Predicting What the Miami Heat's Roster Will Look Like at Season's End
With the trade deadline creeping up on us (two weeks away), I think it's time we take a strong look at the Miami Heat's roster and see if anything needs to be changed.
It certainly isn't as bad as last year's.
The Heat were attempting to escape the Cleveland Cavaliers mentality of playing, but LeBron James had just as bad a roster last year than he did in his years with Cleveland. He might have had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh by his side, but he also happened to have a bunch of role players that were inferior to Mo Williams and Anthony Parker around him.
Miami doesn't have that problem anymore. They got two players back from injury, acquired a solid veteran and picked up a quick young guard in the draft. With their starting guard becoming a knockdown three-point shooter and their 6'9" center shutting down the paint, the Heat don't have much to worry about over the next two weeks.
However, we'll take a look anyway and see if this team does have any moves to make.
The Starting Lineup
When you look back, the 2010-'11 season for the Miami Heat was one hilarious joke after another.
You had talk of LeBron James intentionally bumping into Erik Spoelstra, why the team should trade away Chris Bosh two weeks into the season, how James and Dwyane Wade couldn't coexist and the always popular idea of coach Spoelstra being fired.
This joke lasted all season long, then stopped for the first few weeks of the playoffs and then came back around once the Heat lost in the NBA Finals. That's where things really started to get out of control. For some strange reason, the idea of a trade involving LeBron James for Dwight Howard was brought up as if it was possible in anyway.
This is what happens when you're losing. You give the media something to talk about because it's a lot easier and more entertaining to talk about why a team is losing as opposed to why a team is winning. Nobody wants to hear about a team's success, they want to know why a team is losing and how something as absurd as losing a regular season game is possible.
Now that the Heat are 27-7, we don't have to hear that nonsense anymore. The team is winning and the media is dealing with other subjects.
One of the key reasons behind the Heat's tremendous start to the season has been the starting lineup. The two, three and four are all occupied by the same players, but this time Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony seem to have permanent spots at the one and five respectively. Last year, Chalmers was benched in favor of Carlos Arroyo and Mike Bibby while Anthony saw the center position preoccupied by the likes of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire.
Not this year. Chalmers and Anthony have started every game that they've been healthy for and the team has played excellent. Not only do you have the big three coexisting and emitting plenty of chemistry, you also have Chalmers suddenly becoming one of the league's deadliest three-point shooters and Joel reaffirming himself as a feared shot blocker that can shut down the paint.
The Miami Heat got two healthy players back, acquired one, and drafted another, and they're suddenly recognized as one of the deepest teams in the league with one of the most versatile benches.
How on earth did this happen?
It's simple really. The Heat waited for Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller to come back from injuries, made their big splash of the offseason by signing a wily veteran that specializes on defense in Shane Battier, and drafted a pure scoring point guard in Norris Cole that can help switch up the look of the offense.
These four players have been the guys that the Heat have been relying on once James, Wade or Bosh hit the bench. No longer do you see guys like James Jones or Juwan Howard on the floor since the team is no longer desperate enough to play them. I know we're disappointed to not see Jones playing anymore, but it doesn't sting as much when you realize that the Heat are first in the league in three-point percentage.
The Heat shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc can be attributed to the revival of Chalmers as well as Miller and Battier coming into their own. Miller is shooting 52 percent from the land of three, while Battier has recovered from an ugly start to shoot 36 percent from deep. He has made at least one three-pointer in eight of the past nine games.
Haslem also been a huge addition to a team without a pure center to rely on. Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman aren't playing as well as the Heat anticipated, which has led Haslem to playing extended minutes at center. He's been doing a quality job at it too when you consider he's leading the team in rebounds per game in only 26 minutes worth of action a night.
Udonis' physicality allows him to be recognized as a stand-out defender in the post. He isn't the most athletic, but he's not afraid to bang down low and isn't going to back down from a competition.
The Heat may have started out well winning 27 of their first 34 games, but there are still plenty of flaws that are apparent.
