The Miami Heat are off to an 0-4 preseason start. Is this reminding Heat fans of anything?
Last year's preseason: 0-7
Last year's record: 15-67
So, does this current winless preseason translate to another embarrassing regular season for the Miami Heat? Lets not press the panic button just yet.
This year's preseason has been marred by injuries and questions regarding the starting lineup and overall team chemistry. But, there is still a lot of hope and potential for this revamped sqaud.
A lot of that hope comes in form of their unquestioned leader, superstar Dwyane Wade. Any team with Wade at the helm cannot be counted out. But, can Wade carry a team that doesn't have a reliable point guard or center? I say yes, because of the Heat's depth and two other names on the Miami roster: Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley.
The main reason for the Heat's inability to win this preseason has been their injuries and inconsistency. Just like last year when the Heat saw early injuries to Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, they have already suffered early injuries to James Jones, Chris Quinn, Jamaal Magloire, and Dorell Wright.
In addition, newly acquired Shaun Livingston hasn't played in a preseason game yet, due to his devastating knee injury that he suffered two years ago. Three-point specialist Jones is out three months with a wrist injury. Quinn is still hobbling from an ankle injury. Magloire is out six to eight weeks with a hand fracture. Finally, Wright is still hurting from last season's knee injury.
The loss of Jones is the biggest loss for the Heat. He was expected to be the team's main three-point shooter and replace the losses of Jason Kapono and James Posey. In his absence, Miami will have a tough time in being a perimeter threat.
Magloire was expected to compete for the starting center job, but now Mark Blount will fill that position. Wright, Quinn, and Livingston should all be ready by the start of the season or late November at the latest. But, the losses of Jones and Magloire will hurt the Heat the most this season.
In addition to the early injuries, the Heat have questions regarding their starting lineup. After Wade, Marion, and Udonis Haslem, there are no locks for the remaining starting spots. Point guard is the team's biggest hole.
While Quinn is the early favorite to win the position, Marcus Banks and Livingston can't be counted out. Quinn had a strong finish to last season when he averaged over 14 points in the final 20 games.
But, if Livingston can come back strong from his knee injury, he will be the favorite for the starting point guard. Also, rookie Mario Chalmers has tons of potential and could eventually be the guard of the future.
The center spot could see a lot of different variations. Opening night will most likely see Blount at the five spot. But, as the season progresses Haslem could see time as the starting center. In addition, Marion could even see time at center.
If Heat legend Alonzo Mourning can return midseason from his knee injury, the team will have decent depth at center. Magloire should be returning around the same time, which would mean either he or Mourning could start, and they would be backed up by Blount.
Although the Heat have questions at point guard and center, they still have a dynamic trio to work with. Wade and Marion will unquestionably be the teams leaders and be the team's main contributors. Second overall draft pick Michael Beasley will also be one of the team's main contributors. He will be a strong candidate for rookie of the year and could be a double-double machine by the year's end.
First year head coach, Erik Spoelstra, will also have a lot to work with from the bench when everyone returns. They have second year guard Daequan Cook, who will to continue his success after a strong rookie campaign. He will be asked to be the teams shooter when Jones is out. At the small forward positions, first round pick Dorell Wright and defensive specialist Yakhouba Diawara will be looked to provide depth. Wright will hopefully come out of his shell this year and be a big contributor.
And once Jones and Magloire come back from injury, they will be huge contributors from the bench.
The month of December could see a starting rotation of Livingston at point guard, Wade at shooting guard, Marion at small forward, Haslem at power forward, and Magloire at center. And if Beasley becomes the superstar he is expected to be, then he could be the start power forward and Haslem could move up to the five spot.
Although the Miami Heat have had a poor start to the offseason, they cannot be counted out this early. The team has a formidable trio in Wade, Marion, and Beasley, a deep bench, and a handful of youthful talent. The team just needs to time to gel and get used to each other. Once that happens and the team is healthy, they are a playoff contender and can make a strong bid for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference.
Any team that has a healthy Dwyane Wade has a chance, don't they?