According to Coach Spo, it’s all about “positionless basketball” down in Miami.
In: Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Josh Harrellson…rookie Jarvis Varnado…Mike Miller (the healthy version)
Out: Ronny Turiaf (LAC), Juwan Howard (still may return)…Mike Miller (the banged up version)…”positions”
“PG” Mario Chalmers Norris Cole, Terrel Harris
“SG” Dwyane Wade Ray Allen, Mike Miller
“SF” Lebron James Shane Battier, James Jones
“PF” Rashard Lewis Udonis Haslem, Jarvis Varnado, Mickell Gladness
“C” Chris Bosh Joel Anthony, Josh Harrellson, Dexter Pittman,
Offseason Recap: I don’t care what the new Collective Bargaining Agreement says, the rich still get richer in the NBA…and why not? Guys who’ve made millions in their careers will almost always take less $ to play for a contender.
Was there ever any doubt that Ray Allen would move to Miami this offseason? It was the hot rumor all of last season, one that he never really silenced. It’s the perfect acquisition for the Heat (props to Pat Riley…again). The signing of Rashard Lewis was a little bit more surprising, but he’s also a perfect fit. He’s the definition of “positionless”: a 6’10″ wiry guy who can hit the three and also rebound some. Stan Van Gundy still doesn’t know where to play him (remember when Turkoglu was the “PF” in Orlando?). I also think the addition of Josh Harrellson will be huge. He’s another guy who can spread the floor for the stars on this team…while completely mauling guys on defense at 6’10″, 275 lbs. The healthy (for now) return of Mike Miller is also a big plus for ‘Coach Spo’.
There was a lot of mending on South Beach this summer. Dwyane Wade missed the Olympics due to knee surgery, and will likely miss the entire preseason as well. Chris Bosh was advised by his doctors to just “chill” all summer. Ray Allen, too, needed ankle surgery after hobbling around the Conference Finals (vs. Miami). Even new ‘Heatle’ Rashard Lewis had to stay of his knee the past few months. I think Mike Miller just might be the healthiest of all of these guys. Lebron appears to have been the only active guy this summer. Between Team USA duties in London and training with Kevin Durant, he says he played more basketball than ever in his life. James, though, is confident his guys will bring it: “we have guys who wanna work.”
Strengths: This team is in a dead heat with the Lakers for most talent on an NBA roster in the last 30 years…seriously. The edge Miami may have on L.A. is that their talent is more interchangeable. They feature a Super Star ‘point forward’, a deadly SG, and a hybrid ‘bigman’ who likes to face-up…don’t forget the ubiquitous Rashard Lewis and the dependable Sixth Man Ray Allen. I haven’t even gotten around to the guys who were key to winning a ring last year: Shane Battier (defends any position), Mike Miller (hot-shooting swingman), & Udonis Haslem (little bigman who may just be the toughest guy in the league). Wow…..when you look at their roster it’s hard not to reach for your Playstation.
Weaknesses: The biggest concern for any coach (except Phil Jackson) is coming out of the gates slow. Well, that’s exactly what Erik Spoelstra is facing this season. Everyone but star Lebron James is recovering from something or other, and Dwyane Wade may not even be ready by opening night. It’s not that Miami can’t overcome a deficit in the standings, because they can (we saw this in 2010-11), but you don’t want to give confidence to teams that you handled last year. The game is as much mental as it is physical.
The weakness of this roster is still on the inside. Chris Bosh said himself that he’s no center, but will embrace starting “at the 5 spot.” Josh Harrellson has some beef but can he be trusted in big games? As for Joel Anthony, there’s a reason he was pulled from the starting lineup for the playoffs…..if only Udonis Haslem had the same diet from his college years at Florida (just playin’). Forget matching up with the Lakers (Dwight Howard), how is this team going to deal with the 76ers (Andrew Bynum) and Pacers (Roy Hibbert)? If Joakim Noah ever decided to look at the rim, the Bulls would destroy Miami inside. In the words of Timmy Hardaway, “we gone see.”
Prediction: ‘Coach Spo’ started Media Day 2012-13 the same way that he ended 2011-12…preaching “positionless basketball.” Well, what do you expect? The alternative last year was trying to win a championship with Joel Anthony in the starting lineup. Forget trying to fit guys into spots, just roll the ball out with your top guns and let them be themselves. Erik isn’t an innovator like Don Nelson or Phil Jackson, he’s just a realist. He has no other choice but to take the shackles off his stars. Let Lebron run the show, let Wade be aggressive when the rock comes his way, and give Bosh the space to play as the lone bigman (he is, after all, the biggest guy out there).
I still think the next level for ’Spo’ is to go with a big lineup, one without Chalmers or Cole at “the point”…..Lebron as the ballhandler with Wade at “SG” and Bosh at “C.” The other two spots will be some combination of Allen, Battier, Lewis, or Haslem. This group will be the epitome of position-less…..and also be terrifying.
The Miami Heat are a lock to get back to the NBA Finals in June. Paul Pierce said recently that he thinks Boston has all the right ingredients to win it all…I think he was accidentally looking at the Heat’s roster. The Pacers aren’t as deep as last year and neither are the Bulls, who also have to make it through February without Derrick Rose. Philadelphia is much better, but not that much…they’re not contenders just yet. As for the NY area fans, neither the Knicks or Nets are championship material. Nope, it’s clearly Miami in the East, and they’ll do it comfortably. Sure, they’ll look human in November (& maybe even December) but a New Year will mean new energy (and health) for ‘The Heatles.’ They’ll be looking west at the Lakers in the standings all season long….and it’ll be a historic race for top record overall. Unfortunately, I see the Heat falling to the Lakers in 6 games next June. For more detailed information, see my upcoming blog (teaser).