First Quarter Report Card Grades for Each Member of Miami Heat

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2013

First Quarter Report Card Grades for Each Member of Miami Heat

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    Through 22 games, the back-to-back defending champion Miami Heat are playing some great basketball. They're 16-6 and the owners of the third-most efficient offense and the sixth-most efficient defense.

    We're going to take a look into how they reached this point through the first quarter of the season by giving out grades to each member of the team; who's helping them win and who's not.

    Here's a hint before we get started: LeBron James is most certainly helping them win. 

     

    All stats are from Basketball-Reference unless stated otherwise.

Non-Rotation Players

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    Udonis Haslem

    It's hard to envision the first quarter of the 2013-14 season going worse for Haslem than it has. He's played by far the worst basketball of his career, which has led to his change in role from key rotation player to benchwarmer.

    In the 12 appearances he's made, Haslem isn't taking or making his once stellar mid-range jumper (he's 3-of-12 outside of nine feet away from the basket, according to NBA.com), he's looked slow on the defensive end and went from being the Heat's best rebounder (10.3 rebounds per 36 minutes in 2012-13) to an average rebounder (six per 36 minutes this season).

    Haslem badly needs to crash the boards in the few minutes he gets here and there for him to have a shot at becoming relevant again on this team.

    Grade: D

     

    Roger Mason Jr.

    Mason Jr. has seen the court a bit lately with Dwyane Wade needing a couple games off due to his knees, and the nine-year veteran has filled in decently.

    He's not giving the Heat much more than an outside shot (1.0 RPG and .9 APG), but at least he is shooting the ball well. Mason Jr. has knocked down 11-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc (47.8 percent).

    While the Heat ask little of Mason Jr., he deserves credit for coming in and hitting shots, sometimes with a week in between appearances. 

    Grade: B

     

    James Jones

    As of late, Mason Jr. has replaced Jones as the extra guard to deploy in games when Wade is out, so playing time has come very sparingly for James lately. He's played just 19 minutes since Nov. 20.

    Still, like Mason Jr., all that can be desired from Jones is that he hit shots, and the former Miami Hurricane has done that.

    In the 58 minutes he's played over seven games, Jones has converted 8-of-16 three-pointers.

    Grade: B-

     

    Joel Anthony

    With Chris Andersen firmly entrenched as the backup center, Anthony has been rendered useless on this team. He's played just 30 minutes, made 1-of-4 shots and hauled down five rebounds.

    Right now, Anthony is strictly a garbage-time player with no room for increased minutes without an injury to another Heat big man. 

    Grade: C

Michael Beasley

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    The Heat's signing of Michael Beasley this offseason is looking like a genius decision. The former No.2 overall pick in the 2008 draft has delivered all season long.

    He's scoring the ball at a rate of 23.2 points per 36 minutes and is doing so by shooting an absurdly good 54.6 percent from the field. Beasley's been getting to the rim and doing a great job of finishing when he gets there (39-of-55 at the rim, according to NBA.com). He's also knocked down half his three-point attempts.

    On top of that, he's been highly productive on the glass (8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes). And with the Heat currently ranked as the worst rebounding team in the league, those rebounds are especially key.

    He hasn't been a liability on the defensive end, which one could have expected him to be given his play the past few season. This has allowed coach Erik Spoelstra to trust Beasley and play him 20, sometimes nearly 30 minutes a night, which lets Michael give Miami a big boost on the offensive end.

    Grade: A

Chris Andersen

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    Picking up from right where he left off last season, Chris "Birdman" Andersen has been a big help for this Heat team.

    He's 35 years old, but certainly hasn't looked like it.  Bleacher Report's own Ethan Skolnick recently touched on how well Andersen has moved this year:

    His legs look livelier than they did even last season, largely because he wasn't dealing with knee surgery and could come to camp in somewhat better condition than when he joined the Heat on Jan. 20.

    He's one of the Heat's few productive players on the glass, with 8.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. His activity on the defensive end is impressive; he's the Heat's top shot-blocker (2.3 per 36 minutes) and always makes his opponent work.

    Birdman is also a capable offensive player, something the Heat lack from their big men outside of Chris Bosh. He does a great job finishing on putbacks and cuts to the basket. His 62.8 shooting percentage is best on the team.

    Andersen is giving Miami just about all it could ask from him.  

    Grade: A-

Rashard Lewis

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    Rashard Lewis is not a helpful rebounder (he averages 4.6 per 36 minutes, which is pretty pitiful considering he's 6'10"), nor is he a skilled defender. 

    So, for him to be an asset to Miami, he's really got to be hitting his shots. And this season, Lewis has been up and down. He started off the season 10-of-21 from three, then went on a 1-of-14 slump and now has hit 6-of-13 in the Heat's past four games.

    Lewis has been a member of Miami's rotation for about the past month, but it will be key for him to be consistent with his jumper if he wants that role to remain for the rest of the season.

    Grade: B-

Shane Battier

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    Likely a product of the hard work being asked of him defensively, Shane Battier has gotten off to a not-so-hot start offensively. 

