Tag Archives: Miami Heat

Layups, Oct. 05

  • Miami is going to start Michael Beasley at small forward. I get it; they want to start their best 5 players. Plus, if they’re going to go after Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh this summer, they’re not going to want Beas playing the 4. Still, I’m a bit worried about this plan. As I said in my Heat preview, one of the biggest goals this season has to be Beasley’s development. He was actually very good offensively last year, but wasn’t given the minutes or touches to really show what he can do. It’s in the Heat’s long-term best interest to raise Beasley’s stock around the league. Plus, they need his scoring. If you ask me, putting him at the 3 for long stretches of time might hurt his offensive numbers. He’s more valuable offensively on the post than he is on the wing. Plus, on the defensive end, multi-talented 3s will routinely expose his weaknesses. At the end of the season, the Heat need people to be talking about what Beasley can do rather than what he can’t, and, in my eyes, he needs significant minutes at the 4 for this to be the case.
  • The Toronto hype machine is saying that Andrea Bargnani is much improved at everything. Most notable is that his defense is supposedly better – apparently, his anticipation has improved and so has his understanding of team defensive principles. Still, even though I defended his contract extension, I am wary about buying into this. Who exactly is he defending, with Chris Bosh sitting training camp out? Rasho Nesterovic, Patrick O’Bryant, and maybe a bit of Amir Johnson, that’s who. I’m going to wait and see what Bargnani does in a real game, because, as much as I want to believe he’s made a big leap on D, the objective side of me tells me this kind of story is meaningless.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is saying that the Bobcats offered Ray Felton a long-term deal for about $7 million a season and HE TURNED IT DOWN. Whaaaa? Isn’t this team trying to shed its long-term deals? Don’t they want to develop D.J. Augustin? You don’t give $7 million a year to a guy who hasn’t shown any improvement in 4 seasons. Yeah, it seemed like Felton had a lot of potential coming out of UNC, but since arriving in the league he’s been a below average player. He doesn’t score efficiently, can’t shoot the 3, and the only reason his stats look decent is that he plays upwards of 37 minutes a game. Bill Simmons is wrong about this one. If there’s truth to this story, both sides are crazy
  • Brandan Wright will be out 4 to 6 months because he will require shoulder surgery. Don Nelson is upset because Wright “might be the best player in camp” and “it’s quite a loss for us”. So, Nelson’s saying he was finally going to give Wright a shot then. Really? He only let Wright play 9.9 minutes a game in his rookie season and 17.6  in his sophomore season, so why should we believe him? Both seasons, there wasn’t much consistency in the minutes department – he was jerked in and out of the line-up like all other young players tend to be in Golden State. All the while, he’s put up very good per-minute stats, making us dorks who care about such things wish that he will be given an opportunity to showcase his skills somewhere else. I’ve felt bad for this kid the last two years on the Warriors’ bench and feel really, really bad for him now that he’s hurt. Hope he returns at full strength.
  • Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell is speculating that DeJuan Blair might end up putting up the best per-minute stats of any rookie. While I’m not ready to fully jump aboard that train, I’ve got to say I’m excited about the guy. It’s unbelievable that a guy who rebounds like he does slipped so late in the draft. How well does he rebound, exactly? Well, his offensive rebounding rate last season was better than some entire teams’ rates. The guy is a monster. I’ve said it many times before but it bears repeating: The Spurs off-season has been mind-bogglingly good. Without a ton of cap room or a high draft pick, they’ve added a ton of rotation-worthy players and put themselves into title contention once again.

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Filed under Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, Layups, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors

Looking Forward: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat were decent last season. 43-39, with the league’s 11th-best defense and 20th-best offense. Good enough to lose the most boring, meaningless 7-game series in NBA playoff history to the Atlanta Hawks. Dwyane Wade turned in an individual season for the ages, but his teammates were not good enough to make this team a serious contender in the East.

With Wade’s free agency coming up in the summer of 2010, many expected Miami to try to make a big splash this summer and surround the megastar with more talent. With Toronto in the same situation with Chris Bosh, they overhauled the roster and invested significant money in Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani in an order to solidify their core. What did Miami do, get Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer? Nope. These avenues were explored, but all they ended up doing was replacing Jamario Moon and Mark Blount with Wade’s buddy, Quentin Richardson. Bleh.

This is a risky strategy, following the Knicks’ lead in holding out for the 2010 sweepstakes. Dwyane Wade might not be content with another season on a middle-of-the-pack team, losing in the first round of the playoffs. If he sees himself being trapped in Chris Paul Hell and bolts to Chicago or New York next summer, their fan base will be crushed.

Thing is, if it works, it really works. Next summer, everyone’s contract is up. They already have a potential star in Michael Beasley and a nice young PG in Mario Chalmers, and they’re going to have enough cap room to re-sign Wade, sign another big-money player, and find a few role players. As a Raptors fan, I’m absolutely terrified that Bosh will join Wade in Miami. Boozer, Amar’e Stoudemire, and even David Lee are also legitimate possibilities. Of course, this raises the question of whether or not Beasley can be converted to a 3, but if that becomes a problem it will be a pretty good problem to have in Miami. In a city where it seems every NBA player would love to play, having the most flexibility in the league in a star-studded free agency period is certainly a good thing. This team has had an extremely boring summer and I’m not even very excited about watching them in 2009-2010, but I understand their thinking. They have a plan and they’re going to stick to it.

