10 Thoughts on the Miami Heat in 2011-2012 (NBA Season Preview)

  1. Year 1 of the Big 3 was a failure.  These are 2 of the top 3 guys on the planet, with another all world player, and they came together to win rings.  Anything less was a failure, especially given the best player in the world melted down in the finals.

 

  1. Lebron James is, make no mistake, the best player in the world.  Every advanced metric has him as the best defender this side of Dwight Howard, and really, ask Derrick Rose about that, while he’s the most versatile offensive player the NBA has seen since at least Magic.  And then he disappeared in the finals.  Fans and media were left wondering why.

 

  1. A ton of basketball that no few seem to notice is positioning.  The Mavs had Lebron bottled in during the finals, and Lebron never went to the post or really tried using screens with Wade to change things up.  That’s on both the coach and James himself.  James gets a ton of heat for being weak in the post, but he’s among the best in the NBA once he gets down there.  Teams just need to get him down there.

 

  1. Wade, meanwhile, was excellent last year, but was banged up by the finals and needed James to take a bigger role.  Wade’s a great rebounder and defender, but if he really wants his team to be among the best ever, he has a far more easily addressed weakness than James – he’s a weak shooter.  If his shot has finally improved, look out – this team will be unstoppable.

 

  1. That was only the first of 3 real ways for this team to be unstoppable.  The second is on Chris Bosh’s head.  Bosh was ridiculously inconsistent his first year on a good team, but he has no excuses this year. He’s the best shooting big man besides Dirk and, strangely, Al Horford, and needs to be more aggressive with his shot and, especially, on the boards. If he becomes a board eater, with James and Wade both excellent rebounders, the Heat may be unstoppable.

 

  1. The final way for the Heat to be incredible is if Norris Cole is anywhere as good as he seems.  If he’s a bulldog defender who can penetrate at will and fires up his teammates?  Wow.  How do you help on point guard penetration with James and Wade cutting and Bosh spotting up?  Preseason wonders come along regularly, though, and this doesn’t seem incredibly likely.

 

  1. And that leaves Mario Chalmers are incredibly important.  Chalmers is inconsistent, but when he’s on is a knockdown shooter and capable defender.  Point Guards historically take a bit to develop, so we’ll see what Chalmers can do.  His rising to the spotlight in the playoffs speaks well of him.

 

  1. Many love to berate Joel Anthony as one of the worst starters in the league.  He surely would be that on most teams, but on the Heat he’s allowed to be an excellent help defender and makes the defense top 3 in the league with the Celtics and Bulls.  Sure, he’s a zero on offense, but that worked for Ben Wallace, and if any team can go 4 on 5 on offense, it’s the Heat.

 

  1. Finally, we come to Mike Miller and Shane Battier, both guys who will be asked to be defenders, facilitators, and knock down major shots.  I’m entirely unsure why it was thought to spend most on the same positions Lebron and Wade play, but, well, if these guys do their job defensively and hit open threes, it could all be moot.  They give the Heat one of the best wing rotations in NBA history along with the Jordan, Pippen, Kukoc Bulls.

 

  1. This team will be favored to win the title, but their lack of depth in this schedule is frightening, especially given how much depth the Bulls have, that the Bulls have such a great defensive frontcourt (which, lest we forget, shut the Heat down early in the series when healthy), and can likely score more easily now with Boozer healthy and Rip Hamilton aboard.  Anything less than a title is a failure for this crew, but if Chicago is healthy, I don’t see them even getting as close as they did last year.

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