After having one successful championship season with Shaquille O’Neal, the Miami Heat had a disastrous 2007-08 season. The coaching situation caused some drama, Shaq and Dwyane Wade had injury problems, and the rest of the team was not helping the Heat to a respectable point. The season was a bust for the Heat and their fans.
This season, the Heat will look past what happened last season and focus on the present. Shaq isn’t on the team anymore, Shawn Marion will be a loyal sidekick to Wade, and No. 2 pick Michael Beasley will be a candidate for Rookie of the Year. New head coach Erik Spoelstra will try to bring a winning attitude to the team, despite it being his first head coaching job.
Wade showed that he is still a top three player in the league by becoming one of the leaders for Team USA over the summer. He showed that he still has the nice stroke and ability to finish around the rim successfully. He will be a candidate for MVP this year, if Miami’s record isn’t below what’s expected of them. Wade knows that the Heat have a lot to prove.
"My team was 15-67 last year," Wade said. "Of course, I'm going to always have fun and enjoy the game, but at the same time you have to play with a chip on your shoulder. And I feel everyone in the locker room should play with a chip on their shoulder, because we have something to prove."
The team will feed off these words by Wade, and will be motivated to play hard.
Shawn Marion should help the Heat defensively and will crash the boards fiercely with Udonis Haslem, who is one of the most underrated players in the league.
Marion runs the break well and will benefit from Wade’s court vision and passing ability. Haslem played only half of last season, but when he played, he was good for nearly a double-double. Playing side-by-side, Marion and Haslem will make the Heat a better rebounding team.
Rookie point guard Mario Chalmers did have some trouble this offseason with marijuana and got fined for it. Hopefully, off-court distractions won’t be a big part of his career.
Chalmers is known for the infamous shot he hit against Memphis in the Final Four championship game to send his Kansas Jayhawks on their way to the title.
He will be bringing a positive attitude into the season, whether he starts or comes off the bench.
Beasley, on the other hand, didn’t go too far in the college basketball bracket, but was an All-American and arguably the best college basketball player last season. He is already looking to be an MVP type player.
"I want to be MVP, no disrespect to nobody," the rookie said. "I don't ever want to be second best. I feel I can walk down those steps to the locker room and be better than everybody else. I think going for Rookie of the Year is selling myself short."
He sure has tons of confidence, which will help Miami not only for the season, but in the long run as well. Beasley will be one of the top players for the Heat and a future leader of the team alongside Wade.
The Heat lost point guard Jason Williams and swingman Ricky Davis this offseason. The rest of the bench will have to come up big to make up for those key losses in order to help Miami contend for the playoffs. Newly acquired Shaun Livingston will most likely come off the bench for some time, and will help the team by filling in for Williams.
With the Eastern Conference teams getting a little stronger than they were last season, the Heat may have to win over 40 games to qualify for the playoffs. I see Miami making the playoffs, but at best getting to the second round in the playoffs.
Marion will bring some playoff experience to this squad, and Wade will try to look like the Finals MVP he was a few seasons ago. But, most of the squad doesn’t have enough experience for the team to go out and have a championship type season.
The Miami Heat will be a good team this year and could be as low as the fifth or maybe even fourth seed. The bench will be the X-factor for the team; they will have to come up big.
Coach Spoelstra will try to get Miami back to the top of the Eastern Conference soon. This year will be a learning experience for the Heat, but it will be a good one.