New Miami Heat Roster Shaping Up

July 19, 2010 in Basketball, NBA by pacejmiller

We all know the Miami Heat now has the formidable trio of Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh, but without much else, few experts predicted them to be genuine title contenders.  Now, as expected, the rest of the roster has just about filled up with plenty of solid players taking a pay cut for the chance at a championship.

Let’s take a look at how the brand new Heat roster stacks up.

(to read the rest of this post click on ‘more…’)

The Big Three

Not much to say here about the new Big Three for Miami.  They now have 2 of the top 3 players in the NBA at any position (the other being Kobe) and a top 5 power forward (statistically probably top 3) on the floor at the same time.  Each guy previously had to carry their entire team but now they’ll be able to play off each other.  All three can take and make the big shot.  Some say they will fight over the ball, but I’d rather be in that position than the opposing side wondering who they will have to double team!

With all due respect to the Boston Big Three, this one kills it, at least on paper.  Even just having any two of them on the floor will be difficult for opponents to handle, let alone all three.  If they start dominating early, Coach Spolestra could formulate a system where the Big Three is split into rotating duos to give them plenty of rest until the playoffs.

Dwyane Wade PG/SG — 28yo, 6-4, 220lbs — 26.6ppg, 4.8rpg, 6.5apg, 1.84spg, 1.06bpg

Look at the Heat roster last season.  With this average line-up, D-Wade still managed to carry them to a 47-35 record and a first round exit against the East Champs Celtics.  Now Wade no longer has to do it himself every night and will love Lebron and Bosh by his sides.

Lebron James PG/SF/PF — 25yo, 6-8, 250lbs — 29.7ppg, 7.3rpg, 8.6apg, 1.64spg, 1.01bpg

He asked for it and now he’s got it.  Lebron will have to endure the wrath of the Cleveland Cavaliers and pretty much the rest of the NBA, but at least he’ll get to take his talent to South Beach with his buddies.  Without the pressure to score as much, expect the other facets of Lebron’s game to flourish.  He could very well play three positions every night and average a triple-double.

Chris Bosh PF/C — 26yo, 6-10, 230lbs — 24ppg, 10.8rpg, 2.4apg

Expect Bosh to take a bit of a back seat and defer to Wade and Lebron, but I don’t expect his numbers to drop too much, especially since he will no longer be double teamed every night and will be getting easy shots all game.  Perhaps the spare energy could be channelled to the defensive end where he will certainly need it.

New Additions

Mike Miller SG/SF30yo, 6-8, 218lbs — 10.9ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.9 apg (from Washington)

The single biggest addition to the Big Three, Miller’s deadly shooting will be a perfect fit for this new Heat Team.  He shot over 50% from the field and 48% from three-point range on the Washington Wizards last season — but now he’ll be shooting open jumpers all day on the Heat.  Could pair him in the backcourt with Wade or the frontcourt with Lebron,  or come off the bench to fill minutes at SG or SF.  Great pick-up by the Heat.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas C — 35yo, 7-3, 260lbs — 7.4ppg, 5.4rpg (from Cleveland)

Big Z has followed Lebron from Cleveland to Miami, where he could very well be the starting center on opening night.  At 35 he may not be the player he once was, but he’s still 7-3 on a team that still needs his imposing size.  With his ability to stretch the defense and shoot the ball from mid-range, Ilgauskas should be a valuable asset for the Heat this upcoming season.

Juwan Howard PF — 37yo, 6-9, 253lbs — 6ppg, 4.3rpg (expected to sign from Portland)

In the twilight of his career, Howard can still be a utility back-up at power forward with his size, skills and experience.  He won’t be a big impact player anymore but should still get the job done when called upon.

Dexter Pittman C — 22yo, 6-10, 290lbs (Rookie)

Pittman is a second round draft pick (the Heat had no first rounders this year) that’s already been signed to a contract with the Heat.  He has youth, size and strength on his side, but given his lacklustre performances in the Summer League thus far, it’s unclear whether Pittman will see anything except garbage time this upcoming season.

Returning Heat Members from Last Season

These are the guys that were in a Miami Heat jersey last season — with the exception of Mario Chalmers who was still under contract and Joel Anthony whose team option was exercised, the remainder have re-signed with the team for less money.

Mario Chalmers PG — 24yo, 6-1, 190lbs — 7.1ppg, 3.4apg, 1.25spg

This will be Chalmer’s third season in the NBA.  Started 23 games last season and is a serviceable point guard that could flourish in a system where he defers to the Big Three like a first year Rajon Rondo (though completely different styles).

