Should Miami Heat Give Ray Allen a Bigger Role?

Kyle Ramos@Kyle_RamosCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2013

Nov. 17, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Miami Heat guard Ray Allen (34) stands on the court during the game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Heat defeated the Suns 97-88. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

There's not much to complain about for a team like the Miami Heat, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference and look poised to continue their dominance in defending their NBA championship.

After winning their second championship in franchise history, the Heat were not afraid of making tweaks to the roster or adding pieces in the offseason. In one of the more surprising moves in free agency, Miami convinced veteran sharpshooter and the NBA's all-time leading three-point scorer Ray Allen to step away from the Boston Celtics and come to South Beach, an archrival.

This addition was seen as a huge move to improve the Heat's bench, making them seem even stronger than before. There was plenty of speculation concerning how well Allen would fit into his first ever bench role, but that has been answered by him and the Heat with their 22-8 record (through January 2) and his solid stats.

Allen is averaging 11.4 points per game in his 25.8 minutes per game and is also shooting a career-high 45 percent from beyond the arc. While 25 minutes off the bench is still a good chunk of time on the court, Allen's great shooting this year has to raise the question of whether he deserves a larger part in the Heat's game plan.

This isn't a call for Allen to start over Dwyane Wade, or for the Heat to divert their offense to form around Allen, but I do believe that given the attention LeBron James and Wade receive on offense, having someone like Allen taking more shots could be beneficial for the team.

One thing Ray Allen has become a consummate professional at is moving without the ball and being able to come off of screens to catch and shoot at a high clip. This would come in handy for an offense where Wade, James and Mario Chalmers act as the primary ball-handlers, giving Allen plenty of chances to move freely.

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With the threat of Chalmers shooting, and Wade's and James' instinct to drive and finish around the rim, there would be plenty of opportunities opening up for Allen to find himself with a little-to-not contested shot.

This all sounds good in theory, but there's also the theory of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and the Heat's current offense (fourth in the league in PPG) is far from broken.

Having an increased role for Allen would also mean that there would be less touches for the primary scorers (Wade, James and Chris Bosh), three guys who carried the Heat all the way to the finish line last season.

As it stands right now, it would be best for Miami and head coach Erik Spoelstra to tweak as little as possible, since choosing to do anything too drastic right now would risk the offense sputtering a bit, and could even result in some losses.

I'm not saying that Allen isn't capable of doing bigger things in this offense, but as of right now, his role as a spot-up shooter/role player off the bench is fitting into the Heat's offensive scheme nicely. 

His shooting percentages have even increased this year since he has had more limited playing time, allowing him to keep his energy up without being on the court playing starter's minutes. Stamina is especially a factor for a guy like Allen, who is 37 years old with 16 seasons worth of mileage already on his legs.

The mental aspect of whether or not Allen is really liking his bench role after being a starter for basically his entire career is something that we can't truly figure out unless he explicitly states his displeasure to the media.

Even if he wanted more touches or playing time, I'm sure his desires have been quelled thanks to the winning culture in Miami and the increasing likelihood of adding one more championship ring to his resume.

Overall, it's safe to say that the Heat are doing just fine offensively with how their rotations are and how their plays are drawn up. Adding more Ray Allen to the mix is something that could prove to be lucrative, but the risk outweighs the reward, and for that reason, I think Spoelstra and the Heat will opt to keep things the way they currently stand as they continue their defense as NBA champions.


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