There’s a lot of anticipation and even more expectation as the new season approaches. Perhaps there has never been a season in the Heat history that will matter more than this one. We have a new coach, Randy Pfund is gone and we have an otherwise unproven roster of what amounts to young untested talent. Now, I have no doubt that
Coach President Riley will eventually deliver, but one has to wonder this – ‘Will the Heat be any good this year’?
Ever since he came on the scene, we’ve always counted on Dwyane Wade to carry the team. Let’s face it, while Shaq may have led the team to the finals in 2006, it was Wade, Haslem and Zo who secured the trophy in game 6, and it was Wade who did the heavy lifting when it seemed that we were going to be swept in those finals. But, it’s 2008 and we’ve got a different Wade. Sure, there are those that are going to say that he will be vastly improved over last year, which I believe, but then there are going to be those who would suggest that D-Wade will never be the same guy he was circa June ’06. For Me, I simply wish him well and hope he’s even a fraction of what he was in our championship season.
One argument that people will certainly present is that Wade looked like a world beater at the Olympics. Sure, but he was also surrounded by BronBron, Kobe, Carmelo, and the entire Nike all-pro team. It’s pretty easy to look great when you’re Wade and playing with the best in the world. But, it’s another story altogether when you have to carry a team night in and night out.
The best case scenario is that Wade enters the season with his merry band of assassins and totally takes the league by storm. In my mind, the success of the team and Wade hinges on the following:
- Udonis Haslem channels PJ & Brian Grant and becomes a beast – The Heat have had a long line of undersized big men who would come up big when called upon. For the Heat to be a success in 2008, Udonis has to be the man to pick up the slack. Now, I know there’s going to be those who say ‘We have Beasley and Marion’. Well, the fact of the matter is that Udonis is built in the same way as our other past big men – quiet, workman-like, with a mean streak. These are qualities I just don’t see in Marion or Beasley. Remember the night when Udonis stared down Jermaine O’neal, and all Jermaine could do is call Haslem a role player? See, that’s what you have to love about Haslem. Miami needs an enforcer, someone who can give us 12-14 good points each night along with getting 10+ boards. If we are to return to prominence, it’s going to begin with Wade and Haslem as the Pillars.
- Beasley and Marion provide consistent scoring – If Marion and Beasley become the great forward tandem of the league, the Heat are virtually unstoppable. But, you know how on the video games we build these great teams that never actually work out in real life? This is sort of like that. The reality is that either Beasley or Marion can’t work in Miami, it’s just the way it is. To be honest, Haslem, Beasley, and Marion all play the small/power forward role, with Haslem more along the lines of forward/center. That simply leaves Marion and Beasley fighting for minutes on a nightly basis. Now, the keen thing to do is to make Beasley work for his minutes in the beginning, but when you’ve just finished a 15-win season, working people in is probably not going to do it for the fans, especially when the guy you’re holding back is your consolation prize for a dreadful year. So, the real, best second option is to go with the NFL two-back model, where they play some together, sometimes you player the hotter guy, and most of the time there is a designated go-to guy (Marion). This whole Forward by committee plan would work if everyone came in with the win first mentality. And, I understand we’re talking about getting into rhythms and needing to give guys consistent minutes, but I really do think that they could work.
We find a strong Point guard solution – Okay, Shaun Livingston is not ready. I’ve had to tell myself that everyday since he signed with the team. I still can’t believe that we were able to get Shaun. I think that if he comes back and can be fully recovered, we have the steal of the decade. He was already showing signs of growth right before the injury, and if he can get back to where he was, we’re set. But……
Before any of that happens, were back where we were last season; pick your poison – Chris Quinn or Marcus Banks. Mario Chalmers? Well, to be honest, I fully expected him to be on his way out, what with the whole marijuana episode. I mean, remember Rodney Buford? But, let’s say Chalmers is the next great point in the league; that still doesn’t happen this year. So, we’re on the Chris Quinn Train, and I must admit, I’m not that worried about it. I think that Chris has the potential to be a decent 1 man in this league and besides, it’s really going to be D-Wade controlling the ball most of the time anyway.
- We need a strong bench – It’s
importantessential to have strong bench play in the upcoming season. I think Pat has assembled a pretty resilient bench, with James Jones & Dorrell Wright leading the way. I’ve loved JJ since his days at The U with Darius Rice. I think we have a really interesting set of bench guys, especially on paper, and I feel that if they develop a chemistry, we should be alright.
I think the Heat and D-Wade should be looking a whole lot better in 08-09 considering the Heats’ record of resilience.
Good Times //