The Biggest Early-Season Storylines for the Miami Heat

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The Biggest Early-Season Storylines for the Miami Heat
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Things are never boring with the Miami Heat.

While the regular season might not be as exciting as it was before the Heat rattled off back-to-back championships, there have still been plenty of interesting developments surrounding this team.

The most notable storylines: LeBron James is somehow better than he was last year, Michael Beasley is somehow a real asset, and, of course, all eyes are on Dwyane Wade's knees.

Let's take an in-depth look at each of these narratives!

 

LeBron James' Efficiency

LeBron has been an efficiency machine for years now. He's led the NBA in PER in each of the past six seasons and has shot over 50 percent from the field every season in a Heat uniform.

But James has taken his efficiency to the next level this season.

Through 12 games, LeBron is averaging 25.6 points per game on 60.1 percent shooting overall and 48.4 percent shooting from three-point land. Given how great he's been in the past, the idea of LeBron still improving seems impossible, but here we are.

In back-to-back games against the Dallas Mavericks and Charlotte Bobcats in the middle of November, LeBron scored a combined 69 points on 27-of-36 shooting. 

James is nearing the point where it's not hyperbolic to say he's impossible to stop. There's no way this guy's not winning another MVP award unless voter fatigue sets in.

 

The Success of the Michael Beasley Experiment

LeBron isn't the only Heat player who's been absurdly efficient. Michael Beasley has been fantastic this season to a degree that's downright startling, given his past play.

In the seven games he's appeared in (15.6 minutes per game), Beasley is averaging 10.9 points on 56.1 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from outside. Only Chris Andersen (who's a center and takes 3.5 shots per game), Chris Bosh and LeBron have better shooting percentages on the Heat than Beasley, and only James averages more points per minute than the No. 2 pick from the 2008 draft. 

He's not doing much in the rebounding or assists categories, but he has committed on the defensive end, something that was unexpected heading into the season.

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images
Beasley is fitting in with the Heat's stars.

On top of all that, he's fitting in with the team.

A big reason why I was initially not in favor of signing Beasley from Miami's perspective was that he doesn't exactly have a reputation as a great "locker room guy." But the Heat's biggest stars have made it clear that they like having Beasley around and believe he can help the team.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

 "That's Michael Beasley," Wade said. "He's a scorer. He's a guy who finds a way to get to the basket, get buckets. He's great for this team."

(...)

"I just want him to be great," James said. "He has the potential; he has the talent. I just want to give him all the knowledge that I've got, help him out. And he can help us, for sure."

It's been quite a start for Beasley, who just a few months ago was arrested for marijuana possession and released by an awful Phoenix Suns team.

 

Dwyane Wade's Health

More important for a three-peat than locking down a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference is Dwyane Wade being healthy when Miami enters the playoffs.

Wade's knees betrayed him and significantly hindered his ability in each of the last two postseasons.  

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Wade's knees were a huge issue in the 2013 playoffs.

He needed offseason shock treatment on both of his knees this past offseason, which he's still recovering from. And that's why the Heat have been extremely careful with Wade to start the season. 

Wade has sat out three of Miami's first 12 games. The Heat want to make sure to keep him and his knees as fresh as possible. 

After Miami sat Wade for Wednesday night's game against the Orlando Magic, coach Erik Spoelstra said Dwyane is ahead of schedule in his recovery, among other things (via Winderman).

It's every day, day by day. And the plan is for him to get stronger, feel healthier, move better as the season goes on. He's had a terrific start from training camp, all the way up until now. He's ahead of schedule from where we anticipated probably in July after the OssaTron therapy.

But we know with these procedures, it takes time, and we'll be patient with it. But we'll monitor it and have constant communication every single day.

It sounds like holding out Wade in games here and there is going to be a season-long thing, and it's the right move.

If they don't get the top seed, the Heat can win important playoff games on the road. But with an improved top of the Eastern Conference, Miami might not be able to make its fourth straight trip to the finals if Wade replicates his 2013 postseason performance.

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