It's not like this team is perfect. After all, they did lose seven games even though a few of those losses came because they couldn't hit free throws and sometimes regressed to a jump shooting team in the fourth quarter. For the most part, however, this team has been solid and not many weaknesses have been exposed.
We'll just say that a lot of weaknesses were covered over the offseason. The Heat now have suitable help at the point guard position, some quality three-point shooters that can also defend, and they got themselves a great defender to come off the bench. It's not a world-class bench, but it's enough for this Heat team to get where they need to go.
The Heat don't have many problems, but they do have a huge one down low. Yes, Joel Anthony has been outstanding and can completely shut down the paint when he's on a good day, but you have to think that he can't do this every night especially in the postseason when the Heat will probably face a few teams with big frontcourts.
Size is going to play a huge factor in the playoffs. The New York Knicks have Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, the Chicago Bulls have Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik, and the Orlando Magic have Dwight Howard.
The Heat have proven that they are up to the task of defending these teams since they've beat all three of these teams already, but you have to be worried that the big men on opposing teams will eventually take advantage of Miami's shortcomings.
Miami is fast enough to keep tabs on the perimeter and the paint, but you can't have members of the big three wasting a lot of energy attempting to guard the back and frontcourt.
The team didn't obtain a big over the offseason and while Eddy Curry is a nice idea, he's still not even close to NBA ready. That means the Heat will most likely have to rely on the likes of Anthony, Bosh, Haslem and Dexter Pittman for size in the middle.
It's for reasons like that why you see them actually attempting to pursue a guy like Chris Kaman.
Former Los Angeles Clippers and current New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman has been highly coveted by Pat Riley since he was drafted in 2003. With the Hornets showing no intention of keeping him for the long run, the Heat have announced that they would like to pursue and possibly sign the 7' footer.
Of course, there's a huge roadblock here: Money. Kaman's getting paid $14 million this year and even if he is bought out, you have to imagine that he could be making $8 million per year on any other team looking for a center. The Heat can't offer much more than $2 million per season and that might not fly with a guy who could be making at least four times that much anywhere else.
Does Anything Need to Be Changed?
If the Heat were able to obtain Chris Kaman by some divine miracle, they're not going to lose a game for the rest of the season because they would have addressed their biggest need with a former All-Star who can go off for 20 and 10 any night if he's healthy.
Luckily for the NBA, it's not going to happen. There is no chance that Kaman comes to the Heat. Miami isn't going to make a trade. They don't have very much money left and Kaman isn't going to take that significant of a pay cut when he can easily make at least $8 million somewhere else. Even if the Heat give him an immediate start, there are plenty of other teams that can offer the same.
Even a guaranteed championship wouldn't do it. This league does have to be somewhat competitive and I don't see the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets allowing Kaman to walk and head on over to the Heat.
The fact is that the Heat don't need Kaman. It sure would be nice to have him for a center, but the Heat don't need another scoring threat and they don't need another All-Star. They have a great thing going with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh running this team and there's no need to throw in another player who might disrupt the rhythm and flow of the offense.
Every team is going have a flaw and for the Heat it's at the center position. Sure they'd love to have someone who can come in and grab boards and play some strong defense against the NBA's top centers, but they make up for it with so much else. I strongly believe that the combined efforts of Wade, James and Bosh can make up for the lack of a pure center.
Not to mention that this team now has a supporting cast. With guys like Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem making their shots, the big three have plenty more time to rest and can take a step back on offense to allow the role players to do some work. This isn't like last year when each member of the big three had to play 40 minutes just to secure a win, they have players who can help on both sides of the ball.
The old saying goes: If it isn't broke, don't fix it. The Heat aren't broken so there's nothing to fix. Chemistry is at an all-time high and this team is only getting better, so why change anything? The Heat will survive without a center as long as role players hit their shots, the team plays defense, and the big three come up big when they're supposed to.
How will this roster look at the end of the season? Go ahead and take a look at the current roster and you'll see.