Predicting Miami Heat's Biggest Surprises and Breakout Players in 2014-15
The Miami Heat have a compelling season ahead of them.
With LeBron James now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, just about every player on the back end of Miami's roster has a chance to contribute, and the top guys will possess bigger roles than they did a year ago.
We're going to break down which Miami players are going to take advantage of that and break out, and which won't and will disappoint.
James Ennis Will Have an Impact
It's hard to project just how much run the Heat will give rookie James Ennis this season. Miami hasn't displayed a desire to make young players key contributors in recent years.
But I expect Ennis to play well in whatever role he's given.
The 24-year-old has displayed NBA-level talent in summer league play the past two years. In six games this year, he averaged 15.5 points (51.7% FG, 48.1% 3PT), 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
He possesses the length, athleticism and shooting ability necessary to play the 2 or 3 in today's game.
Ennis might not put up big numbers in Year 1, but expect him to flash potential of what could be a very successful career.
Danny Granger Won't Have an Impact (at Least Not a Good One)
It's hard to fault the Heat for taking a flier on Danny Granger this summer. Granger's a former All-Star, and if he returns to even a semblance of the level he used to play at, it will probably be regarded as a wise signing.
But there's not a whole lot of reason to believe he's capable of turning things around at this point.
At 31 and many injuries away from his prime, Granger is simply far from the player he once was.
He will get playing time to start the season because Miami doesn't have a lot of options, but don't expect a big year from Granger.
Mario Chalmers Will Have a Career Year
Perhaps no Heat player from the past few years has been more heavily criticized than Mario Chalmers. This has made Chalmers underrated, even factoring in how poor he played in the 2014 NBA playoffs.
Chalmers averaged 9.8 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game in 2013-14. He's developed into a solid spot-up shooter, and his 38.5 three-point percentage ranked best on the Heat last season.
He can finish at the rim and has displayed a better feel for the game in recent years, knowing when and where to feed his teammates and when to score himself.
With LeBron James gone, Chalmers is going to be handling the ball more in 2014-15, and those abilities will be on display even more.
If he can hold off Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier—which he should be able to do—Chalmers should post career highs in points and assists this upcoming season.
Dwyane Wade Will Rebound from Terrible 2014 NBA Finals
Speaking of guys who underperformed in last season's playoffs, Dwyane Wade's showing in the 2014 NBA Finals has led many to label him "washed up."
But, as bad as Wade was against the San Antonio Spurs, that label is unfair.
Wade was terrific during the regular season and even better in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. D-Wade averaged 19.8 points (56.5% FG), 4.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game against Paul George and Co.
If Wade can stay healthy—he's lost weight this summer in an effort to make that an easier task, according to Steve Dorfman of The Palm Beach Post—there's no reason to believe he shouldn't have a big year in 2014-15.
Wade will have an even bigger role on Miami's offense with LeBron no longer a teammate, so a 20-5-5 season should be well within reach.
Chris Bosh Will Excel in His New Role
Wade and Chalmers are going to see clear increases in their individual production with LeBron a Cavalier. Chris Bosh will see an enormous one.
Bosh has seen his numbers dip in Miami playing as the third fiddle, but there is a great chance that the big man is the Heat's top offensive option when the season rolls around.
Bosh has the skills to handle such a role. He's a versatile offensive talent—elite from mid-range and a three-point threat—and a perfect fit in coach Erik Spoelstra's small-ball offense.
An average of 22 points and eight rebounds per game while leading Miami to a top-four seed could very easily be how Bosh's 2014-15 campaign turns out.