Miami Heat: Who Has the Most to Prove in the 2012-’13 Season?

For LeBron James, he has successfully proven his worth as arguably one of the greatest basketball players to ever live.

Jun 17, 2012; Miam, FL, USA; Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) and small forward LeBron James (6) during the third quarter in game three in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Dwyane Wade proved he could took a step back and Chris Bosh proved to be once again reliable in pressure situations. In the ideal of “proving” something, the ‘Big Three’ did what they had to do to get over the wall that stopped them in 2011. Only through key sacrifices and constant adjustments did those three finally achieve their objective of winning a title; only needing two years to do so.

All they need to prove this year is to show they can do it again. These three joined together for multiple titles. If they each wanted to win a title once in a while, they would have stayed in their previous environments, either struggling to make the Finals or to simply make the postseason. They have each  proven that leaving their teams was a success, with all three players benefiting immensely from the deals they made.

The Heat will be riding their ‘Big Three’ until the falls off, meaning that the organization would be looking at the role players to see if they can continue to hold their own as the perfect complement’s to Wade, James and Bosh. In order for this type of system to consistently work, all of the pieces need to be working, including the smaller pieces. Even though those pieces seem insignificant, they’re the main reason why the machine is as successful as it has been.

Where would the Heat be without the likes of Shane Battier, whose defensive fortitude and timely shooting came during the Heat’s most desperate hours? Or Mario Chalmers providing the team with consistent work on defense in the passing lane and leading the team in three-point shooting? Or even Norris Cole, whose up-tempo style will end up playing a key component in the Heat’s offense once he settles down?

The ‘Big Three’ are only three great players without the efforts of the supporting cast. Yes, we have seen the ‘Big Three’ nearly outscore entire opponents by themselves, but that is obviously not the key to winning a title. In order to make it as far as winning an NBA championship, help is obviously going to be needed from those whose names aren’t constantly in lights or featured on highlight reels.

They’re the cleanup crew, designed to be there when the ‘Big Three’ need them.

However, they always have something to prove, in order to earn a spot in the rotation. Miami is constantly looking for consistency on both ends of the floor and an acclimation to playing tough defense. With Ray Allen on the team now, last year’s role players will have to compete with each other in order to continue earning minutes. That goes for bench players like Mike Miller, Norris Cole and Shane Battier, and even starting point guard Mario Chalmers.

It definitely means trouble for the likes of James Jones, Terrel Harris (if he makes the team) and Joel Anthony, who is more hurt by the Rashard Lewis situation. Guys like Jones and Harris are going to have to do whatever they can to earn minutes, especially with the Heat being so critical on the defensive end. Harris fits better into that equation, but it could mean that this is possibly Jones’ final year with the team.

As much as Heat fans love to hear the PA announcement of a James Jones three-pointer, he doesn’t fit in when there are shooters like Allen, Lewis, Miller, Battier and Chalmers. All of those players contribute elsewhere on the floor. While Jones contributes as someone who can take a charge, he is a tremendous liability in one-on-one situations and isn’t near athletic enough to keep up on either end with the ‘Big Three’.

However, it would have been easy to guess that Jones would fall out of rotation this coming season, when he already did last year sans Allen and Lewis on the squad.

No, the player with the most to prove would be Mario Chalmers.

First off, let’s start by apologizing directly to Mario for all we have ever said of him and thanking him for playing such a huge part in the Heat winning a title, specifically speaking Game 4. You have to love Chalmers tenacity; the guy plays his heart out every game, gets yelled at by his teammates nearly the entire team and still has the confidence to take any big shot that comes his way. You could never have too much confidence, especially on this Heat team that embraces and thrives on it.

The organization invested a  lot of patience and time into Mario and were happy to see their gamble pay off by keeping him for the 2011-’12 season, despite two consecutive off seasons. After a rookie year where he averaged 10 points, 4.9 assists and 2 steals, while starting all 82 games, the Heat were, needless to say, disappointed when Mario’s numbers dipped across the board and he ended up averaging only 7.1 points and 3.4 assists.

He’d only average 6.4 points on sub-40 percent shooting the next season. Somehow, Miami decided to keep him on after he gave a solid performance in the playoffs, in turn allowing Mike Bibby to leave the team forever. Chalmers lost his starting job those two seasons, but regained it last year starting in all 64 games he payed in.

In return, Chalmers had an excellent campaign; averaging 9.8 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per, while leading the team in three-point percentage at 39 percent–a career high for Mario. He ended up averaging 11.3 points and 3.9 assists per while shooting 36 percent from deep in the postseason, where he ended up playing nearly 36 minutes per.

Now the Heat will be expecting more from Mario. They’ve seen the flashes of brilliance in performance’s like Game 4 against Oklahoma City and Game 3 against Indiana and the organization wants to see more of it. They want to make sure this wasn’t a fluke season, which is similar to what happened in his rookie year that was followed up by two abysmal seasons. Miami wants to begin seeing consistency and that confidence of his to transcend over an offseason.

Miami has Norris Cole to make sure Mario stays motivated, since he’s usually worked well when he’s receiving pressure from a possible starter off the bench. It’s doubtful that they would bench Chalmers, a move that would damage his confidence and rhythm, but the thought is always there and that keeps Mario on his toes and ready to perform to the expectations of his teammates.

With Ray Allen set to take minutes at the guard and small forward positions, Chalmers will need to be at his best in order to keep receiving significant minutes in the rotation.

 

Topics: Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat

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