    At 35 years old and guarding power forwards bigger than him, Battier's body has taken a beating. Before the Heat's most recent game against the Indiana Pacers, Battier spoke with Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald about guarding David West and the toll his defensive assignment takes on his body:

    I caught a lucky break against Minnesota with Kevin Love not playing but this is the equivalent of murder’s row for me as a 6-8, 215-pound power forward. And it gets more difficult as it goes on. But you just fight like hell and do the best you can and live with it.

    Battier certainly deserves credit for holding his own against the stronger players he's guarding. Still, the Heat could use some more out of him on the offensive end. He's shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and his outside shooting has drastically declined from 43.0 percent last year to 30.4 percent this season.

    And while he's never been a big rebound or assist guy (especially since coming to Miami), it's worth noting he's on pace for a career low in both categories (1.8 RPG and .6 APG) 

    Grade: B-

Norris Cole

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    It wasn't too long ago when the odds of Norris Cole ever being a productive offensive player on the Heat looked very slim, but here we are. Along with his ferocious defensive work, the Cleveland State product is a legitimate asset to the Heat's outstanding offense.

    Cole is using his blazing speed to his advantage by driving to the basket more often this season. And he's having a lot of success when he gets there. According to NBA.com, Cole has driven to the basket 88 times this season and is shooting 50 percent on those drives. For comparison's sake, Wade has driven 89 times and is shooting 52.9 percent. That's not bad company for Cole to be with. 

    He's also shooting the ball great (42.1 percent on three-pointers), finding open teammates (5.1 assists per 36 minutes) and, believe it or not, rebounding the ball decently (4.3 per 36 minute).

    The main knock on Cole's game is he's still turning the ball over too much (2.2 TOs per 36 minutes). Still, the first quarter of the season has been a huge success for Norris. 

    Grade: A-

Ray Allen

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    When one thinks of consistency in the NBA, Ray Allen has got to be one of the first names to come to the mind. At 38 years old, Allen is having another season in which he shoots around 45.0 percent from the field (45.9 percent), 40.0 percent from three (38.9 percent) and 90 percent from the line (90.6 percent).

    Allen is performing exactly how we expected him to, which unfortunately for the Heat means he's also having some trouble staying with his man on the defensive end. 

    Still, the value of his shooting clearly outweighs the defensive issues, making this, yet another, solid year for Allen.

    Grade: B

Mario Chalmers

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    There might be an outcrying for Cole to start at point guard if Mario Chalmers weren't playing so well himself.

    Chalmers is also doing a nice job of getting to the basket (96 drives and 47.4 FG% on them, according to NBA.com), and as he did a year ago, is hovering around 40 percent shooting on his three-pointers (39.4 percent).

    'Rio's on pace to have a career year from a distributing standpoint as well; he's averaging six assists per 36 minutes.

    However, like Cole, Mario's had an issue with turnovers and is averaging 2.7 per 36 minutes. But when factored in that Chalmers is also stealing 2.4 balls per 36 minutes, that problem is lessened. 

    While Cole might be the more exciting Heat point guard, Chalmers has certainly held his own and displayed his worth to Miami through 22 games.

    Grade: B+

Chris Bosh

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    On the surface, it doesn't seem like Chris Bosh is having a very good season. He's averaging just 14.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, which would both be career worsts.

    While the lack of rebounds is certainly a problem and are partly why Miami finds itself only grabbing 35.5 of them per game, Bosh has been effective on the offensive end despite the low point totals. 

    He's shooting 50.5 percent from the field, but more importantly, is shooting 48.4 percent from 15-19 feet away from the basket, according to NBA.com. His ability to draw defenders out of the paint with the threat of his mid-range shot is crucial to the Heat's offensive success. 

    While the things Bosh does well don't jump out at us like a Wade "Eurostep" does, Chris remains a big reason why the Heat's offense scores 109.7 points per 100 possessions.

    Grade: B+

     

Dwyane Wade

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    It's impressive how well Dwyane Wade has played this year considering how cautious he and the team are being in regards to his health.

    Dwyane has been in and out of the lineup due to concerns about his knee; he's missed six of the Heat's first 22 games.

    And while Wade generally has looked healthy when he's out there, Dwyane has changed how he's approached the game in order to avoid getting banged up. Wade has been less aggressive than usual; according to Rotoworld, "42.7 percent of his shots [are] two-pointers coming outside of the paint compared to 33.8 percent last season."

    Even with the change of style, Wade is averaging 18.4 points per game on an impressive 52.3 percent shooting from the field, 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists, and he has a 22.01 PER.

    Wade might not be Flash anymore, but he's still plenty good to be the Robin to LeBron James' Batman.

    Grade: B+

LeBron James

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    How is this guy still getting better? LeBron put together one of the best seasons in league history last season, yet is producing at even higher level to start 2013-14. 

    En route to 25 points per game, LBJ is shooting 58.4 percent from the field and 43.3 percent on three-pointers. There's simply no stopping him; he's just too efficient. He can beat opponents going left, going right, from mid-range, from outside, all to such a high degree. 

    Also he's doing all of that unbelievable scoring work while being the Heat's top rebounder (6.5 boards per game), passer (6.3 assists) and best defender. 

    This is LeBron's world, folks.

    Grade: A