Make no mistake; the Miami Heat have gotten a lot better very, very quickly.
They now have a core in place that will be the foundation for possibly the next great NBA dynasty.
But anyone who is expecting the Larry O'Brien Trophy in Year 1 is probably going to be horribly disappointed.
I understand the hype and the star power of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade. Three of the best players in the NBA all on the same court for the same team.
But a team is not three players.
The Heat are a team that still have some important questions to answer before anyone should consider them a lock to even win the Eastern Conference, much less the NBA Finals.
A championship team is as much defined by their secondary players as it is their stars. For every Kobe/Shaq tandem, there is the Derek Fisher. For every Duncan/Robinson star power, there is a Robert Horry.
Who is going to be the sharpshooter that picks up the offensive slack when one of these stars is in foul trouble, or has an off-night, or is being blanketed by every available defender that can be scrounged up?
Who is the bench player that generates energy and maintains momentum when the starters are gassed?
And while James, Wade, and Bosh are all known around the league for their ability to score, none of them are regarded as elite defenders.
Where will the Heat find that defensive stopper that locks down the opponents best scorer? Who will be the defensive presence on those occasions where the shots aren't falling?
Also, who is going to be the inside presence that controls the paint? Bosh is a Power Forward. He doesn't like matching up with Centers, nor does he do terribly well when he's pushed into it.
Against the likes of Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum or Glenn Davis (opponents that the Heat will very likely have to go through to claim the title), the lack of an inside presence will be glaring.
Where is the big body that will keep the paint clear and defenses honest for the stars to explode?
Right now, I don't see those players on the Miami roster, nor does it look like the Heat will have the resources to acquire them.
At least, not this year.
It's entirely possible that the Heat find those hidden gems in their draft picks or with minimum contracts; but I don't think it is likely.
Nor is that saying they aren't ever going to. In fact, I fully expect no limit of players on the tail end of their careers gladly taking the MLE in the years to come with the promise of a championship ring.
I expect the Heat to be more than capable of finding the little pieces to the puzzle in future draft to compliment the high powered core that has found itself on South Beach.
I merely ask that the Miami faithful be patient and to not expect too much too quickly. The first year of this budding super-team might be a bit rocky, and the end result is most likely not going to be the franchise's second NBA title.
But the potential in these years to come will be something special to watch.
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