Miami Heat Players Making the Strongest Case for More Minutes

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2013

Miami Heat Players Making the Strongest Case for More Minutes

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    Perhaps more so than they are for any other team in the NBA, minutes are hard to come by on the Miami Heat.

    This team is loaded with top talent and is scary deep; it's the deepest Heat team ever. This is a team that ranks first in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating yet has only two players (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) playing over 30 minutes per night.

    Miami has five rotation players who shoot north of 50 percent from the field, as well as five rotation players who shoot better than 40 percent from outside. Incredible: the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history, Ray Allen, is having a fine year (39.3 3P%) and is the sixth-most efficient outside shooter on the Heat!

    Needless to say, while Heat players throughout the Big Three era have known what they were signing up for (sacrificing personal accolades for team success), there are undoubtedly multiple players on this team playing fewer minutes than their performance this year suggests they should.

     

Michael Beasley

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    Michael Beasley has been outstanding this year—remarkably so—considering how dreadful he looked the past few seasons.

    He's been a scoring force; looking like the guy Miami thought they were drafting No. 2 overall back in 2008. Beasley's averaging 22.6 points on 54.4 percent shooting from the floor and 42.9 percent shooting from three-point land per 36 minutes. 

    He is meshing fantastically with the Heat's system. Beasley's letting the game come to him, taking advantage of the offense's ability to find great shots, rather than just jacking up inefficient shots, which he has been known to do. Yet he is still scoring more points per minute than everyone on Miami not named LeBron James.

    But he hasn't just been scoring.

    Beasley is working his tail off on the defensive end. We expected his defensive ability to stand in the way of him getting playing time this year, but his play on that end is helping him stay on the court. 

    On top of that, he's rebounded the ball better than ever before. His rate of 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes ranks second on the team behind only Chris Andersen. 

    Beasley averages 16.1 minutes per game, but he's making a fantastic case for 20-plus minutes a night.

Mario Chalmers

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    Like Beasley, Mario Chalmers is playing the best basketball of his life. 

    He's averaging 9.3 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the floor and 41.8 percent shooting on three-pointers, along with 2.7 rebounds, five assists and 1.8 steals in the 27.7 minutes he plays per night. He's on pace for a per-36 minutes career best in points, three-point shooting, rebounds, assists and steals. 

    It's clear that Chalmers has accepted his role on this team and he's flourishing. 'Rio is doing a great job of distributing the ball to his superstar teammates and staying ready from beyond the arc. 

    Chalmers likely isn't going to get any more minutes as a result of his improved play, though. There's simply too much competition for minutes at point guard.

Norris Cole

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    Chalmers isn't the only Heat point guard stepping up his play. 'Rio's backup, Norris Cole, is taking a massive step forward in his third year in the league.

    At the beginning of his career, Cole was a great on-ball defender but inept offensively. He's still just as tenacious on the defensive end, but now he has a valuable offensive game to compliment it.

    Cole no longer looks like a chicken with his head cut off when driving to the rack. He's more controlled yet still lightening quick, and is doing a fine job of either finishing at the rim or making the smart pass. He's currently averaging career bests (per 36 minutes) of 4.9 assists and 2.0 turnovers. 

    Cole's also proved that him being the Heat's most efficient three-point shooter during the 2013 postseason was no fluke. Norris is shooting 45.5 percent from downtown after shooting 35.7 percent last season.

    Just like Cole is standing in Chalmers' way for more minutes, Chalmers is standing in Cole's way. They're both playing too well for Spo to give one that much more playing time over the other—a good problem for him to have undoubtedly. 

Chris Andersen

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    Chris "Birdman" Andersen only plays 17.1 minutes per game, but he has tremendous value to the Heat.

    He's Miami's best rebounder (averages nine per 36 minutes). That ability on the glass is even more important considering the Heat severely lack other rebounders. The team averages 35.8 rebounds per game, which ranks last in the league. 

    Birdman is a huge asset on the offensive glass (2.8 per 36 minutes) and he's a more-than-capable finisher at the rim. He's shooting 63.5 percent from the field, which is tops on Miami. 

    Not surprisingly, given how physical and energetic of a player he is, Andersen is also Miami's best shot-blocker (2.4 per 36 minutes).

    Still, as strong as a case for more playing time as Andersen has made, with a star like Chris Bosh ahead of him on the depth chart, it's also going to be difficult for Birdman to play more.  

James Jones

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    James Jones has only made four appearances this season, but he's given the Heat everything they could have asked for in such limited time. 

    He's scored 27 points in just 41 minutes. His best performance came on Nov. 20 against the Orlando Magic when he poured in 17 points with five three-pointers in 20 minutes of action.

    Jones is strictly a shooter, but he's an excellent one. He's knocked down 40.1 percent of his three-pointers in his career and is six of eight from outside to start this year.

    Still, excluding garbage time, Jones is only going to see playing time in games Dwyane Wade sits out. The Heat have an embarrassment of riches, as there are multiple guys on the team that can shoot from three and contribute in other areas.

    However, Jones' play this year has reaffirmed that he would see a lot more action if he weren't on such a stacked team.