Miami Heat: 4 Keys To Hoisting the 2012 Championship
On any given day during the NBA season, the feature story of all the major sports networks was the Miami Heat. The media would over-analyze the reasons for each small losing streak, mainly blaming Chris Bosh, Erik Spoelstra or Pat Riley.
Despite these tribulations, the Heat endured the brutal season and defeated the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls en route to an NBA Finals appearance. Now after their second-place finish, most everyone is condemning the season as a failure.
Many sports analysts have even created this idea that trading LeBron James or Bosh would be beneficial. Classic overreaction.
The problem is not Bosh, LeBron or Dwyane Wade. Frankly, there isn’t even a problem. A year from now we will all be discussing where the Heat rank among the all-time great teams.
However, they cannot expect to simply perform as they did last season, or it may end the same, heartbreaking way. So, here are a few keys to success for next season.
Do Not Trade Any of the Big Three
Pat Riley is one of the few men ever to assemble a championship team overnight—he did it twice. Most recently he was able to bring the top three free agents together for near max contracts, an unprecedented feat.
There is no way that he would go through all the trouble and negative publicity to merely ship one of those guys away. He is much smarter than that. So, sorry Bosh haters, he will be in Miami for at least one more season.
This is a really, really good thing for the Heat. Let’s take a moment and think: What motivates people more than anything?
Who was the most disrespected player in the NBA last season?
Chris Bosh was by far. Every media outlet consistently shredded Bosh the entire season. Some fellow NBA players began mocking Bosh, most notably Carlos Boozer—who, for the record, he outplayed. And it even got so bad that many Heat fans began to boo him.
This offseason, Bosh will train harder than ever to become a legitimate post presence.
Moreover, the same will go with LeBron James. He has been publicly humiliated by every media outlet. Jokes about only getting 75 cents or three periods should be more than adequate to motivate LeBron to perfect his jump shot and develop a go-to move for the fourth quarter.
The problem with the logic of most sports writers that are demanding a trade by Miami is that they fail to realize the Big Three are still early in their prime. They will continue to improve. Next year’s “Miami Thrice” will be far better than their inaugural season.
Trust Mike Miller
Most everyone, including Mike Miller, believes that last season was a failure for him personally. He suffered several injuries that really derailed his season and prevented him from developing chemistry with his teammates.
He is one of the top five players on the team; that is why he is making around $5 million a season. He has garnered a reputation as one of the purest three-point shooters in the league. That reputation is well deserved considering the fact that he shot 48 percent with the Wizards prior to joining the Heat.
However, even if he doesn’t hit another shot, he will be worth keeping on the court. This is because he is a 6’8" shooting guard, a matchup nightmare.
His size allows him to do two things very well: rebound and defense. When it comes to rebounding, he is elite for his position. If he is able to snag his usual six a game, that will prevent the second-chance buckets and allow LeBron and Wade to streak down court for fast-break opportunities.
He is not only a better rebounder than his fellow perimeter substitutes, but he is also a more versatile defender. Anyone that has watched a Heat game would know that their matchups do not hold much merit.
Each player will begin the possession by defending his designated opponent, but after screens and a few pick-and-rolls, Joel Anthony is stuck guarding Derrick Rose for the possession. This would leave Rose looking to force the ball into Boozer for an easy bucket.
However, this is when Mike Miller’s length is essential. He has the ability to guard a post player after a switch. Moreover, he has the ability to defend a team’s best perimeter shooter by smothering him.
Overall, his defensive presence and rebounding ability will prove to be indispensable as the Heat gear up for another championship run. All he must do is stay healthy for the 2012 season.
Sign a Free-Agent Center
There are three guys that would fit well in Miami to rotate with Joel Anthony: Kwame Brown, Samuel Dalembert and Eddy Curry.
Kwame Brown is generally referred to as the biggest bust in NBA history. This will play well for the Heat for several reasons.
For one, they know that he has the talent to be a good NBA center; that is why he was drafted first overall. If he is placed on a team with as much talent as the Heat, chances are that he will have a career year.
Additionally, since he has had such a poor history as an NBA center, he will likely fall into the desired price range of the Heat. This will allow them to actually sign him.
Finally, he will be motivated to prove himself, just like Chris Bosh. The difference is that Bosh is doing it for pride, while Brown will be working for a better paycheck. Nevertheless, his bottled-up frustration could finally burst out and allow him to be a very solid center for the Heat.
Dalembert has made plenty of money in the league over his long and prosperous career. So this year, money likely isn’t going to be a deciding factor. He will be more focused on the location of the team and the potential championship prospects.
Fortunately for Miami, they are located in one of the best cities to live in and are championship favorites.
So if they are able to bring Dalembert to Miami, they will be getting a solid veteran center with loads of experience and decent talent. Last season he grabbed eight rebounds and eight points a night. Those stats will help to relieve some of the scoring pressure off of the Big Three.
Finally, there is Eddy Curry.
He is an average rebounder and below-average defender who didn’t even play last season. Why should they sign him?
For one, he will accept the veterans’ minimum salary, thus there is absolutely no risk involved. More importantly, he can score better than any of the centers on the Heat roster. If he can shed a few pounds, he would give the Heat a burst off the bench for a solid 10 minutes a game.
The center position is going to be weak for the Heat until they are able to find one through the draft. They may already have drafted their future center, Dexter Pittman, but he will not be ready for the starting role this year.
So for now, it is Joel Anthony and whichever veteran the Heat can sign.
Sign the Best Available Veteran with Mid-Level Exception
The players that the Heat should target, in order of best-case scenario to worst-case scenario:
All of these players are established veterans that, with the exception of Prince and Brown, have not won a championship. Now it is unlikely that Brown or Carter would be willing to accept the $5.85 million exception, but Battier, Prince or Kirilenko would improve the team defense significantly.
Finally, Redd and Ford were once great players, but now have found bench roles on mediocre teams. They may help the Heat, but they would not be worth the mid-level exception.
The Heat are going to win the championship in 2012, if there is a season. All they need to do is maintain their current core and bring in a few veterans, which Pat Riley will likely accomplish.
But on the off chance that there isn't an NBA season in 2012, watch the college game and put your money on Kentucky because they have the unprecedented Big Five.