NBA Free Agents: 5 Reasons Eddy Curry Is a Perfect Fit for the Miami Heat
At first, the idea of bringing in Eddy Curry sounded a little too desperate as far as my perspective saw it. I knew the Miami Heat were struggling at the center position and anyone capable of moving their feet would help.
But bringing in Curry may only add to that problem since he's played 10 games since 2008 and is just coming off of a year where he was out of work and not one team gave him a workout.
That is until the Miami Heat gave him one in March, then another during the offseason. At the time of his first workout, Curry weighed in at a whopping 350 pounds and was nearing the point of obesity for a man who stood at 6'11". He would shed some weight upon his next workout, but it still wouldn't be enough for Pat Riley since he asked that Curry weigh below the 300-pound threshold before they could begin negotiating.
In August, Curry was reported to be 300 pounds, and we haven't heard from him since. If he did manage to keep up the pace with legendary trainer Tim Grover (the same guy who got Dwyane Wade back into shape after his injuries), Curry should be well below that threshold and should be brought in for another workout with the Heat before eventually signing at the veteran's minimum if he has managed to stay the course.
The fact that he has shed more than 50 pounds as an attempt to make it back into the league is enough to show me that Curry is committed. He's willing to own up to his mistakes in the past at the end of his tenure with the New York Knicks by shedding the weight he gained during his time there (and in his retirement) and attending several workouts with the only team to give him one in the Heat.
Curry's not going to be a savior, but he is going to directly address a number of the Heat's problems. Here are five reasons why he'll turn out to be the perfect fit for his potential new team.
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Unlike last off season when the Miami Heat were so frivolous with their money that they wrapped up $50 million amongst three players alone, the organization will have to be wary with how they spend their money.
No superstars or All-Stars will be joining the Heat this season—instead the current Heat roster will be joined by players who were either affordable or willing to take a drastic pay cut. One of those players who happens to be affordable is Eddy Curry, who has had two workouts with the Miami Heat since March and has seen little attention from the other 29 teams in the league.
With Curry just looking to make his way back into the NBA and out to prove that he's committed to the game and not eating himself off a roster, he's going to come extremely cheap. That means he'll most likely sign the veteran;s minimum and take up a little more than $1 million per season and not much else.
It's important the Heat are savvy with their money this offseason since they have a number of issues to address, including consistency off the bench, perimeter threats and a backup point guard to go along with the already-prevalent need of a center.
It's a win-win situation no matter how this experiment pans out. If Curry doesn't work out, then it's a couple million lost and a lesson learned.
However, if Curry does get back into shape and can contribute upwards of 10 points and eight rebounds per, then the Heat will come out on top of this with a center who can consistently man the fort without any trouble, as well as possessing a quality center for possibly the next five seasons.
It's going to take time for Curry to get NBA-ready, so don't be alarmed if he appears sluggish and out of it for the first couple weeks if he doesn't end up in Miami. Playing a regulation basketball game takes a lot of endurance and conditioning, and someone like Curry who's only a few months removed from weighing 350 pounds may have some trouble at the start.
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If there's anything Eddy Curry will end up providing to the Heat, it will be size—and a lot of it.
Curry has always been a wide individual even when he first entered the league straight out of Thornwood High School as a 19-year-old. He's currently listed at 7'0" and 295 pounds, which may actually continue to drop since word is that he was only at 300 pounds upon his trainer's last report in August. Considering that he was previously at 350 pounds by the time he was out of the NBA, it will be a miracle if Curry can join the Miami Heat and actually make his way up and down the court.
Currently, the Heat are lacking in the size department with second year center Dexter Pittman being the only remnants of what was left of the centers that used to be on this roster. With the only other larger centers in Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire most likely on the way out, a player of Curry's size would be a huge asset to a Heat team that desperately needs the size in the middle to deter opponents from driving into the lane at will.
For the Heat, something as simple as finding someone who's large enough to fill up the middle is all they need when it comes to a center. Dampier and Magloire might not have worked out because of their age and wear and tear, but Curry will be joining the team as a 29-year-old who's on a mission to work his way back to the NBA and make a statement to those who doubted him.
The team is currently stacked with perimeter defenders Dwyane Wade and LeBron James leading the way, and they need a player of Curry's size to hold it down in the middle and make opponents think twice before entering the lane. Joel Anthony certainly wasn't doing that as a 6'9" center, and no one else on the current roster can do so until the Heat either sign Curry or whenever the team deems Pittman to be NBA-ready.
Offensive Skill Set
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Finding a center who can consistently score and contribute upwards of 15 points per game is one of the most difficult traits you could possibly find in the NBA today. The center position today has become a joke when compared to the myriad of Hall of Fame centers who inhabited the NBA in the 1990s, as we no longer see anything remotely close to a post move or a mid-range jump shot.
