LeBron James Decision: Why Miami Heat Won't Win Finals Next Season
Now that the LeBronapalooza is over, the LeBronocalypse has come and gone, and the LeBronathon has been completed, the Miami Heat bandwagon is welcoming newcomers.
Well, I’m not one of ‘em.
Miami still needs to take several more steps before they’re ready to contend for a championship.
The first step might be filling out the other seven roster spots, included the one recently vacated by Michael Beasley.
Will this tremendous trio win a title before it’s all said and done? Probably. But here’s why its first ring won’t come in 2011.
1. No Team Chemistry
Relax. Before you jump out of your seat, I’m not talking about the threesome of All Stars.
I’m talking about everybody else whoever that might eventually be.
We already know Mike Miller will likely be one piece to Pat Riley’s puzzle, although I fail to see how he’ll be effective.
How can a team that has never played together—literally, most of the players will have never played on the same team—possibly contend for a title?
This isn’t baseball where you have individual at bats. This is basketball. Not even the greatest one-on-one players can win a championship without a supporting cast.
The names Tony Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Bruce Bowen all ring a particular bell.
I’m confident Miami will at least contend for a title with the Miami Thrice intact, but with a roster of strangers, playing alongside each other is going to take some getting used to.
2. No Roster
Perhaps I got ahead of myself by saying Miami won’t have any team chemistry.
To have team chemistry, or not have it, you have to at least have a team in place first.
Miami will turn to veterans to sign for the minimum contract, and a chance to play with their big three.
One has to wonder if Alonzo Morning should expect a phone call soon.
This situation is laughable, to be quite honest. All this individual talent on one team, and they’ll be able to get 25 shots a game because they’ll have no one on the court with them.
Heck, maybe Pat Riley will become the first player-GM in the NBA.
The Heat need to round out its roster before the NBA Finals can appear on their radar. They have no center, no bench, no legitimate point guard unless LeBron James plays the point…
3. LeBron James is NOT Magic Johnson
I’ll say it again, LeBron is not Magic.
Nor will he ever be.
There’s been talk that James could start at the point, and play a Magic-type role on this Heat team, where he shoots less, facilitates, and rebounds more.
I ask you this: how can one of the best scorers in the NBA right now, and possibly ever, accept a role as a delegator, not a shot-taker?
Has James stuck his tail this far between his legs?
We know he’s a coward, and that he chose the ultimate cop-out in teaming up with Miami instead of proving he could win in Cleveland, improving Chicago, or becoming immortal in New York.
James wants the easy title, and maybe that’s okay.
But he’s not a point guard, or a point forward, or whatever made up position he’ll probably play next year.
James is a scorer. He’s an alpha dog. He’s a go-to player.
Remember the playoffs against Orlando when he hit the miraculous buzzer beater?
Okay, now picture that same scenario, except instead of LeBron drilling the shot, he dishes to Wade, and watches as his teammate makes the shot, and gets the hugs, and the love.
See the problem?
James can handle the ball, there’s no question about that, but he can’t do it the way Magic did because he’s not the same kind of player.
So before the comparisons even begin, let's cut that conversation short right now.
4. Weak front court
Does Pat Riley really think Chris Bosh can keep Pau Gasol in check for an entire series?
How about Tim Duncan?
Heck, Blake Griffin is probably tougher that Bosh.
Oh, and that’s provided the Heat get past Eastern Conference front courts that feature Carlos Boozer/Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis/Kendrick Perkins.
Memo to Heat fans: Bosh is soft. He’s not a banger, he’s a finesse guy.
Right now, Bosh would have to play center, while Mike Miller possibly occupies the power forward slot.
Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers probably aren’t too worried.
Even with Bosh at center, the Heat still need help, because Bosh has never been the type of big man who is going to crash the boards for 20 a night.
In addition, he’s not a shot blocker, having averaged just one block per game each of the last three seasons.
Miami needs rebounding, shot-blocking, and toughness in the paint if they want to succeed, and right now, the depth is not there.
Side note: who wouldn’t love watching Shaquille O’Neal team up with someone like Amar’e Stoudemire (again) or Elton Brand to really give Miami fits?
5. Weak back court
Let’s be honest, Miami is loaded at small forward.
I’ve always been on the fence about what to classify your small forward.
Is he a back court player because he plays the wing, is he a front court guy because he’s a forward?
Well, I’ll make it simple: in Miami’s case, it’s neither.
Until the Heat fill out their roster, it remains to be seen what position (or better yet, role) Wade and James will play.
Miami could easily sign a point guard like Luke Ridnour to facilitate the offense, or could let LeBron play point, and let Wade play the two, and Miller the three.
This kind of move is not unheard of. Remember some of Kobe Bryant’s defensive matchups this postseason?