Joel Anthony PF/C — 27yo, 6-9, 245lbs — 2.7ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.36bpg

Undersized center used rather sparingly last season for the Heat, though he did start 16 games and averaged 16.5 minutes.  Decent shot blocker and rebounder but limited offensively.  Anthony could struggle to find minutes with the other bigs in the line-up but could shift down to play some minutes at power forward.

Udonis Haslem PF/C — 30yo, 6-8, 235lbs — 9.9ppg, 8.1rpg

Another undersized front court player who will be integral to the Heat’s success this season as Haslem is the type of guy who hustles, rebounds, bangs, sets picks and does all the dirty work down low for his team.  At 30 years of age still very efficient, but could struggle with the taller and more athletic bigs on opposing teams.

James Jones SG/SF — 28yo, 6-8, 225lbs — 4.1ppg, 0.411 3P% (expected to re-sign)

Skinny forward James Jones is a sharpshooter that could really find a niche on this team.  Has had a patchy run in Miami but few remember that when he was in Phoenix he averaged almost 10 points a game primarily shooting open jumpers.  Has a career 3p% of 0.395.

Jamaal Magloire C — 32yo, 6-11, 260lbs — 2.1ppg, 3.1rpg (expected to re-sign)

The veteran only played 36 games at 10 minutes per game off the bench last season, but with the number of undersized big men on the roster he could get called up to perform.  Magloire is not the same player he was 6 or 7 years ago when averaged a double-double for the Hornets but is still serviceable off the bench.

Carlos Arroyo PG/SG — 31yo, 6-2, 202lbs — 6.1ppg, 3.1apg (expected to re-sign)

Statistically declining for the past 4 seasons but still a very serviceable point guard at almost 31 years old.  Arroyo likes to run and could be rewarded in a system with the Big Three.

Who else?

With 15 spots and 13 filled, there are 2 spots remaining on the Heat roster.  Remember, only 12 players can be suited up to play on any given night (with the other 3 on the inactive list), but it’s still important to fill them up in case of injuries.

Two guys who have been impressing in the Summer League include point guard Kenny Hasbrouck and forward Shavlick Randolph, and one or both could be signed to complete the Heat roster for 2010-2011.  Over the hill Penny Hardaway has also thrown his name into the mix in his search for that elusive ring.

How does the roster look?

Regardless of who they get to fill out the remaining spots on the roster, this new Miami Heat team looks very stacked and should be an immediate contender for the NBA crown bar an unfortunate injury to any of the Big Three.  They actually still have about half of their remaining roster from last season (7 players) led by superstar Dwyane Wade, but now also have the addition of reigning two-time MVP Lebron James, All-Star Chris Bosh, sharp-shooter Mike Miller, and old but dependable veterans in Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard.  It will be an experienced veteran team with 6 players over 30 (but only 2 over 35) and only 3 players 25 or less (including Lebron).  A lack of dependable size (with a single 7-footer in Ilgauskas and Bosh at 6-10, with rookie Pittman and oldie Magloire at 6-11) may hurt them, but whichever way you look at it, the Heat are going to be very very good next season.

Projected line-ups

My starting 5 would be:

PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF Lebron James
PF Chris Bosh
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas

However, against smaller lineups they can also shift Bosh to C, move Lebron to PF and start Mike Miller at SF.  Alternatively they can move Wade to PG and insert Miller at SG.  Anthony could also start at C if Ilgauskas is not up to the task.  Haslem could also start at C or PF (moving Bosh to the other position) and have Wade, Miller and Lebron fill out the other spots.  Given Lebron’s ability to play anything from PG to PF, this leaves a lot of possibilities for dynamic movements in the roster depending on the opponent that night.

If Miller doesn’t start, he’ll be a super sub playing significant minutes and an instant 6th Man of the Year candidate.  Arroyo should also see solid minutes at the guard spots.  James Jones, if he finds his shooting stroke, could be an excellent contributor off the bench.  Howard will be a veteran spot filler and guys like Magloire and Pittman will add provide additional size and fouls if necessary.

Of course, it’s still too early to tell how these pieces will jell and whether there will be any chemistry issues.  Despite having played on Team USA together, it will still take a bit of time for Wade, James and Bosh to hit their stride as a collective unit.  A severe injury to any of the Big Three could also derail things in a hurry.  Having said that, even the biggest Lebron/Heat hater will have to admit that the Heat are looking like the frontrunners to challenge the Lakers’ title next season.