Every team's fate, especially in the NBA, relies on the health of their star player.
If the Utah Jazz lost Deron Williams, they would lose their court leader and most athletic player; if the Dallas Mavericks lost Dirk Nowitzki, they would look like the Cleveland Cavaliers, except filled with proven veterans; if the Orlando Magic lost Dwight Howard, would they even top the Atlanta Hawks?
Last but not least, if the Minnesota Timberwolves lost Michael Beasley...well, nevermind.
What if the Cleveland Caval (a'hem) Miami Heat lost Lebron James? Would they still be a playoff team with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh?
I will give reasons why people might think they would, followed by the weakness in each statement:
Reasons Why They Would
- The East is as weak as ever this year and a team could easily make the playoffs with a win percentage below .400. At the time of this article, the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers are tied at eighth with a 7-11 record.
- Two Superstars are all you need with a good supporting cast.
- The Miami Heat fan base is passionate and would help them get over the hump.
- Mike Miller will help out in Lebron's absence.
- Chris Bosh made it to the playoffs a couple times in his career with the Toronto Raptors.
- Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers are supreme talents.
What seed in the Eastern Conference would the Miami Heat be if Lebron James were out for the rest of the season beginning in February?
- Without Lebron, the Heat are no different than any Heat team of the past and in fact, they are arguably worse. Dwayne Wade is perennially susceptible to injury and Chris Bosh does not have the talent to carry a team by himself. As bad as the East is, remember that the Miami Heat went 15-67 in 2007-08. Injuries can dismantle a team, but the way this Heat team is currently constructed makes them a few steps away from utter disaster.
- They wouldn't have two superstars because Chris Bosh has no right to be called a superstar. If Wade and Lebron really are the Jordan and Pippen of this era, then Chris Bosh is simply the Toni Kukoc. Cavaliers fans chanted "Scottie Pippen!" at Lebron James, and I would expect nothing less than "Toni Kukoc!" chants when Raptors fans "welcome" Chris Bosh back to Toronto.
- False. The fan base has shown no signs of being passionate. They have a hard time getting up for the beloved Miami Thrice, so what would that mean if Lebron got injured? Is it possible that Lebron believes in his heart that the Miami Heat fan base is loyal and passionate? At the moment, it seems like he picked one of the most unmotivated fan bases in the league.
- Mike Miller will make some shots and handle the ball well, just as he did on the Washington Wizards last year. Yes, so that Miller-Bosh combo would really hold the fort on those nights that Wade is injured.
- Key phrase is "a couple times."
- Lebron James sees Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers and then wishes he recruited Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson to come to the Heat with him.
The bottom line is that this Heat team is one injury away from turning into a team with nothing but mediocrity as their potential.
Without either Wade or Lebron, this team has no chance of being anything special. They are having enough problems figuring out how to play with each other.
Would this team make the playoffs?
PG - Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers
SG - Dwayne Wade, Eddie House
SF - Mike Miller, James Jones, Jerry Stackhouse
PF - Chris Bosh, Juwan Howard
C - Zydrunas Ilguaskas, Joel Anthony, Erick Dampier
Injured Reserve - Lebron James
In the East, it is sadly possible; in the West, it would not stand a chance.
That is the most sickening part of this all: The Heat can coast to the Playoffs and that's exactly what Miami Thrice wants.
Along the way, it might help their resume if they beat a quality team. Until then, their greatest feat will be a blowout win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.