The Heat ranked last in rebounding last season, and they didn't really make any big-time moves to improve in that area over the summer. Sure, they signed Greg Oden, but is he going to remain healthy enough to make a difference on the boards?
Over the last two years, Miami has been able to get away with being horrific on the glass, but how much longer will that good fortune last?
Its top competition in the Eastern Conference consists of big teams, and those big teams have gotten even bigger.
The Indiana Pacers added Luis Scola to a frontcourt rotation that already included Roy Hibbert, David West and Ian Mahinmi. The Brooklyn Nets acquired Kevin Garnett to play with Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche and rebounder extraordinaire Reggie Evans. The Chicago Bulls may not have beefed up their front line over the summer, but they are still home to the likes of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson.
Will Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen and a balky Oden be enough to counter that?
It nearly cost the Heat last year against the Pacers, and this time around, they might not be so lucky.
That remark seemed somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but given the fact that Wade has dealt with knee problems the past couple of seasons, you have to think that there was some truth to it.
Obviously, developing a perimeter game would go a long way to preserving Wade's body.
Contrary to what his comments suggested, Wade didn't attempt a single triple during the preseason. For a player of Wade's caliber, exhibition games are the perfect time to practice new things, so you would think that if Wade really wanted to add that wrinkle to his arsenal, he would have tried honing it throughout training camp.
Wade does not have to hit three-pointers to be effective, but spending a bit more time taking jumpers and less time crashing into the lane would allow Wade to save some energy and health for the playoffs.
One of the biggest obstacles in the way of a potential Heat three-peat is Wade's knees, and it doesn't appear that No. 3 has taken any measures to diminish that problem.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Michael Beasley made the Heat roster. That never really seemed debatable.
The question is, will Beasley actually see the floor and produce this season?
In five exhibition contests, Beasley averaged 9.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.6 minutes a game. Solid numbers, right? Sure, until you see that he shot only 42.2 percent from the floor and 57.1 percent from the free-throw line, not to mention the fact that he may or may not have done some damage to his head.
There is no denying Beasley's talent. He was a dominant force at Kansas State and has demonstrated the ability to be a good scorer at the professional level.
However, will he be able to integrate himself into a winning environment? Will he be able to become more efficient? Will he cease posting negative win share numbers?
Beasley is fortunate enough to be surrounded by veterans who know what it takes to win, so maybe that will help the 24-year-old. You just have to wonder if the kid is beyond help at this point of his career.
While Mike Miller wasn't exactly an integral piece of the Heat during the regular season in his tenure with the ballclub, there is no denying how important he was during the playoffs.
Now he is gone, and Miami is entering the 2013-14 season with a rather questionable bench.
Ray Allen was obviously huge last June, but at 38 years old and with troublesome ankles, how much longer will he be able to play significant minutes? Shane Battier was nonexistent during the 2013 playoffs outside of his three-point outburst in Game 7 of the finals. Norris Cole is maddeningly inconsistent.
Miami does have Andersen, but he is more of an energy guy than anything else, and you know you can't rely on Oden to stay healthy.
That's what makes Beasley so important. If he can give the Heat something off the pine, it would be critical. However, the fact that Miami may end up relying on Beasley to be the main guy off the bench is a bit worrisome.
Of course, if Allen and Battier don't decline further, then this is essentially a moot point. But with 73 years of age between the two, there is a relatively strong possibility that they do.
The past two seasons, the Heat have been good enough that they did not have to make any drastic midseason moves to improve their title chances.
Sure, they picked up Birdman last year, and he certainly helped quite a bit, but it's hard to classify that as a "big" move.
In 2013-14, the Eastern Conference will be better. The Nets are coming, the Pacers have another year of experience under their belts, Derrick Rose is back for the Bulls, and whether you want to admit it or not, the New York Knicks are no pushovers.
That could mean that Miami may find itself needing to make a trade to put it over the top around the deadline.
But, do the Heat possess the means to pull such a deal off?
Miami doesn't really have any tradeable assets, unless, of course, you count Bosh, whose name has been thrown out there as recently as the 2013 finals (per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe). Still, the legitimacy of any of those Bosh rumors is up for debate.
Can the Heat depend on the waiver wire again? Will it be enough this time if they find themselves in need of another body?
Pat Riley has been known to work some magic in the past (hello, 2010 offseason), so it should be interesting to see what he can do with the resources at his disposal.