Wednesday, August 25, 2010

2010-2011 Miami Heat

The Miami Heat have signed a contract with ESPN, TNT, and ABC to have 217 of their regular season games broadcasted each year for the next 7 years. That headline must've slipped under the cracks of Coach K cutting Rajon Rondo from Team USA. Jerk. Regardless, I think it's pretty safe to say that everyone's eyes are on the Heat from here on out until Amare, Carmelo, and CP3 team up for the Knicks in 2011. Then everyone's gonna have to practice that independent eyeball control thing so they watch both teams at the same time. I sure can't do it yet.

2010-2011 Miami Heat

Point Guard: Mario Chalmers/Carlos Arroyo
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade/Eddie House
Small Forward: LeBron James/Mike Miller/James Jones
Power Forward: Chris Bosh/Udonis Haslem/Juwan Howard
Center: Joel Anthony/Zydrunas Ilgauskas/Jamaal Magloire

I hate to admit it, but the Heat were able to put some perfect pieces around their Big 3 with some professional Pat Riley cap space wiggling. Though they did miss out on a point guard upgrade (any old, unselfish veteran [a la Gary Payton] would've been sufficient), I can still see how they don't technically need an all-league offense initiator; you only need one of either James or Wade on the floor for that issue to be remedied. The shooters they compiled are almost unfair. House, Jones, and Miller have knocked in threes at clips of 39%, 39.5%, and 40.5% respectively over their careers. They're all threats to drop five or six long range bombs in any given game, just for shiggles.

While they do have size with a frontline-by-committee, the impact of the players behind Bosh and Haslem may be a slight issue. Joel Anthony has proved absolutely nothing in three years of NBA experience. He occasionally blocks shots; that's it. While compiling heady veterans such as Juwan Howard, Big Z, and Jamaal Magloire is never a bad thing in and of itself, none of those guys have been on-court forces in years. They've got a stock of big bodies, for sure, but you don't actually want to be in a position of having any of them on the floor for extended time. Unless Z gets a late career rejuvenation or Joel actually learns a certifiable basketball skill, the front court is more or less gonna develop into Bosh/Haslem or bust.

Now with the big deal. LeBron and D-Wade on the wing together. No one knows how it's gonna work. The '08 Redeem Team showed no real preview of this because the shot allotment needed for Kobe and Melo distorted any honest chance of an LBJ-Wade two-man game showcase. Having two of the top three perimeter scorers in the league on the same team for 82 games is unprecedented. No one's had to make that level of and individual sacrifice before with someone filling the same floor space as them. The majority of all-time tandems were either big/little (like Russell/Cousy, Moses/Dr. J, Kareem/Magic, Malone/Stockton, Shaq/Kobe) or alpha/subordinate combos in the same front or back court (like West/Goodrich, Frazier/Monroe, Bird/McHale, Isiah/Dumars, Jordan/Pippen). Unless Bron-Bron or Dwyane have a secret meeting to thumb-wrestle and decide who's gonna be the distinct first option, then we have a brand new monster on our hands. I don't even wanna begin to speculate on if it's gonna work flawlessly or be a potential case of the whole being much, much less than the sum of its parts. And that's the exact reason why the Heat are so interesting and actually will deserve TV air time. Everyone wants their expert analysis to be proven fiercely right or viciously wrong on this brand new NBA scenario for the ages.

My prediction on their season? Second best record in the league. Prolly 59-23 or something like that, putting them on pace with the Magic squad from last year. They obviously have the highest ceiling of any team literally in NBA history, but I got them pegged as bonafide contenders, not as record-shattering world-beaters quite yet. As far as playoffs expectations, I'm kind of torn. I think they match up favorably against Orlando, but I think the Celtics would make quick work of Miami's lack of size and an honest Rondo matchup. And those scenarios only makes it complicated because I think the Magic are gonna be one step ahead of the Celtics if they face each other first. And the Bulls are the completely revamped unknown in any case as to their style of play and playoff potential. So if I were to make a gut prediction (which is the whole frickin' point of writing opinion columns in the first place), I got the Heat making it to the Conference Finals in year one and bowing out. No rings for the King yet. Kobe's still alive, ain't he?

Regular Season: 59-23
Playoffs: Eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals

... and do the John Wall.

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