Jun 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; A large screen displays the 2013 NBA champion logo inside the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Oden, The Miami Heat and Basketball Evolution

If you listen to the pundits, Greg Oden has narrowed his choice of teams down to somewhere between two and six. You’ve also learned that he will make his decision sometime between now and the end of the week. The smart money says he chooses the Heat on Tuesday.

But really, who knows? And really, why should we care?

Oden has played a total of a season’s-worth of games in his career, and hasn’t seen the NBA court since 2009.  One reason to care is that Oden to the Heat creates foaming-at-the-mouth potential for more historic basketball.

Over the past three years, the Miami Heat have ushered in a new era in basketball, something head coach Erik Spoelstra branded, position-less basketball.  Most of the broadcasting talent labelled it small ball. What it has been is a new direction in basketball.

Basically three amazingly talented players playing whatever position 1 through 5 that allowed for the best offensive and defensive match-ups. Basketball’s version of Steve Spurrier’s ‘fun n gun’ offense from his Gator days, if you will. This style has won the Heat back-to-back championships, and has them looking forwards to a chance at a third.

But wait. The Heat didn’t waltz to championship number two, so here come the pundits, experts and more than one troll (I’m talking to you Stephen A. Smith), claiming the Heat are weak going into 2013-2014.

Look at the Nets, throwing around HUGE dollars at really OLD guys in the hopes of buying their way into contention, vis-a-vis the New York Yankees. (NOTE: Nets rhymes with Mets, ’nuff said). And the Indiana Pacers adding front-line depth and point guard help. Rumor has it that Derrick Rose’s OB-GYN has even cleared him to play in 2013-2014.

All these improving teams in the East and the Heat have just stood pat. How ever are they going to make it to the finals again? Let’s put aside the fact that when Dwyane Wade played like Dwyane Wade these past playoffs, the Heat were close to unbeatable, and you know PANIC.

Okay, let’s not panic. The point is really important people think we need change here to win, so let’s give it to them. Bring on Greg Oden. Bring on the next evolution in Heat basketball — System-less ball.

The addition of a healthy Oden will allow the Heat not just the ability to match up with the big beasts of the East, but take it one size larger. Where last season a line-up with both Hibbert and West or Noah and Boozer or even Lopez and Garnett, would have given the Heat match-up problems, adding Oden may allow the Heat to ratchet up the pressure. Bringing in Oden and Chris Bosh or Chris Anderson gives the Heat an even size playing field. But even, well that’s just not good enough. What if the Heat played Oden with Anderson and Bosh and Wade with LeBron at the point? How do you match up with that line-up?

The great thing this experiment will give us is the flexibility to change styles of play with just a substitution here or there. The Big Three are amazing at playing whatever role they need, regardless of the supporting cast. The next evolution, small ball to standard five to five post up players to LeBron and the shooters, the choices are seemingly limitless.

It all hinges on a talented big man. Is Greg Oden the one?

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