Miami Heat: 5 Things They Can Do To Win an NBA Title in Year 2
When LeBron James made the announcement that he was taking his talents to South Beach, it set off one of the biggest hate campaigns in recent sports memory. The Miami Heat were dubbed public enemy No. 1.
Before they even had a chance to play a game, the team endured constant criticism from the media, fans, current and even former NBA players.
Once the season began, things did not get off to a hot start and the Heat were a mediocre 12-8 after their first 20 games. They struggled to establish an identity or playing style to suit their talent.
The “Big Three” of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James managed to shake off the dismal start and led the Heat to a 58-win season. Miami would finish second in the Eastern Conference standings behind the Chicago Bulls.
Despite holding a 2-1 series lead, Miami did not win another game in the finals and eventually lost the series 4-2. The backlash against the team began immediately and rumors of trades and coaching changes began to circulate. Heat president Pat Riley said all key players and coach, Erik Spoelstra would return for the 2011 season.
Here are five things the Heat can do to bring a title to South Beach.
5. Keep the Big Three
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It would be ludicrous for Miami to even consider a deal for one of the Big Three, unless it somehow gives them a Big Four. However, I can imagine no such deal that makes that possible.
Bosh, Wade and James are good enough to win a championship.
Look at it this way: Wade and James give you two of the top five players in the world and with Bosh they have three of the top 20. Statistically, they all posted near their career averages except in points per game but with less touches, that was to be expected.
The bottom line is with these three leading the way, they were two wins away from becoming NBA champions. Another year together and they should be able to fully gel and close the deal.
4. Find an Inside Presence
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The Miami Heat struggled to find a post man they could count on in. Miami ranked 27th in offensive rebounds last season and primary big men Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Ilgauskas combined to averaged less than 10 points and 10 rebounds per game. If Miami hopes to win a title, that lack of production won’t cut it.
The Heat would be best served to trade one, if not both, of these men. In their place, Miami might be able to get a serviceable big man. Names like Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Nene or even a Brendan Haywood would make for better options at center.
Miami’s interior defense and offensive rebounding must improve if they plan on winning in June.
3. Trade Mario Chalmers
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Mario Chalmers is clearly not the answer for the Heat at point guard. At best, he is the third-best ball-handler on his own team behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Chalmers averaged less than 10 points per game in both the regular and postseason for the Heat. In three seasons, he’s averaged less than 10 points and five assists for Miami. Chalmers is currently a restricted free agent but the Heat would be best served by declining his option or trading him for a more productive young guard.
They could opt for a combo guard like Shannon Brown who could play either point or shooting guard with the second unit.
2. Sign a Veteran Leader
Miami’s Big Three is uber-talented but they are all under 30 and at times lack the composure and leadership needed to guide their team and close out games.
The Heat should look for a veteran player to provide a sense of balance and authority in their locker room. Mike Bibby was supposed to fill that void last season but failed to do so. Bibby did have 14 points in Game 2 of the Finals and might be worth hanging onto but the Heat need more help.
Grant Hill might be the perfect candidate to come in and add some veteran leadership to a team that seemed to fold in the clutch. At 38, he averaged 13 points per game for Phoenix last season and could give the Heat some quality minutes.
Hill might only have a year or two left to play but he’d be a welcomed addition to Miami’s roster.
1. Permanently Move LeBron James to Point Guard
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This is a bold option but one the Heat might want to seriously consider. LeBron James is a playmaker with the ability to score from anywhere on the court. He also possesses great court vision and is an excellent passer.
Wade and LeBron seemed unsure at times about what to do with the ball late in games. There were times when they both seemed to want the ball and then there were moments when neither seemed comfortable with the rock in their hands.
Coach Spoelstra should make the decision for them by moving LeBron to point guard permanently. At 6'8", James creates gigantic matchup problems for defenders. Guards are too small to defend him and forwards are too slow.
It may take time to develop him into a true point guard and to get him to buy into the idea. However, consider this: For his career, LeBron averages seven assists per game. In Cleveland and now in Miami, he does most of the late-game ball-handling anyway. A permanent move to the point would unquestionably make his teammates more effective on the offensive end and take some of the pressure off LeBron.
However, should Miami develop an offensive strategy that would allow them to move LeBron to the point full-time, would “King” James be receptive to a philosophy that would turn him into the second scoring option?
If they want to win a championship, this might be the move the Heat need to make.