Dwight Howard is the league's current top scoring center after averaging 22 points per game last season, with shooter Andrea Bargnani dropping 21 and Brook Lopez scoring 20 per game. These are the only three centers in the NBA to average better than 20 points per game, and only two of them actually remain loyal to the traditional way of playing the five with Bargs preferring to score the majority of his points from the perimeter.
I'm not going to say Eddy Curry will average 20 points per game because those days are far behind him and will never return, especially if he joins the Heat where shots are already difficult to come by.
What I'm attempting to convey is that Curry actually contained a quality offensive skill set before finding himself without a job. He was averaging nearly 20 points per game on 58 percent shooting in 2007 and actually managed to lead the league in shooting percentage his second year in the league when he shot 59 percent.
Curry isn't a perimeter player like most centers are today; he's traditional, will bang in the post with other big bodies and find the highest percentage shot possible before taking his shot. His mid-range game is limited beyond 10 feet, but his size allows him to dominate in the post, and it's resulted in the big man averaging at least 13 points for five consecutive seasons with only one time during his career where he shot less than 50 percent.
The Miami Heat aren't asking for much in terms of offense from anyone outside the Big Three. All the team is asking for is a center who can consistently hit a mid-range shot from time to time, know how to catch a ball and then quickly finish, which is actually a lot more difficult than it sounds.
The fact that Curry actually knows how to score on his own is an asset that the Heat will be extremely grateful for as well.
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What drives the offense on this team is not only the dynamic slashing abilities of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, plus the consistent mid-range jumper of Chris Bosh. The many role-players who surround these three find themselves getting open on many shot opportunities.
Aside from being three of the league's most prolific scorers, these three also do a lot more on offense that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Much like how Shaquille O'Neal would draw double and triple-teams, James, Wade and Bosh can all warrant a double-team if they're in the flow and rhythm of the game. While Bosh can be limited one-on-one, limiting Wade and James is extremely difficult for one defender to handle, and it usually results in needing a help defender.
Thus, a player finds himself open.
It's pretty simple. Say Dwyane Wade is driving to the rim and he eludes his first defender, a second defender is going to have to leave his assignment so he can deter Wade. With Wade having excellent court vision, he'll find the open teammate and allow him to take a shot with no resistance because of the defender having to help on him.
Last year, the Big Three were forced to deal with inconsistent players who couldn't take advantage of these opportunities. The myriad of point guards—whether it was Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers, Eddie House or Mike Bibby—couldn't consistently hit their jump shots, and every last center would rarely connect on their close-range shots. In fact, having a center such as Joel Anthony on the court only made the offense worse since defenses would actually ignore him and spend more time keeping their focus on a member of the Big Three with no consequences because of it.
With Curry on the team, that becomes a thing of the past. Curry will have to get to the level of being NBA-ready for a few weeks, of course, but don't think this isn't the player who once almost averaged 20 points per game in 2007. He's lighter than ever and hasn't forgotten to play the game, which means open opportunities for Curry will most likely end up in an easy two points rather than an embarrassing miss.
It can also work the other way too.
If Curry is actually performing well on offense, his defender will have to stick on him, which means members of the Big Three will be able to work on offense with only their assignment guarding them. It levels out the playing field for the Heat and puts another scorer on the floor as opposed to just a body—which is what they were essentially attempting last year when placing stiffs like Dampier or Magloire on the floor.
Another Motivated Individual
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I didn't believe this team needed any more motivation than they already had from the incessant talk of critics, analysts and anyone with a mouth and a thought, but it turns out the Miami Heat just may receive yet another player who is motivated to prove his doubters wrong.
Unlike LeBron James who's out to prove he can win a championship and deliver when the pressure is on the line, Curry will be on the floor proving he's a capable and stable enough player to make an NBA comeback and remain relevant until his retirement.
Curry realizes as much as anyone else does that he let down the New York Knicks' franchise by letting himself go, and the chances are high that he wants to return to the NBA and show his doubters that he can consistently contribute without getting into trouble off the court or showing up to training camp out of shape.
If Curry is committed enough to drop more than 50 pounds and then some in order to make his way back into the league, as well as willing enough to attend two workouts with the Miami Heat, then it's easy to say that he's out to make a statement with his return. He wants to win games and he wants to help the Heat or whatever team that gives him a chance achieve their ultimate goal at the end of the season. Having Curry on this team just adds one more individual who's playing with a purpose and out to prove to himself that he's capable of making the improbable happen.
On a team loaded with players who have championship dreams and are looking to make their statement, Curry has shown he can complement this team very well in terms of the overall mentality. Every last person in this organization has one thing on their mind and that's a championship at the end of the season. We should expect Curry to catch on quickly, considering he's already on a mission to work his way back to the NBA.