With free agency winding down, and the start of training camp around the corner, it’s almost time for the Heat begin their quest for a 3-peat. They will need to make some changes to see that come to fruition, as the rest of the conference has become better.
Last season, the Pacers forced the Heat to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals, despite having one of the worst benches in the league. This offseason they’ve added CJ Watson and Chris Copeland through Free Agency, and traded for Luis Scola to fortify their bench. Add that to the return of Danny Granger, and the Pacers are a legit threat to the Heat. The Bulls have former MVP Derrick Rose returning. The Nets have added Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and Andrei Kirilenko to a team that already had Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez.
Safe to say, the Heat won’t breeze through the East this season. With that being the case, here are some improvements they can make as individuals and as a team to see that they stay on top of the conference:
1.) Dwyane Wade has to become more reliable from the outside – Wade has never been known to be an outside shooter and his deficiency caused serious issues during the playoffs, as the spacing shrank the floor. A career 28% 3-point shooter, Wade could stand to benefit in more ways than one. In addition to adding another dynamic to his game, he could delay the inevitable loss in his bout with father time. He could take a page from LeBron James, who sought the guidance of Ray Allen in hopes of being a better jump shooter, and it worked to the tune of LeBron shooting 40% from the 3-point line. Wade would be smart to go the same route.
2.) Chris Bosh has to move closer to the basket – Bosh became somewhat of a liability to the offense in the Pacers and Spurs series, and it almost bit the Heat in the end. Both the Pacers and Spurs were DARING Bosh to shoot jumpers, and he obliged (and missed!) time and time again. While in Toronto, Bosh was their main post presence and he thrived in that role. In the “Pace and Space offense, Bosh became relegated to mid-range jump shooter to make space for LeBron, and he’s thrived in that for the most part, but Bosh can be just as effective in the post. With LeBron developing his post game, it may allow for Bosh to find his way closer to the basket again.
3.) The team as a whole has to rebound better – Rarely does a team that rebounds as poorly as Miami did win a championship. But they’ve done it twice in a row now. That speaks to their efficient offense and timely defensive stops. But having your leading rebounder at 8.0 RPG seems to be a problem, especially when that guy is primarily on the perimeter. The Heat are undersized as a team, and the rebounding deficits are a result. How can that be solved? By finding a way to add Greg Oden and his 7-foot frame. Rebounding and Defense have always been his best traits as a player. Perhaps with Oden, a more aggressive Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen, LeBron, and (occasionally) Wade, the Heat could make a significant upgrade on the boards.
4.) Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have to provide better point guard play – Chalmers, in all of his big game play, is an average point guard at best. His 3.5 APG was the worst among starting point guards (even though he’s not the primary ball handler) and his basketball IQ can be questioned at times. Norris Cole is an excellent on-ball defender and has greatly improved his outside shot. But his command of the offense and court vision has a great deal of improvement left.
With those upgrades and the luck of health, the Heat will still be the champions come next August as well.