One Critical Adjustment Each Miami Heat Player Must Make in 2012-13
There is no in-between in today's NBA. You either get better, or you get worse.
In order for the Miami Heat to successfully defend their NBA championship, it's going to take a collective effort.
From LeBron James to James Jones, everyone on the Miami Heat roster must make an adjustment.
Individually for the Heat, there are facets of each player's game that can be improved to better fit the overall mission.
They will need to make those adjustments, as the other teams in the NBA prepare to give the defending champs their best shot every single time they step on the court.
At least 80 percent of Ray Allen's field-goal attempts must come from three-point range this season.
There's room in the Miami Heat offense for Allen to take around 10 shots per game. He gives his new team the best chance to win by taking eight of those shots from behind the arc.
Allen has been trending upward in three-point field-goal percentage during each of his last two seasons in Boston. He hit for a career high of 44.4 percent in 2010-11 only to improve to 45.3 last season.
This year, he figures to have the opportunity to attempt more wide open three-point shots than ever. He needs to shift his offensive game almost exclusively behind the arc in order to increase the number of three-point shots he's able to take.
If he shoots them, they'll go in. He's Ray Allen.
Defense, rebound, get out of the way.
Joel Anthony can continue to add value by not trying to do any more than that this season.
Now more than ever, with Andrew Bynum posting up in the Eastern Conference, every ounce of energy Joel Anthony spends on the court needs to be expended defending the basket, especially if Miami ends up squaring off with Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Anthony needs to find ways to make defensive stops he's not expected to make this season. Also, given the Heat's depth, there's no reason he should save any fouls.
Shane Battier only shot 38 percent from the floor during the 2011-12 regular season. That was his lowest shooting percentage in 11 years. He needs to get that number at least over 40 percent this season.
He averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds during the regular season and 7 points and 3.3 rebounds in the playoffs, when he hit several crucial shots. And all season, he served as a stabilizing force in the Miami locker room.
But he needs to be more efficient this season.
This regular season, he's not expected to get as many as 33 minutes a game, which is what he averaged during the playoffs. To help the Heat, he needs to find a way to score seven points in only about 25 minutes a game.
Without asking Chris Bosh to be something he's not, the third member of Miami's Big Three needs to increase his scoring production in the lane.
He can get those additional baskets in multiple ways.
Bosh has the ability to put the ball on the deck and beat his man to the basket from 10- to 12-feet out. He needs to do that. With LeBron James playing more minutes at power forward, he also needs to capitalize on scoring opportunities at the rim that LeBron will create for him.
During his last four seasons in Toronto, Chris Bosh attempted 5.4 shots per game at the rim. Two years ago, in his first season in Miami, that number fell to 3.5. Last season, it increased to 4.5, according to ESPN's Hoopdata.
That upward trend must continue. Bosh connected on better than 66 percent of his shots at the rim last year. He simply needs to take more of them.
The turnovers must come down for Mario Chalmers.
He has hit big shots for the Heat. But this season, with LeBron moving his game closer to the basket, Chalmers needs to improve his ability as a traditional point guard.
He averaged a career high 2.2 turnovers last season. That number was almost twice as many as he averaged the year before.
That area of his game has to improve if Chalmers is going to take the next step in his evolution as a point guard. If he takes care of the ball, the shots he's able to hit are simply a bonus.
The Cleveland State product doesn't need to cut his hair. That much is solid, along with his play last season as a late first-round pick.
Cole looked special at times, but also had stretches where he looked like a rookie. He needs to be more consistent.
And then there is his three-point shooting. Hitting just better than 27 percent isn't going to get it done, not with the open looks that LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade give role players like Cole.
He needs to get that number to an at least respectable 30 percent. If he does that, he'll be even more of a threat attacking the basket.
Josh Harrellson was an above average role-playing big man at Kentucky. In 37 games with the Knicks last season, he showed the potential to be a quality role-playing big man in the NBA.
This season, he needs to increase that sample size.
He averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game last year in New York. If he can simply increase that rebounding number, any points he scores will be a bonus.
Harrellson's target should try to average more than five rebounds in 15 minutes per game. If he can give the Heat that type of rebounding off the bench, it doesn't even matter if he scores.
