By: Jason Luo
Over the summer, the NBA was struck by arguably the most influential free-agency class in history. The most notable of all the free agent movements was, you guessed it, the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat. The Heat will be the hot topic I talk about today, but before I do so, I want to briefly revisit the past.
In the 07/08 NBA season, the Boston Celtics signed an elite squad of ring-less veterans to try to define all odds and steal the NBA Championship from teams that have been building and rebuilding for years. When the season began, all eyes were on the Celtics and they did not disappoint. Not only did they have an outstanding record at the end of the season, they clinched a spot in the NBA finals. The Celtics then claimed the NBA title by blowing out the Lakers in game 6.
The Celtics needed no-name players to step up and push the team over the hill to an NBA championship. These players are now known as Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. They developed under superstars and are now stars themselves.
The Heat is in a similar position. Miami has three superstars and a group of promising players: Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, James Jones, and Mario Chamlers. Not only do the Heat have penetrating power in Wade and LeBron, they have 3-point shooting in Miller, House, and Jones (all around 40% accuracy) and rebounding in Bosh, Haslem, and Ilgauskas. What’s scarier for other teams is that Wade, LeBron, and Bosh are all in their prime and have many years of playing ahead of them. If Miami doesn’t win a championship this season, they will have five more years of Wade, LeBron, and Bosh before the multi-million dollar contracts expire.
With three superstars that can each lead their own teams and potent backup players that have yet to discover what they can really do when given the playing time, the Heat, I think, can win a championship this season.
First, there seems to be instant chemistry. Reviewing the training camp and pre-season games, I saw teamwork and unselfishness. No one had possession of the ball for too long and there was a lot of rotation and passing. The three superstars have a lot of chemistry between them as they are very good friends on and off the court and have played together in the 2008 Summer Olympics as Team USA (they won the Olympic gold medal). Also, many players on the Heat’s roster have played with each other before. LeBron played with Ilgauskas in Cleveland, and Wade, Chalmers, Jones, Haslem, and House have all played in Miami.
Second, the Heat has so many weapons. Wade, LeBron, and Bosh can take over games all by themselves. If LeBron is 10 for 12 in field goals, do you double team him and leave Wade or Bosh free? What about if Wade and Bosh are both on fire? Now imagine this line up: Wade, Jones, House, Miller, and Bosh. A pick and roll involving Bosh and Wade at the top of the 3-point line can lead to a whole lot of trouble for the defending team. Wade, one of the best in the NBA at weaving through traffic, can create so many offensive options. He can drive the ball to the hole, pass it to a rolling Bosh, or dish it to one of the potent 3-point shooters on the outside. Switch Jones with LeBron and you have an even more potent, diverse line up. With two superstars pressuring the lane, two 3-point shooters pressuring beyond the arch, and another superstar pressuring the key, the Heat can without a doubt create trouble for the opposing team.
Third, the Heat has a deadly rotation. Each of the big 3 can play for around 40 minutes per game (LeBron for 40, Wade for 38, and Bosh for 37 minutes). This means that for most of the game, two of the big 3 can be on the court (while leaving some time for all three of them to be on). Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s coach, has his work cut out for him. While two of the Heat’s superstars battle with the opposing team’s starting line up, one of the Heat’s superstars can rest. At the right time, Erik Spoelstra can then sub a fresh superstar in off the bench to deal with the opposing team’s second line up.
Lastly, the Heat has a lot of potential for defence. The Heat finished last season as the second best defensive team (in opponents points per game) in the NBA under Erik Spoelstra. That’s an awesome feat considering the Heat weren’t contenders at that point. The Heat’s main defensive players last season, I would say, were Wade, Haslem, and Jermaine O’Neal. This season the Heat still have Wade and Haslem, but O’Neal was replaced by Bosh. Although shot blocking and defensive toughness were lost in this transaction, youth, rebounding, and scoring were gained. On a side note Bosh had the best season of his career last season finishing with 24.0 PPG and 10.8 RPG (points and rebounds per game). If Spoelstra can keep the Heat defensive minded and at the same time use the big 3 to their full potential, the Heat have an amazing shot at the title this year.
Keep in mind that I wrote this article two weeks before the NBA season started so it is completely based on offseason and preseason speculation. On the next issue of Graffiti I will be discussing the NBA season up to that point, future standings and possible playoff matchups. I hope you guys enjoyed my insight and I’ll see you next time.
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