What are the defending Eastern Conference Champions got left heading into the 2014-15 season? Lebron has left, the most (arguably) talented team in the NBA is now void of its best player, the best of players. To hijack some of Sean Bean’s finest, one does not simply replace Lebron James – just ask that 2010-11 Cleveland roster.
One however, should not underestimate Pat Riley also, and yet I dare say, the NBA community have. Caught up with Chris Bosh, the 118 million dollar man, albeit completely overpriced, has been a side show to some of Miami’s moves. The NBA community have failed to appreciate the value of that ageing, unproven, ragtag group of free agents Riley has acquired this offseason. From Danny Granger to Napier the Miami Heat are reshaping their team with winners and experience – a Riley specialty? This along with a little bit of grit, shooting, toughness, and killer instinct can never be underestimated in a very personal mono a mono sport.
Clearly, the fate of this team will rest with the health of Dwayne Wade, as usually NBA teams go as far as their stars take them.. Except for that dreaded black and white nightmare that likely haunt the fans of Southern Florida basketball still on a regular basis. However, the now ‘big two’ are still an underestimated force when healthy in this league, along with the makeup of this team.
You would surely be a fool to overlook a player who can spread the floor, block shots, averaged 23 and 9 over 5 years and is a two time NBA champion. Or, how about a 3 time champion, a former finals MVP, scoring champion, former 1st team player, a gold medalist; how quickly they forget. To reluctantly quote Skip Bayless ‘I do not count against Dwayne Wade,’ and neither do I. This guy averaged 19ppg at 55% shooting, and it was one of the worst years of his career. Playing crippled during the playoffs he came up short – now he is the man yet again. Don’t tell me for a second he won’t be carrying an edge, to restore his legacy from the ageing, deteriorated sidekick, no way. This team will space the floor arguably the best in the NBA, a starting lineup of chalmers, wade, deng, Bosh and McRoberts. Wade is probably the worst from deep in that lineup.. McRoberts who shot 36% from deep last year and is a commendable rebounder will give the Heat a unique opportunity as their two starting bigs are primarily jump shooters. The infusion of Birdman and Lewis will add to the mix, Andersen being crucially important as a defensive presence, and Lewis (who will hopefully re-sign) adding further to their 7ft jump shot identity. Granger, and Deng who add a lot of flexibility defensively from 2 – 4 and give a bit on the offensive side of the floor will be a much needed support to an ageing Bosh and Wade. Then we come to Chalmers, Cole and Napier who can invest a lot of potential, defense and a winning attitude to their roles and help pace it up with their small ball style of play.
To say that the Miami era is over, would likely be a very risky statement at this stage. We all saw how the bitterly distraught Spurs of about a year ago rebounded and we could likely see this from players such as: Cole, Chalmers, Wade and Bosh again. Come next year if Wade has a successful surgery, watch out! The Heat are still a threat in the East and could knock off some big time teams; maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers for example.