Miami Heat: Grading Every Position Heading into Training Camp
Time flies when you're having fun, and now we find ourselves right around the corner from NBA training camps starting across the nation.
Despite the noise made around the league in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and even Boston, it only makes sense to deal with the defending champs first and foremost.
The Miami Heat look better on paper, but it's time to put those new pieces to the test and begin building new chemistry with one another.
Therefore, it's time to take a look at each position heading into the Miami Heat training camp. Where do their weaknesses lie? On a team with multiple strengths, what is their strongest? Simple questions that you may be surprised to find the answers to, but don't worry, I'll explain.
The point guard battle between Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers will continue to persist this year.
Needless to say, it has clearly been established that Chalmers is the Heat's starting point guard. However, Cole stepped in as a rookie and unexpectedly produced far beyond what anyone predicted.
Now, the Heat have somewhat of a dilemma on their hands. It seems as though Cole has the potential to be a better player than Chalmers down the road. Both posses the confidence needed to play in the spotlight alongside Miami's Big 3, but it's not likely that the Heat will be able to retain both players after this season.
For now, this is a good problem for Spoelstra and company to deal with. Despite the fact that the Heat may indeed opt to go with a point guard-less lineup, they have two solid young guns who can step in, handle the ball and knock down big shots when their number is called.
Sure, Miami's roster may not include an All-Star caliber point guard like Steve Nash, Russel Westbrook or Chris Paul, but what they do have is multiple guys who can step in and provide the little production necessary from their position.
They aren't the best, but they are far from the worst, and the depth Cole has come to provide will prove to be quite beneficial for the Heat.
This is one of the Heat's stronger positions—if not the strongest—due to the depth and different things each guy can bring.
Starting, of course, will be Dwyane Wade. He is still one of the premier players in the league and is due for a breakout year—if he can stay healthy.
The key to this position for the Heat is definitely the guys backing Wade and providing him consistent blows.
With the acquisition of Ray Allen and the probability of a healthy Mike Miller, the Heat have multiple shooters who can come off the bench and get hot.
The only negative about this position for the Heat is the lack of defensive intensity, aside from Wade. Allen nor Miller will be too successful when it comes to guarding the league's elite scorers.
Nevertheless, with Wade getting the bulk of the important minutes, the Heat are in good shape.
LeBron James. When you hear that name and are looking for a grade, it's usually an A plus, plus that follows.
However, in Miami, even the guys backing up arguably the best player in the league could step in and be starters elsewhere.
Shane Battier proved his worth often with the Heat last year, hitting big shot after big shot and playing stellar defense. The thing about Battier is—not only does he do all the little things that make for the perfect role player, but he's also versatile, able to play three different positions.
Fans understand that he is important, but I'm not sure they completely comprehend just how important he truly is. He must continue to have a big impact with the Heat if they want to contend for another title this year.
James Jones is another guy on the Heat's roster who won't see much court time, but he cannot be forgotten. Serving many years as Reggie Miller's protege, Jones is a streaky shooter who defenses can't afford to leave open. Just another weapon at Spoelstra's disposal.
This position has a lot of question marks for the Miami Heat. We still do not know if they will continue to play small-ball with Bosh at the 5, or attempt to move him back to the 4 and pair him alongside a big body.
For the time being, let's just assume the Heat do indeed continue to play small. This would again shift Battier back to the 4, and that makes the acquisition of Rashard Lewis more key than ever.
Lewis has the exact tool set that Pat Riley loves. He's got the size, the touch, the finesse and the jump shot, but he's still missing one very important thing: power.
If—and that's a big if—Lewis can develop any kind of toughness, he could easily overtake the starting power forward position for the Heat.
During training camp, it will be very important for Lewis to show what he can do. Lewis and Udonis Haslem have the potential to be quite the formidable one-two punch for the Heat at the power forward position. But let's not forget, even Haslem found himself struggling last year.
This position is still very much so up in the air, so the grade can't be too high. However, room for improvement is through the roof.
Like I stated before, we are assuming Bosh will start as the Heat's center once again this year.
Bosh may not the biggest guy in the league, but he's without a doubt one of the most talented bigs the NBA has today.
He can do it all, and his worth shone bright throughout the entire playoffs.
However, Bosh can't play the whole game, and the Heat need to find a decent backup center sooner rather than later. Especially with the way the East is looking today, considering the influx of talented big men.
The Heat don't have much to choose from, and this is where their ultimate downfall might quite possibly lay. Keep an eye on training camp in Miami, because I can assure you Spoelstra and company are on the lookout for that big man who steps up and proves himself ready to step into the rotation of a team looking to contend once again.
As for now, due to the lack of depth at this position...
Grade: B (because Bosh is just that good)