There's plenty of other guys who can do that.
After not being drafted out of college in 2009, Harris did enough to make it into the NBA last season. His numbers weren't particularly impressive, 22 games at 3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per night, but they were enough to keep him in Miami for another season.
Harris will need to adjust his game to carve out a solid role for himself. He needs to find one thing he does well.
If he can be a specialist, he'll help Miami improve. He only shot 35 percent from the floor, 20 percent from three-point range and 66 percent from the free-throw line, so he might want to keep that focus on the defensive end.
Entering his 10th NBA season, the Miami Heat need Udonis Haslem to rebound at, or above, his career average of eight per game.
This past season he was just under that number at 7.3. It was the lowest rebounding total for Haslem since he averaged 6.3 as a rookie in 2003-04.
The six points he averaged last season was the lowest total of his career as well, but that doesn't matter as much. Haslem will need to anchor a group of role-playing big men by setting the tone on the glass.
He will be the Heat's best traditional big man from a defense and rebounding standpoint, and he needs to rebound at a level he's been capable of throughout his career.
Tough to suggest that a guy who went wire-to-wire as the NBA's Most Valuable Player needs to make an adjustment.
But if James can increase his production in the lane, scoring from the power forward position, the Heat will be better than they were last season.
James shot 69 percent last season on attempts nine feet and in, according ESPN's Hoopdata. He simply needs to take more of those shots. He can with a renewed commitment to the power forward position.
James would also do well to continue his downward trend in three-point attempts over the last two seasons. He doesn't need to take as many as the 5.6 shots per game he took from the 16-23 feet range last season, either.
He's too deadly from inside the painted area not to create more of those opportunities.
James Jones should only shoot three-pointers this season.
He shot better than 40 percent from three in each of his last three seasons in Miami. Meanwhile, Jones shot only 38 percent on two-point attempts.
There's no reason for Jones to be taking any two-point field goals this season. He makes Miami better when he's able to stretch the floor and space defenses with his ability to connect from long range.
This isn't a revelation.
It's also the only thing Jones needs to do this to most help Miami off the bench.
Is it too much to ask Rashard Lewis to become the player he was in 2007 when he averaged more than 20 points per game for the third straight season?
Yes, it is.
Okay, well how about Lewis figures out a way to keep himself healthy for 85 percent of this season. That alone would make his acquisition this summer worthwhile for the Heat.
Regardless of his statistical production over the last handful of years, Lewis is still a career 16-point, five-rebound per game guy. To a certain extent, defenses have to respect him on reputation alone.
He's also almost shot 40 percent from three-point range in his 14 NBA seasons. That's a big number as well.
If Lewis can play 70 games, he has the potential to be the Heat's most valuable role player.
Mike Miller needs to do better than 40 percent from the free-throw line this season.
I kid, he only shot five last year, so it's not that important.
Like Ray Allen and James Jones, though, Miller needs to adjust his game to focus even more on his ability to shoot the three-pointer.
Miller shot it at better than a 45 percent clip last season in 19 minutes per night, which was solid production for the 39 games he was healthy enough to play. That's pretty much what the Heat need from him again.
He doesn't need to do anything else.
Defend the basket, young man. That's how you'll see the floor and help this team.
Dexter Pittman has six fouls per game and he needs to use every one of those, even if he only plays nine minutes per game this season like he did last year.
Miami doesn't need Pittman to score. At all. But he adds value when he's able to bang around with the opposing big men, grab a couple rebounds and make people work offensively.
Don't be worried about fouling out, Dexter.
Just make sure you're all the way healthy before you come back, Dwyane Wade.
Then be Dwyane Wade.
Assuming LeBron James spends more time in the lane this season, the perimeter should open up more for Wade to attack the basket.
As a result, he should become more comfortable than he was offensively last season, especially if he's healthy.
Wade can return to being a top-5 NBA player if he's healthy enough.
He wasn't anywhere near that level last season and the Heat still won an NBA title. But he is not done yet, not by a long shot.
The only other thing I'd suggest is that maybe he tell coach Eric Spoelstra that those glasses don't work for him as well as they do for everybody else.