With the team at 3-3, not too much has been found out about this new look because one of the most prominent members of the big three, Dwyane Wade, hasn’t played more than five minutes. Wade suffered a hamstring injury in the first minutes of the team’s preseason opener against the Detroit Pistons while trying to chase Richard Hamilton on defense.
In the Heat’s recent preseason loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, James set the preseason high in points with 33 while only playing 29 minutes and sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Bosh has also played at the level he has been accustomed to by hitting jumpers, commanding the glass and controlling the paint on both ends of the court.
While Bosh and James are playing at the level we had hoped to see, there are a number of players on the roster looking for a spot that will give them a decent number of minutes come regular season time. Some players, on the other hand, have been performing less than admirably and are seeing their stock decline.
We’re buying and selling in South Beach. These are the players who either have been exceeding expectations or have been disappointing.
Most Miami Heat fans expected newcomer Mike Miller to become the team’s No. 1 three-point shooter, but apparently the Heat had their top three-point shooter all along in James Jones. The product of the University of Miami has been nothing less than outstanding from beyond the arc, hitting 42 percent of his shots with at least one three-pointer in every preseason game thus far.
In the team’s recent game against the New Orleans Hornets, Jones showed a sense of resilience after starting off 0-for-3 from the three, but finishing the game 5-for-11 from beyond the arc. He finished with 15 points in 35 minutes.
While Jones isn’t expected to start, he has definitely earned more playing time than what was originally expected. He adds more firepower to a bench already chock-full of three-point shooters.
Not to say Mike Miller hasn’t been a quality shooter at 38 percent per game, but we’re selling him because he’s currently being outshined at the moment as a three-point shooter by Jones. Mike has had a few quality outings in five games, with consecutive outings of 2-for-3 from beyond the arc, but has also struggled mightily in a few games, shooting 3-for-10 against the Oklahoma City Thunder and 2-for-7 against Charlotte.
Not to mention that Miller has also come up empty on a number of wide-open three-point opportunities. As a member of the Heat who is not part of the big three, Miller will be highly expected to make open jumpers from just about everywhere on the court.
While the veteran is learning the art of the pick-and-roll quite well, hitting a number of open mid-range jumpers, he will need to step up his three-point game if he doesn’t want to become the second option off the bench when the Heat need some points on the board.
With Mario Chalmers listed as the starting point guard, there is a heavy battle for the second spot as Beverly, Carlos Arroyo and Kenny Hasbrouck are all fighting it out. Surprisingly, the player you least expect, Beverly, has been the favorite, greatly impressing Heat fans as a well-rounded player. His best game so far was in the Heat’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, when he scored 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.
Patrick has also been getting to the foul line as well, taking free throws in every game thus far. His shooting hasn’t quite been up to par at a dismal 28 percent overall, but his 38 percent shooting from beyond the arc makes up for it. He has averaged seven points, five rebounds and three assists per game over the preseason, and is making a strong case of why he should remain on the Heat’s roster following the necessary cuts.
Expectations have been high for Kenny Hasbrouck since he joined the team last season. In his first outing with a decent number of minutes, he has given no reason that he should remain on this ball club. Needless to say, the former Siena star has had a rough preseason in just about every aspect of the game. His shooting is an awful 22 percent, and he continues to fool himself as a three-point shooter when he has hit only one of 15 in five games.
Kenny did have a quality outing against CSKA Moscow, when he scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, but it was his lone good shooting outing: He posted 2-of-15 shooting in the loss to the Spurs and 1-of-11 in the loss to the Hornets, where he missed his first nine shots.
His turnovers have also been a recurring problem, currently averaging three per game. When cuts come around, Kenny will surely be the first to go barring a breakout game in the final two preseason outings.
I was a large advocate for Joel Anthony as the Heat’s starting center for a time. While I still am, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is slowly but surely convincing me that he should be the starter. Not only does Big Z spread out opposing defenses with his ability to hit mid-range shots, but he has been a solid producer on the offensive end for three of the five contests he has played in thus far.
Z had a preseason high of eight points on 4-of-8 shooting in the Heat’s win over CSKA Moscow. He also had eight points and four rebounds in his debut with the team.
While he certainly is not the defender and shot-blocker that Anthony is, he has been a more solid rebounder and scorer, and is surely the team’s second option at center.
Everybody knew going in that the Heat were strongly lacking at the center position. Considering that the Heat’s starter, Joel Anthony, averaged two points over his career is reason enough to believe that the team does have some sort of problem in the paint. But this has become more of a problem as the preseason has progressed.
I’m being nice when I say Joel has had an absolutely awful preseason so far: He only has two points in five games while attempting only four shots. But his obvious worst stat is having only 11 rebounds in the team’s five contests.
He has a decent number of minutes, 16 minutes per game, and is quickly challenging the Toronto Raptors‘ Andrea Bargnani as the NBA’s worst rebounding big man.
Joel’s game is measured in the number of blocks he racks up, so far at a quality two per game; but he’ll need to contribute some caroms if he wants to remain the starting center.
The Big Three
Even with Dwyane Wade not out on the floor, it’s obvious that the Miami Heat’s big three of Wade, James and Bosh are going to be absolutely and utterly dominant during the regular season. Without Wade, LeBron and Chris have begun to establish themselves as the floor leaders, and are already the focal point on offense and defense as well.
Bosh has had a number of quality outings, including a 24-point and five-rebound game against the Hornets, where he scored 20 third-quarter points, a 20-point and six-rebound outing on opening night, and an even more impressive 23-point and seven-rebound night in a win against the Thunder. Chris has been found open on a number of occasions and has even hit from deep—nailing a couple of jumpers from nearly beyond the arc.
James is self-explanatory and has been nothing less than amazing as a member of the Miami Heat. LeBron has averaged 21 points per game in 25 minutes thus far, and has taken the reins from Wade as he recovers from his injury.
LeBron has scored in double digits in every game, even a game where he played only one quarter. He has capped it off with a preseason-high 33 points in the Heat’s game against the Bobcats. LeBron would have hit 40 points with ease had he played the fourth quarter.
Point Guards Playing Defense
It was an issue last season and it’s an issue this season: the Heat cannot contain opposing point guards. They recently allowed Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin to score 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while allowing him to also hit all three of his three-point attempts. Chris Paul was limited to seven points, but still controlled the tempo for his team with seven assists. And the Heat allowed the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook to score 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting, just to name a few.
You can argue that the Heat point guards are allowing numbers like this because they have been playing Patrick Beverly mostly at the point. But it has shown up as a problem at point as Chalmers, Arroyo, Hasbrouck and Beverly have all struggled at the one spot when it comes to defense.
Considering their largest foes in the Eastern Conference, the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics, have All-Star-caliber point guards, this might come as a problem come postseason if the Heat don’t find a way to limit opposing point guards.
The Heat, as well as any other team, have their positives and negatives to look at with the regular season drawing near. It’s obvious to see that they need to make moves to improve the team to championship-winning caliber.
With two preseason games left and Wade scheduled to return on opening night, the Heat appear ready for a title run with the big three leading the way.
They’ll just need their teammates to do some of the lifting as well.