Technically speaking, the NBA free agency period is still going on. Players can still sign for new clubs if they so wish and teams can still make acquisitions in the open market.
Unfortunately, the talent pool isn’t quite as rich because the big fish have already decided where they will be playing their basketball in 2014-15 and those that are left a predominantly players without a whole host of options. Good thing the Miami Heat did their business nice and early.Heat team president Pat Riley came out of the gates flying in order to sign a younger, more athletic, high quality supporting cast. That was one of the major requirements following last season since Miami was the oldest team in the NBA with an average age of 30.7.
And he addressed it by drafting the likes of Shabazz Napier (23) and signing James Ennis (24) along with Josh McRoberts (27). However, have all the needs and concerns from last year been addressed this offseason?
Considering the fact that Miami ranked dead last in rebounds (36.9) last year, it really is astonishing that they even got into the NBA Finals. Chris Bosh, aka the team’s starting “center,” ranked 47th among all players in the association with 6.6 boards per game.
Heck, that wasn’t even the best among his teammates as he finished second behind LeBron James.
Next season, that will clearly have to change. The team isn’t as strong therefore can’t afford to slack off – especially since they’d be giving up second chance opportunities. Having said that, the team did rank 17th in opponent’s offensive rebounds (10.8), which isn’t too bad.
Nonetheless, giving up nearly 11 second chances a game while failing to get many yourself typically won’t bode well for you.
Dwyane Wade’s health issues
Yet another season has passed and Dwyane Wade is still to take part in all 82 games during the campaign.
The latest length of absence was 29 games last season, although to be fair, at times he was kept out as a precaution rather than actually being unable to go, i.e., on back-to-back nights. Problem is coach Erik Spoelstra could never find a full-time replacement after Mike Miller’s departure, as Toney Douglas, Ray Allen and James Jones all auditioned to be the go-to-guy when Wade was out, but to no avail.
Now with father time creeping up on him (and his iffy knees) at 32 years old, it’s not looking all that likely Flash will play 82 games for the first in his 11-year career, anytime soon – or at all. So with that said, have the Miami Heat found his replacement?
Sure, James Ennis could arguably fill in the role but he would be playing out of position, away from his more natural small forward position. Plus he doesn’t have the on ball skills such as handling or passing ability to pose much of a threat.
Reggie Williams was recently brought on to help out at the 2, but he’s not exactly a standout player.
Alternatively, Coach Spo could go to the two point guard sets with Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole a lot more this season, although odds are he will be a lot more hesitant bearing in mind how poorly Napier played during the summer league – and he will be the only backup at point.
Free Throw Attempts
Considering Miami had two players whose game is based primarily on operating close to the basket, it is surprising that the Heat ranked just 17th in free throw attempts per game (23).
James led the way with 7.6 foul line attempts then Wade and Bosh followed with 4.8 and 3.4 tries, respectively. Those figures will have to go up next year.
In fact, it’s expected since James is no longer in the fold.
As a consequence, Wade and Bosh will see the ball more often and they should be aggressive in order to get some easy points at the charity stripe. Particularly, Bosh who is now apparently allergic to playing going in the lane, even though he could easily blow by most of the bigs in the association.
Since the “Big 3” came together back in 2010-11, the Miami Heat’s bench production has consistently improved – going from dead last in the inaugural year to 17th last season. However, that will have to continue in order to mount some sort of championship challenge.
A case could be made that the 2014-15 bench is weaker than in previous years so that means Cole and Andersen along with the likes of Ennis and Udonis Haslem will all have to up their game to surpass last season’s 30 points per game tally. Even more so considering they won’t have LeBron James or his 27 points per game to lean on.