Miami Heat: Erik Spoelstra's Thought Process Behind Starting Mario Chalmers

Danny DolphinAnalyst IJanuary 24, 2011

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 13, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Heat 130-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In a move greatly overshadowed by the rebirth of Mike Miller last Saturday night, Mario Chalmers has slipped into the starting lineup over Carlos Arroyo.

It’s a somewhat puzzling shakeup because what the Heat need from their supporting cast is consistent production when called upon. Mario has been as steady as an earthquake.

He should consider this promotion a gift, because he hasn’t really earned it. Chalmers’ game lives on the edge, which has to drive coach Erik Spoelstra nuts.

It’s always one step forward followed by a step back. He’ll make an incredible defensive play only to be followed up by a botched layup.

He’ll hit a clutch open three to be followed by a bonehead foul with Miami already in the penalty.

You get the picture. The guy is a firecracker. You never know which direction he’s headed.

His three-point shooting has been solid at 37.8 percent (a career high), but his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.8 ranks 54th among point guards.

In contrast, Arroyo shoots 46 percent from three, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.5, which ranks 22nd.

There’s absolutely no question Arroyo is the more consistent, more efficient player. While some might argue Chalmers has the advantage defensively, I beg to differ.

Arroyo might not have the quickest feet or hands but he’s still a decent help defender and does a good job keeping his man in front of him. He has a high basketball I.Q. on both ends of the court and you can see he knows where he’s supposed to be at all times.

Chalmers, the superior athlete in regards to speed and quickness, should be a great defender. However, his atrocious 4.7 fouls per 48 minutes indicates otherwise. He does have quick hands and gets some steals, but you would too when you gamble 80 percent of the time.

If he’s getting a steal for every two or three defensive mishaps, it’s clearly not an advantage. It’s like someone giving you a dollar and taking away three.

Yes, Chalmers’ ceiling might be higher than Arroyo’s because it’s only his third year in the league. But for him to be a sticking point in the rotation on this championship contender, he needs to want it.

I can’t think of a single part of his game he has improved since his rookie season. In fact, I think he was a better defender two years ago than he is now.

That’s not good.

Players who don’t improve from one year to the next don’t work as hard.

It’s really that simple. If you bust your tail and put in the hours you will become a better player. He doesn’t strike me as a go-getter, but I hope he proves me wrong.

I believe the biggest reason the move was made was that Mario’s head is his biggest enemy. Giving him the starting job has to give him a boost mentally. Maybe this will add more consistency to his game.

Maybe he will put in more hours in the gym and give more effort. After all, his best basketball in a Heat uniform came when he was a starter.

We know what we have in Arroyo, a safe, consistent veteran presence. We’re still searching to see what we have in Mario, because he does have decent potential.

Let’s see how bad he wants it.