Miami Heat fans have a lot to be excited for next season. They will have the opportunity to see their team feature arguably three of the top-10 players in the NBA in their starting lineup.
The Heat could have the finest two-swingmen combo to ever play with each other in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Chris Bosh is a 20-10 player, one who in only seven years holds the Toronto Raptor all-time scoring, rebound, blocks, double-double, and minutes played records.
In order to accomplish putting together this "Big-3" Heat team, president and GM Pat Riley has been forced to roundout his roster with less than prestige names and talent.
Riley may have made a misstep in his choice of shooting guard Mike Miller to grant the biggest contract he had aside from those three. Miller has been frequently injured throughout his career. He is also a defensive liability, to say the least.
Not only that, but playing Miller alongside the Big-3 will require LeBron to run the point guard position. There is no doubt that Miller and LeBron will not be able to contain speedy point guards, who will be able to break them down. Simply, Mike Miller nor LeBron can properly cover speedy guards.
Therefore, point guards Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers probably will see little playing time with the first team. Riley must envision them as mostly backups. That must be the case because granting the contract he did to Miller indicates he will be utilized as a starter.
Another weakness that Riley may not have adequately solved is at the center position. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a proven, big-bodied veteran and a nice rebounder, however, he is ill-fitted to play as a center alongside Bosh. Big-Z is a good jump shooter, but most of the time he is outside the lane looking for a pass. This is similar to Bosh, who needs to also be positioned outside the lane to best utilize his speed and quickness.
It is true that Riley had little to choose from as far as big men on a shoestring budget, but he probably should have used his biggest contract-chip on a better quality center.
Apparently, Riley is trying to fill the center spot by committee. Alongside Ilgauskas, he has brought in Jamaal Magloire, Joel Anthony, and rookie Dexter Pittman. Magloire brings toughness but little else, Anthony brings a 6'9'' frame and a lifetime 2.5 points per game average. Pittman has yet to play an NBA game in his life.
Udonis Haslem is a nice pickup and adds a strong, hardworking, positive presence. Haslem, though, is likely only to see time if Bosh moves over to play center, a position he has reluctantly played in the past.
Chink in the Heat armor? More like a full-blown crack.
Shaquille O'Neal is one player who would fit in well, but likely won't get the call from Riley. This is because Shaq got into a physical altercation with his former coach back in 2007 after Riley tried to throw him out of practice. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns soon after.
Miami will try to weather the storm this season, but they probably won't get a chance to bring in a better supporting cast until the next offseason in 2011.
Riley is hoping that the advantage the Heat have from having LeBron and Wade on the floor and the incredible matchup problems they cause will be enough to offset the disadvantages they will be facing at center and off-guard.
However, teams that attack the Heat through the paint will be effective, as will those teams with quick guards. Teams that have both speed at guard and front court size, will be especially effective.
Containing the Big-3 then becomes imperative, especially LeBron and Wade. To be successful it isn't necessary to shut them down, just slow them down. Either Wade or LeBron is capable of dropping 40 to 50 points on a given night, and it might take those nights for the Heat to beat the better teams.
One other fact that must be mentioned: We have yet to see how the new "Batman & Robin" combination will actually work between LeBron and Wade. Both of their games have overlapping similarities, and both players have been the focus of each of their teams offense.
It is thought that LeBron will assume more of a distributor role with the Heat, but how effective that strategy will be at the end of close games remains to be seen. LeBron has been a reluctant passer at the end of close playoff games in the past two seasons, essentially playing 1-on-5 at times.
LeBron also will be facing the prospect of his going to Miami to join the Heat in effect is making him the Robin. Will LeBron be satisfied to be a complimentary player? Obviously, he is interested in branding and marketing, high-level success at those things are incompatible with becoming a sidekick.
It was Michael Jordan getting the big endorsements that LeBron is seeking, not Scottie Pippen. Will this create pressure on LeBron to try to usurp the spotlight, to assert his game ahead of Bosh and especially Wade? Will LeBron start dominating possession like he did with the Cavaliers? We will find out in the years to come.
Riley has done well, his biggest accomplishment was getting the Big-3 to come to Miami. However, outside of that, he has been less effective in his maneuvers; much of this simply has to do with a lack of available, cost-effective players he can choose from.
It is unlikely that teams will be able to match up to the Big-3, however it is roster slots 4-12 that may likely be the undoing for the Miami Heat this upcoming season.