Why Ray Allen's Impact on Heat Title Defense Is Being Drastically Overstated

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11:  Ray Allen talks with members of the media after signing with the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on July 11, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

You can't argue with the wisdom of adding a still-capable veteran with a championship pedigree and an uncanny long-range shooting ability.

But you can certainly argue with the notion that Ray Allen will make a significant impact on what was already a talented and relatively deep roster.

On the face of things, yes, he adds a dangerous three-point scorer to a rotation that didn't have many of them. You might be tempted to believe that he's the solution to Miami's one and only weakness, a defector turned savior.

Not quite so fast.

The Heat actually weren't a bad three-point shooting team last season. In fact, they ranked ninth in efficiency behind the arc, ahead of offensive juggernauts like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets.

The difference is that Miami just didn't take that many treys, ranking 23rd in the league with just 15.6 attempts per game.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra wanted his best scorers taking their best shots, and that meant taking shots closer to the rim, getting to the line and taking advantage of the starting five's exceptional athleticism and mid-range games. The formula worked—the Heat yielded the league's fourth-highest field-goal percentage and ranked eighth in free-throw attempts.

They took smart shots and they got to the line.

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Ray Allen may offer an added dimension to Spoelsta's offense, but it's not as if he'll be rectifying some deep-seated problem.

Though you won't sell anyone on the notion that Mike Miller is in any way, shape or form on Allen's level, the two marksmen's adjusted field-goal percentages were nearly identical. Thanks to his proficiency coming off screens and quick release, Allen will get more looks and make more of them.

But even then, how many plays do the Heat want to be running for Allen every night?

He's a fourth-option with the likes of Miller, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem not all that far behind him.

Unless Spoelstra is just planning to forbid half the team from touching the ball, chances are we'll see Allen take even fewer than the 10.7 shots he took last season. If that's what he put up for a Celtics team that had little to nothing on its bench, don't be surprised if he takes just eight or nine shots a game this season.

Sure, those shots will make a difference. The Heat will be better off for them.

Allen will help create space for slashers like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to do their damage in the paint, and the Heat will be better off for that too.

They just won't be that much better off.

They didn't have much room for improvement to begin with.

The ultimate test for Allen will be whether he defends consistently enough to remain on the floor for longer than 25 minutes a game. He played over 34 a game last season, but Boston had nothing even beginning to approximate Miami's depth on the wing.

Spoelstra's used to keeping superstars happy, but accommodating stars-turned-role-players could prove to be a different story. 

No, these aren't the deal-breaking kind of risks. They're just the kind that advise caution to especially hype-susceptible and hopeful ones of us.

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