If the Heat are not going to be in the East’s upper echelon (and they won’t be), the single most important part of 2009-2010 is going to be how they develop Michael Beasley. This supremely talented player only played 25 minutes a game for Erik Spolestra’s club last season, despite being taken #2 overall in the NBA draft. Even with his defensive deficiencies, this is far too low. His scoring and rebounding translated very well to the NBA. This season, he’s got to get far more minutes and they have to run more plays for him. With increased playing time and an increased role, there’s no reason this kid can’t average 20 PPG next season. They need to give Beasley the opportunity to shine – it’s the right move for their future, even if it’s later determined that he doesn’t fit alongside Wade and Free Agent X in Miami’s long-term plan.

Aside from Beasley (and Mario Chalmers), there’s probably not going to be much improvement from anyone on this squad. Dwyane Wade does almost as much as humanly possible and, if Jermaine O’Neal actually does return to All-Star form like he says he will, it will defy all logic and historical precedent. It’s a bit unfortunate for Heat fans, to see the same mediocre team trotted back out there again this year, probably destined for another first-round defeat. I guess they’ll just have to live with having one of the game’s very best and most exciting players on the roster. That isn’t so bad, actually.

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Filed under Free Agency, Looking Forward, Miami Heat, Trades

Looking Foward: Allen Iverson

So far, I’ve only covered teams in my “Looking Forward” series. Today, I’m going to make an exception and talk about a player: Allen Iverson. Why? Well, he’s an important guy. Or, at least, he was an important guy. And I’m not sure he’ll end up playing in the NBA next season.

Let’s be clear: I don’t want to see Iverson out of the league. I’ve loved watching him play for over a decade. When the Sixers traded him, I was mad at them. When the Nuggets traded him last season, I immediately bought tickets to what I thought would be his Pistons debut in Toronto (he debuted two nights later in a loss to the Nets). However, when the Pistons shut him down in April due to a shady “back injury”, I completely understood. The Pistons needed him to be a complementary player rather than the focal point of their offense, and he couldn’t do it.

When Allen Iverson was in his prime, in Philadelphia, he was surrounded by guys like Theo Ratliff, Dikembe Mutombo, Raja Bell, Matt Harpring, Keith Van Horn, Tyrone Hill, Todd MacCulloch, Eric Snow, and Aaron McKie. These guys range from shot-blockers to defensive stoppers to distributors to rebounders to spot-up shooters. Guys like Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes, who wanted the ball in their hands to score, did not fit in well with Iverson, so they were shipped out. Those Philly teams were built this way because of Iverson’s style – with the ball in his hands, he was a threat from anywhere on the court. He attracted so much attention from opposing defenses that some of his bad shots functioned as assists. We all loved the way he hit seemingly impossible shots over guys far bigger and stronger than him, with a swagger that said he would make the next shot no matter how many of them rimmed out. Sixer fans appreciated the way those teams played tough defense, making life a pain for opposing teams every night. Sure, those teams never won a title, but they were a fixture in the playoffs and even got to the finals one year. Iverson was a legitimate megastar.

The problem, now, is that Iverson isn’t really a star anymore. At 34 years of age, he’s past his prime. Sure, he can still score. In fact, his shooting percentages haven’t slipped as much as you might think (they were never that good to begin with). However, anyone who’s watched him recently can tell that he’s lost a step. He can’t out-quick every opposing defender in the league anymore. He can’t stay with guys on the defensive end anymore. He doesn’t make the same seemingly impossible plays in the paint that he used to. His strengths now are being able to create his shot, his still-above-average speed, his ability to occasionally make a nice pass, and his ability to play the passing lanes. That’s about it.

Still, these are good things for an NBA player to have, at any age. The problem lies in the fact that his flaws might outweigh his strengths at this point. The swagger that I talked about, the attitude that makes him always think he can always get a shot off and the next one is going in? He needed that on teams that lacked other creators. He needed that when he was counted on to score. At this point, though, all the swagger does is ensure that he still takes a whole lot of jumpers. These are two-point jumpers, low percentage ones, often contested. In Detroit, when Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince were perfectly capable of scoring efficiently, this hurt the team. Despite his steal totals, Iverson was never a very good defender, so, once they realized that he was no help offensively, it made perfect sense to shut him down and admit the experiment was a failure.

Iverson is cursed, now, by the habits he’s developed over the years. He’s still got NBA-level skills but his possession-killing ways mean that he doesn’t fit into most systems. Guys his age generally sign with good teams, with the hope that they can put them over the hump. Take Antonio McDyess, for example. He signed with San Antonio this summer and will presumably start at the 4. He’s not going to put up great numbers or take a ton of shots, but he will fit into their system and help them win. If I was playing a pickup game, I’d still take Iverson over McDyess, but it’s perfectly understandable why McDyess got the full mid-level exception from San Antonio for 2 guaranteed years and Iverson is still waiting to find a team. Sadly, I’m really not sure if there are ANY teams in the league that can use him. The Rockets, without Yao and McGrady, remind me a lot of his Sixer teams, but they have not been linked to Iverson at all. The Heat are kind of similar, but they already have a much more efficient version in Dwyane Wade and I’m not sure they need AI there to take possessions away from him. Still, the rumours persist.

What does this all mean? Well, it means I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he ended up playing somewhere in Europe next season. The thought of it actually kind of depresses me, as I hate seeing players I loved sinking lower than I thought they ever would. This is where we are, though, and, to steal an overused NBA cliché, it is what it is.

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Filed under Free Agency, Looking Forward