This NBA season has started in earnest and it looks like the Miami Heat will actually show up for some of it. After last year's injury-plagued disaster, the Heat have landed back on their feet.
In this first edition of So Far, So Good...I will examine some of the positive aspects of the Heat's season thus far. Also, I will look at some major concerns the Heat will have to overcome if rookie coach Erik Spoelstra hopes to make any kind of serious headway into the Southeast Division.
1. Dwayne Wade
So Far, Dwyane Wade has been nothing less than stellar. Coming off of his gold medal in Beijing, D-Wade has carried this Miami team. He's averaging a little over 27 points a game, and is practically winning the Heat's games all by himself. This consistent offense combined with his new found defensive prowess has been the heart and soul of Miami, and the biggest reason why they are still competing in the Southeast.
So Good...Just as the Heat have started the year, so they must end it. For Miami to remain in any sort of contention, Wade must continue to lead. First and foremost, he must remain healthy. Any prolonged absence might as well be fatal for the franchise. He must also continue to score as he has been. Most importantly, he has to help the development of his rookie starters.
2. The Rookies
So far, with not one, but two starting rookies on the floor, coach Spoelstra is trusting the future to a pair of talented, but young and untested stars. Despite their lack of experience, both Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers have shown a great deal of their promise. Beasley currently ranks third among rookies in scoring with 15.4 points per game. Chalmers trails only behind Wade for most assists on the team.
So Good...If the Heat hope to go deep, these rookie have to step up their learning curve. Even though Chalmers is the starting point guard, much of the ball handling down the court is carried out by Wade. Chalmers must improve in this department and quickly in order to take some of the pressure off Wade. As for the other rookie, Beasley must drive to the basket more. Beasley has fantastic ball handling skills, but he shows a reluctance to drive to the hole. More times than not, he opts for a quick jumper. This meekness down low in conjunction with a low field goal percentage is hampering his scoring potential. He must show more aggression to establish a presence down low.
3. Power Down Below
So far, while not a normal center, Udonis Haslem has adapted to the position well. While not as big as the Heat might like him to be, he has made up for it in pure effort. With pure will, Haslem has scratched out 12.9 points per game and 8.7 rebounds. Even so, he has suffered at the hands of some of the game's true big men. In the end, Haslem will be outclassed whenever other teams can challenge him.
So Good...This seems like the one great problem that the Heat will not be able to overcome through effort or experience. The fact of the matter is simply the Heat need a bigger body in the middle. They will either have to go out and get a proper center or hope one of their own can fill the void. There is still the off-chance of an Alonzo Mourning return. But at this point, I would say there is as much a chance of that happening as there is a chance Mark Cuban is not guilty of insider trading.
In the end, the Heat have a long road ahead of them. Even so, continued solid play and some wise acquisitions may yet land them in the playoffs and return to form.
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