With just over a month left until the 2013-14 season tips off, team are headed out to the their respective training camp locations. For Miami that destination is the beautiful, sun soaked Bahamas – which sounds a lot like South Beach, now that I think about it.
Sure this is a squad that ripped through the league last year with a historic 27 games winning streak and also went on to win an NBA Championship, so you may be thinking what exactly is left to improve upon?
Chris Andersen F-C
After signing on for the rest of the season back in February, Andersen soon became one of Coach Erik Spoelstra’s go to guys and played a huge part in securing back-to-back titles, helping a Miami Heat side starved of size and rebounding upfront.
The Birdman made 80.7 percent of his shots during the NBA playoffs this year, but that’s because they were mainly dunks and lay-ups. If he were to expand his range to around the 10 to 15 range, then Miami would become an even threat on that end of the court.
Anthony is one of Miami’s best defenders thanks to his awareness defensively which makes him a great asset on rotations. Offensively however, is where the problem lies.
When the Canadian is on the court, Miami averages 107 points per 100 possessions, compared to 110.8 without him. Furthermore, the teams overall effective field goal percentage drops from 55.6 to 53.1 percent.
His offensive game is almost non-existent and he isn’t really much help if LeBron or Wade gets double teamed.
For Michael Beasley, it’s well known that the talent is there, but the problem has always been his attitude.
Having been released by Phoenix following his arrest for possession of marijuana, “B-Easy” was given a second chance to save his career by the team that used the second overall pick on him in the 2008 draft.
If he can come into training camp with the right mindset and continue that throughout the season, it can only mean good things for the Heat.
Despite shooting him 56 percent overall and 40 percent from beyond the arc, during the NBA Finals, Gregg Popovich and San Antonio unsettled James and dared him to beat them from distance. And for a while it actually worked too as King James either forced shots or tried to power his way through gaps that were non-existent, leading to bad shots all around.
Eventually he did find a way to regain his composure and let the game come to him, which resulted in him lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy and the Finals MVP trophy for the second year running.
LeBron will no doubt continue to work on his shot and if (or when) he improves he can consistently hit outside shots and free-throws, he will truly become a complete player.
Dwyane Wade SG
Dwyane Wade’s style of play is the reason he has enamoured himself with so many fans. It is an exciting brand of basketball which gets everyone off their feet and watch in awe as he drives in, contorts his body and scores from angles that verge on the impossible as he crashes to the floor.
However, that very style of play combined with the wear and tear is the reason he has such a long injury list. And unfortunately for Flash, as well as us, his career will be cut short if he doesn’t develop a consistent jumpshot.
Chris Bosh F-C
Bosh has grown immensely as a defensive presence since moving to South Beach, manning the middle for the reigning champs. Unfortunately, his offense has taken a hit and the team has suffered at times.
Throughout the playoffs, teams would crowd James and Wade, which often left Bosh open but he simply could not knock the shots down as he averaged just 12 ppg.
If he cannot find ways to contribute more offensively, then Miami could be in trouble.
Miami was in dire need of size last year or at least some sort of defensive intimidator as teams were often willing to attempt to go into the paint. That’s mainly because until Chris Andersen, the Heat only had Chris Bosh (and Joel Anthony to some extent) as the only big man with any shot blocking capabilities.
Haslem will have to improve upon his less than impressive 0.4 blocks per game in order to make the Heat’s already great defense even better.
Before injuries took their toll, Lewis was one of the best shooters at the forward spot as well as being one of the most versatile as he played either at the 3 or the 4. If he can get fully healthy again, then perhaps we may see flashes of the Lewis of old in Miami’s “small ball” rotation.
The general consensus is that Greg Oden is basically an injury waiting to happen.
The 25 year old has played just 82 games of NBA basketball since being drafted number one overall by Portland back in 2007, which has led to some labelling him as on of the biggest busts in recent history.
If he can stay healthy, I doubt he will achieve the superstar status he was destined for, but he will be a force to reckon with.
Mario Chalmers is a good defender and is a very good 3-point shooter at nearly 40 percent in 2012-13. By no means is he afraid of taking big shots with the game on the line and at times, he comes up with big performances. The problem has been doing it consistently.
In all fairness, Chalmers has improved that aspect of his game. He is now a key player in most contests, whereas before, he would light it up one and you would almost forget he was playing the next. For example, in the NBA Finals this year, Rio had a big game two, scoring 19 and shooting 50 percent overall. However, in games three to five he averaged 4.3 points, which included a scoreless game three which was filled with turnovers and personal fouls.
He did end on a high, scoring 34 points in the final two games, but it would be a lot better if Miami could rely on him all the time, rather than hope Super Mario shows up from time to time.
Norris Cole PG
Norris Cole is another who has consistency problems, especially when it comes to his shot.
During the regular season, Cole improved his 3-point shooting to nearly 36 percent, which was the league average, but struggled at the foul line, shooting just 65 percent and was over 15 percent below the NBA point guard average of 81 percent.
If he can add a more consistent stroke, combined with his blistering speed and athleticism, Norris Cole could be a very dangerous player for the Miami Heat.
Ray Allen SG
Considering he is the all-time leader in 3-point field goals made, I’d say Ray Allen at the very least qualifies as a pretty damn good shooter, so offensively he is set. Defensively however, although he isn’t awful, he’s not exactly one of his best attributes.
Without Ray Allen in the line-up, Miami has a defensive rating of 97.2 per 100 possessions. With Allen on the court, that figure shoots up to 103.7 in the regular season. (NBA.com/stats)
Allen takes pride great pride in taking care of his body but father time is catching up to him and he cannot keep up with the younger, more athletic guards. Unfortunately he is also not strong enough to match up against the small forwards.
James Jones G/F
Jones, just like Ray Allen, is another one of Miami’s sharpshooters, and by no means is he a defensive stud even though statistics would suggest otherwise.
With Jones on the floor, the Heat stifle teams to just 95.7 points per 100 possessions compared to the 100.7 when he is off. Those numbers are somewhat misleading as players can often get past Jones or bully him into the paint due to his slight-6’8”, 215lb frame.
In addition to this, the 2011 NBA 3-point shootout champion often found himself stuck on the bench or not at all, playing just 38 contests as Spoelstra preferred the likes of Mike Miller, Ray Allen and Shane Battier. Therefore he often played against weakened line-ups or simply had playing time when the result was no longer in doubt.
In order to improve, will have to get better defensively and possibly add a little more muscle to get stronger.
Shane Battier F
Since the Heat often play a small ball style of play, players such as Battier will have to improve upon their rebounding after Miami came in dead last in total rebounds.
As good as the Heat defense is, failing to grab boards only negates the effort they put in. A point illustrated by the Indiana Pacers when Roy Hibbert and Co. dominated the boards and nearly forced an upset.