There is a great deal of speculation as to just how far the new look Miami Heat will go in the upcoming NBA season. Many sports writers have the Heat going deep into the playoffs in year one of the new "big three's" arrival. However, almost all of these "experts" have them falling short of winning an NBA championship.
The Heat cleaned house in the off season so that they could pull off the biggest score in free agency history, targeting Toronto's Chris Bosh and Cleveland's Lebron James. As of July 7th, their roster contained only four players.Going "all in" paid off for the franchise, and they managed to acquire both James and Bosh while keeping superstar Dwayne Wade in the fold.
However, these unprecedented off season acquisitions have raised some questions as to just how well this veritable clash of the titans will translate into a high level of play on the court. I'm going to focus on three of these questions.
Question 1: Can this Easter basket of egos coexist as an unselfish team?
Team captain Dwayne Wade actually accepted slightly less money than Bosh and James just to get the three together.
Bosh can play the power position from the high and the low post. This gives them flexibility with play calling and allows James and Wade the luxury to drive, draw and dish, pick and roll, give and go, etc... James has always been a pass first player at heart, so I don't foresee a problem with them fighting each other over big shots at key times.
How far will the Heat go in 2010-2011?
Wade has had to play with his team on his back since he came into the league, and has expressed his desire to have some talent with which to share the load. With Wade's broad skill set at the 2 guard; James unrivaled combination of strength, agility, and decision making ability at small forward; and Bosh's ability to play the center position against smaller opponents, there should be no issues with "who gets to do what." Their styles of play compliment one another very well. Not to mention, they all have all-star talent. This brings us to...
Question 2: Can a team win a championship when the core players have little or no experience playing together?
To answer this question, I'll go back to the "dream teams 1 and 2", as well as the "redeem team", the latter of which all three of these men played on. All-stars from various teams and walks of life came together to compete against the very best the world had to offer on a quest to achieve a common goal : winning a gold medal.
Each of these teams did exactly that. The "redeem team" played against more talented international teams than Olympic teams of the past, as the popularity of the sport has grown throughout the world. As a result, There are more international players in the NBA now than there ever has been, and Bosh, James, and Wade were all members of our most recent gold medal team.
Also, let us not forget the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics. They had a very similar set of circumstances, and they went on to win an NBA championship. That being said, we move on to...
Question 3: Is it realistic to expect an average team to reach champion status in one season just because they pick up a few talented players?
I sight , again, the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics. The very first season that PF Kevin Garnet and SG Ray Allen joined the team, they did exactly that. With the exception of Paul Pierce and a few roll players, coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge basically scrapped and rebuilt the team in the off-season after going 24-and 58 the previous season and missing the playoffs each of the previous two seasons.
The 2007-2008 team carried only six players from the previous year's roster, and still managed to win it all. Miami's new "big 3" is more youthful and more versatile than that of the Celtics was.
Miami's young head coach Erik Spoelstra is entering his third full season as head coach and has had the Heat in the playoffs each of the last 2 seasons, giving them a leg up on The Celtics' championship team.
GM Pat Riley has not only managed to land the top 3 free agents in the league, but has already gotten 2 other solid role players (Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem) to commit for less money than they were offered in other cities. Drafting West Virginia forward De'Sean Butler doesn't hurt either. If this team hits the ground running, there is no limit to what they can accomplish not only this season, but for many years to come.
Obviously, the Lakers are the team to beat in the NBA, being that they are the reigning champs. Eleven time champion coach Phil Jackson is returning, as is the bulk of there lineup which has won back-to-back titles, but the Heat have to be considered the odds-on favorite to win the eastern conference and compete for the championship.
Nothing is set in stone, but this should be quite an exciting upcoming season for all basketball fans (who don't live in Cleveland) to watch.