While the 2012-13 Miami Heat roster as a whole is not yet set in stone, we do have a pretty good idea of what the team will look like this season. The last couple of rotation spots are still up for grabs as we are approaching training camp, but let’s take a look at how the team has changed ever since the “Big 3″ signed in 2010.
When James, Wade and Bosh all signed for the Heat in 2010, it was obvious that it would be a difficult challenge to build around them with the little cap space that remained. Mike Miller was brought in, while Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, James Jones and Mario Chalmers all remained on the roster. The team needed some size but had little money to spend and signed 3 veteran bigs in Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier and Juwan Howard. Carlos Arroyo was the starting point-guard for a while during the season, while veteran guard Mike Bibby was brought in later on.
Despite having 3 amazing players, the team had a lot of flaws. James Jones, Mike Miller and Eddie House were decent options when it came to spreading the floor and knocking down shots, and the team shot 37% from 3-point range, ranking 7th in the league. But the team’s offense was still very dependant on the creativity of the big 3, as the team ranked 26th in the league in assists. The team also lacked that aggressive and pesky defense we have grown accustomed to seeing, and ranked only 26th in steals.
The most impactful signing of the off-season was definitely Shane Battier. The Heat became a lot more versatile adding Battier as they now had a player who could knock down shots, and defend multiple positions on the other end. Miami drafted a quick and energetic point-guard in Norris Cole who served as a solid backup for Mario Chalmers, who took a big step forward himself. This season the Heat would develop a new identity. Ilgauskas and Dampier left the team as they weren’t particularly effective, and the team spent a lot of the regular season experimenting with small lineups. Ronny Turiaf, Dexter Pittman and Joel Anthony all played during stretches, but the team found most success when Chris Bosh played at the 5. With Mike Miller battling injury, the 3-point percentage for the Heat went down. Thanks to playing small lineups, the Heat excelled in the fast break, getting more steals than the previous season, despite playing 16 games less in the condensed season. The team ranked 3rd in the league in steals.
Obviously the biggest change in this off-season is the arrival of the all-time greatest 3-point shooter in Ray Allen and another sharp-shooter in Rashard Lewis. With the arrival of these two players the Heat has clearly decided to stick to their small-ball identity. Miami will undoubtedly be more lethal than ever from 3-point range, and should be very scary on offense this season. Chris Bosh is most likely going to play major minutes at center, and having developed 3-point range to his game, he will open up driving lanes for James and Wade. Rashard Lewis might not be that quick but will also be able to spread the floor at the 4 spot. The Heat got a name for themselves last season for great defense, but with these additions it is hard not to see the team take a step back defensively. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis will both change the offense for the better, but will mostly be liabilities on defense. The team still has great defenders in almost every position, and it will be interesting to see what kind of rotation Erik Spoelstra establishes in order to find the perfect balance.
The Heat were a below average rebounding team last season, and we can expect to see an even further dip in that category. Despite that the team managed to get deeper and more versatile, adding solid perimeter players. Dwyane Wade battled injury throughout last season, and he will now be able to cut down on minutes in order to be fresh for the playoffs. Miami Heat was probably the most interesting team to watch last season, and with these off-season additions the fans will definitely get their money’s worth attending the games, or watching them on television.