In an ideal world, Chalmers develops quicker because of the talent around him, and becomes a solid passing point guard who aids James, Wade, and Bosh.
But I’m not an idealist, and I don’t think Chalmers is winning Miami a ring. Not now at least.
The Heat will explore several options, but until they sure up the point guard spot, they won’t win a title.
6. Coaching situation
I’ll go on the record and express my condolences for Erik Spoelstra, who will probably be fired after his first loss next season.
Miami Herald headline: Heat finally lose, fall to 10-1, fire coach.
Pat Riley will NOT watch the entire season from the owner’s box.
You can take it to the bank that Riley will return to the bench to coach Miami at some point next season.
But how could changing coaches mid-season possibly be a good thing?
Yeah, yeah, we know Riley did it way back when in L.A., but this is different.
You’re going to take a team of players who have no experience together, and change coaches mid season? That doesn’t sound like a winning strategy to me.
And say Spoelstra does survive the year as coach, is he really the guy who’s going to win Miami another ring?
If the Heat do win, Spoelstra probably won’t be the guy to thank for that.
7. The Big Three will be overworked
Providing Miami doesn’t put together an All Star supporting cast around Wade, James, and Bosh, the Miami Thrice will have to log a lot of minutes next season.
It doesn’t matter what kind of incredible physical shape these guys are in, there’s no way they can play 43-46 minutes per game, every night, for 100 games.
Wade has a history of shoulder injuries, James just showed in the postseason he’s not immune to the injury bug, and how long before Bosh’s mileage catches up with him?
It’s only natural for their bodies to get tired in June after starting a season in late October.
And it’s not like Miami can afford to lose one of the big three for an extended period of time, either.
Wade has never averaged more than 40 minutes per game in his entire seven game career, and neither has Bosh.
James hasn’t averaged 40 minutes per game since 2007-08.
Come playoff time, these three stars are going to be tired, and unless they’re planning on attending the "Kobe Bryant Log-Insane-Minutes and Battle Injuries Camp" this summer, then Miami will have troubles in June.
8. Too much hype and pressure
Can a team really have too much hype?
Usually I’d say no, but I’m willing to make an exception for the Heat.
Every play of every Heat game will be over-analyzed next year, with criticisms flying at them left and right.
The pressure is on now for LeBron, and solely on LeBron.
This wasn’t the summer of Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, this was the summer of LeBron James.
The Boshathon? The Dwyane Wade Saga? No, that’s just silly.
Next season, all eyes will be on LeBron James. His move to South Beach was supposed to bring him a title, even if the better option for him this offseason was probably Chicago.
James has become only the third league MVP to change teams immediately after winning the award. The others were Wilt Chamberlain and Moses Malone.
The pressure, hype, and buzz is all about James, and if he can finally win a title.
Wade’s already got one, and let’s be honest, nobody other than Chris Bosh himself will lose sleep if the Big Lizard doesn’t get a ring.
9. Eastern Conference is too good
As strange as that may sound, the East is just too good for Miami to make a Finals run in 2010-11.
Chicago will surely contend this season, having bolstered its front court.
Orlando will be in the running again, led by Dwight Howard in the middle, and players like Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. (I’ll take Carter, Lewis, and Howard over Miami’s three in the playoffs).
Boston will be good again next season, albeit another year older.
Miami is talented, I’m not saying they’re not, but they’re not deep enough.
Miami is going to try and outscore its opponents with the James/Wade/Bosh combination.
But other teams are going to play defense, and push Miami around a little bit.
And after playing a full season and logging all the minutes, the Heat may not be able to handle the physicality.
10. Can Wade and James share the ball?
We’re one day into this Heat trifecta, and already this question seems old.
But it’s worth asking, because the answer is yes… and no.
One day down the road, Wade, James, and Bosh will find a way to make this combination work.
But it’s going to take time.
Sure they played together for a few games in Beijing in 2008. Um, that was two years ago, you think the magic of a few games a few years ago is going to just show up?
Didn’t think so.
James is a scorer, and he needs to get his 30 points a night. Wade is a scorer, and he needs his share, too.
Together, I suppose Wade and James could each average 30 per game, Bosh 20, and everyone else 15, to get to 95 a game. Nah, who we kidding, that won’t work.
If James does in fact accept a limited role in the offense (at least scoring-wise), then he’s even softer and more pathetic than the city of Cleveland already thinks he is.
There’s something to be said about winning a championship, but to abandon your personal aspirations of leading a team to a ring to achieve your goal takes away from it.
How can you possibly explain how LeBron winning a title at the side of Wade and with Bosh helping is better than defeating Kobe Bryant or Carmelo Anthony after getting past Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, and Wade?
I don’t see how these three stars will be able to share the spotlight in the beginning. Maybe a few years down the road, they’ll figure it out, but for now, I’ll say it’s a work in progress.