Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming. Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players. Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.
The Miami Heat were close, but not close enough to win the NBA Championship. Besides making sure LeBron‘s ego is okay after the bashing it has taken in the past couple of weeks, Miami needs to find better role players to compliment their Big 3.
By: David Kay
Miami Heat (58-24 last season)
’10-’11 Season in Review:
You have to give the Heat this; even though they fell short in winning the World Championship, they helped create quite possibly the most entertaining twelve months of NBA basketball since the mid-90’s. But with all the hype surrounding the Yankees of the NBA, anything short of a NBA title is a disappointment.
It took some time, but Miami was able to find their groove after a slow start. The team went 49-13 after beginning the year with a 9-8 mark and did so short handed as Mike Miller missed half of the regular season and Udonis Haslem was limited to just thirteen games due to injury before returning in the post-season.
One of the many questions surrounding the Heat this season was how their role players would compliment the Big Three. Miller and Haslem were supposed to be big factors in that equation, but Miami had to look elsewhere relying on guys like James Jones, Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mario Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo, Eddie House, and even signing washed up veterans like Erick Dampier and Mike Bibby in hopes of finding an additional boost.
But with the Heat, it all revolves around their superpower trio. Not needing to burden the load like he did in Cleveland, LeBron saw his numbers dip some but still proved to be one of the best all-around players in the league. Dwyane Wade also benefited from having some responsibility lifted from his shoulders and emerged as the closer of the team.
Chris Bosh proved what we already knew; a soft power forward who is more comfortable hitting mid-range shots than trying to be a true presence in the post. Of the Big Three, Bosh received the most criticism throughout the season and truly appeared to be riding the coattails of his two new teammates.
So how do you judge the first year of this experiment in South Beach? Finishing with the second best record in the Eastern Conference is probably right on par with what most expected from this team. We knew it was going to take some time for the pieces to gel together and that is what happened. Yet, Miami was still the favorites come the NBA Finals but failed to cash in on their pre-season promise. Before it is all said and done thought, expect the Heat to be laughing last.
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Udonis Haslem/Joel Anthony/^Zydrunas Ilgauskas/Dexter Pittman
PF: Chris Bosh
SF: LeBron James/Mike Miller
SG: Dwyane Wade/*Eddie House
PG: #Mario Chalmers
#PG-Mario Chalmers (RFA)
*G-Eddie House (PO)
^C-Zydrunas Ilgauskas (PO)
PG-Mike Bibby (UFA)
SF-James Jones (UFA)
PF-Juwan Howard (UFA)
C-Erick Dampier (UFA)
C-Jamaal Magloire (UFA)
’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $62.1 million
1. Brain Surgeon for LeBron:
LeBron took an absolute beating for his fourth quarter no-shows in the NBA Finals and you cannot help but wonder how that might effect his psyche heading into next season. He has been able to brush off the criticism in the past but with the growing reputation of being a choke artist, Miami needs to make sure LeBron has his head straight this off-season and can put the Finals in his rear view.
2. Point Guard:
From Mario Chalmers to Carlos Arroyo to a washed up Mike Bibby; the Heat just did not have a point guard . Chalmers showed glimpses at times of being a solid role player but is a restricted free agent. Miami does not need a point guard who can create and find open teammates; LeBron and Wade can handle that responsibility. Instead, the Heat has to add a point guard who can defend but also knock down open jump shots since LeBron and Wade are inconsistent from the perimeter.
3. True Big:
The world knows that Chris Bosh is one of the softest power forwards in the league so Miami needs to find a capable big man who can protect the rim and maybe give Miami some sort of a back to the basket scoring presence. Udonis Haslem is a solid role player but best suited playing the four while Joel Anthony is nothing more than an energy guy who should be seeing regular minutes. Add in Big Z’s free agency and it leaves a hole in the middle for the Heat.
OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.