The Heat have LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as their core, but none of those guys are true centers. In fact, Miami averages 38.8 rebounds per game and they are tied for last in the NBA in that vastly important category. James is a great player and a talented rebounder, but he’s nowhere near seven feet tall. Bosh is a power forward and he’s a decent rebounder as well. But the Heat lack a dominant center.
Luckily for them, s0me should be available on the trade market. A great center is rare these days, but there are still some in the NBA. And one of those, while not considered as good as Dwight Howard, is Al Jefferson. Jefferson, currently with the Utah Jazz, is going to be a free agent this offseason and since the Jazz have an abundance of talented big men, he could be on the move.
Utah is a decent team, but they aren’t going to compete for a championship this year or anytime soon. The Jazz are 21-19, which isn’t bad, but in the Western Conference–jam-packed with talent–they won’t be going anywhere. However, Jefferson will be gone, whether it comes through a trade or through free agency. If he wants a championship, he won’t get it in Utah.
Jefferson is one of the league’s better big men and the Heat don’t have one of those. But they do have talent in the backcourt, as they have Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Norris Cole and Ray Allen there, so one of those guys and draft picks could be shipped to Utah. Jefferson is 11th in the league with 9.8 RPG and he ranks above two of the top 10 guys in rebounds per 48 minutes with 14.3.
Some people think rebounding isn’t the most important thing and it probably isn’t. But when you have James, Wade, Bosh and Allen on your team and you can’t rebound, you should focus on trying to bring in a big man, even if it’s only a rental for the playoffs.
But players want championships and when you’re on the Heat, you have a great chance of winning. So there’s a chance Jefferson and his 17.4 points per game will be in South Beach for a while if he does end up in Miami by way of a trade.
If the Heat don’t get their big man at the trade deadline, they will likely pony up and offer Jefferson some money in free agency, since they need a big man; it’s hard to win a championship when you are the worst rebounding team in the league. That need should net Jefferson a lot of money and a home in Miami, so a trade now could mean a lot for the Heat in the future.
Chemistry is always a concern with a new player, but the Heat would have lots of time with Jefferson to get him settled in before the playoffs. By the time the postseason rolls around, he will be boosting the Heat from the rebounding doldrums and into the NBA Finals.
That is, if the two teams strike a deal before the deadline.
Utah needs to get Enes Kanter, the third pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, some minutes, as he is averaging less than 7.7 in his last three games and just more than 14 all year. He is averaging over 6 PPG and 4 RPG, so in, say, 35 minutes, he could be a very good center for the Jazz.
Giving him some time this year will pay dividends for next year. And getting rid of Jefferson and bringing in some young backcourt talent, like Cole or even Chalmers, would only help the Jazz. Utah needs a good point guard, so a Chalmers-for-Jefferson swap could help. Miami would be able to get Cole some playing time and Wade and Allen would still be in the backcourt.
So, the Heat wouldn’t really lose anything that they can’t replace, and the same goes for Utah, which would acquire a talented point guard (in the case of Chalmers) or a decent backcourt player and probably a package of picks (in the case of Cole). However, Miami would gain an intimidating frontcourt presence to compliment the star power brought by James, Wade and Bosh.
The Heat are the team to beat and the overwhelming favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, but they don’t want to just get to the NBA Finals. The West has been proclaimed as a tougher conference overall and it will be very hard for the Heat to repeat.
But there is a simple way to make it easier: Bring in Al Jefferson.
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