Shootaround: Finding the Perfect Heat Teammate


Wes Goldberg: The Heat lost LeBron James but they don’t fall into the rebuild that most teams fall into when losing an All-NBA player. Instead, Pat Riley re-signed Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, got Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts and put together a contender in the East. However, a LeBron-shaped hole still exists on the roster. Here at All U Can Heat, we chose one NBA player, regardless of salary cap implications (and not including LeBron), who would be the perfect fit on the current version of the Miami Heat. 

Picking Kevin Durant here makes too much sense. Miami lost the best player in the league, who plays small forward, and replaces him with the second-best player in the league who also plays small forward. Like LeBron, Durant can also carry the offense and play skillful defense on the perimeter. Replacing LeBron with KD ensures that the Heat don’t take a drastic step back and makes them immediate contenders.

Screw that. Because last season, LeBron couldn’t carry the offense all the way to a title. Durant wouldn’t either, not on this Heat team.

Instead, I’ll combine this exercise with my pipe dream of getting Marc Gasol in a Heat uniform. In picking any player in the league, the Heat need to address a position of weakness. Miami has a Luol Deng at small forward, and that will do just fine. Last season, LeBron roughly averaged a 27-6-7 while Deng averaged 16-3-6. LBJ is getting the max deal this season and Deng is making about $10 million. I’ll take 60 percent of the production for 43 percent of the cost.

That leaves point guard and center as positions of need. Dwyane Wade has sacrificed enough, I don’t need him to give up his role as the alpha dog in the back court (one thing he has never sacrificed in his career). I’ll take Wade, a future Hall-Of-Famer, third best shooting guard of all time, and whatever he can give me along with playing the hot hand out of the three versatile scorers Chalmers, Cole and Napier.

Adding Gasol not only turns a position of need into a strength, but also answers Miami’s biggest question heading into next season: Can Chris Bosh be the No. 1 scoring option AND play center?

Having Gasol moves Bosh to the 4, freeing CB from his banging-with-0ther-centers shackles. It also replaces LeBron’s post presence, allowing the Heat to continue playing inside-out and, with Gasol the Younger, you don’t need a point guard to facilitate because he can do it all from the high or low post.

Gasol answers all of the Heat’s questions. Oh, and he is a free agent next season.

May 1, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard

Stephen Curry

(30) attempts a shot against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second quarter in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

David Ramil: Re-signing Mario Chalmers is a “feel-good” story this off-season, providing a bit of continuity to help the Heat transition to the post-LeBron era. But I think we’ve seen everything (the good, the bad, and the wildly inconsistent) we can from Rio and it isn’t enough to take this team to the next level. Given that we need a point guard, I think the best fit for Miami would be Steph Curry.

Curry is one of the game’s best shooters and Miami’s roster is currently lacking this particular asset. A career 44 percent shooter from three-point range, he connected on 261 attempts last season – that would immediately solve our most glaring weakness.

If you look at our projected starting lineup, neither Dwyane Wade nor Luol Deng are consistent long-range shooters and Josh McRoberts shot a career-high 38 percent – simply put, the three-pointer isn’t a strength for them. However, they all have the athleticism to drive the paint, drawing defenders with them and leaving Curry wide open from long-range.

It worked for Miami last season and that was with Chalmers only shooting 37 percent. With Curry, it would be deadly.And while he’s known as a shooter, Curry is also quite good at setting up his teammates. He’s got a good dribble, can be a creative and willing passer and definitely draws the attention of at least one defender.

All that leads to some great open looks for teammates – the Heat would immediately become one of the most potent offenses in the game and a lot of fun to watch…kind of like what we’ve had over the last four years. He’s also a solid rebounder at his position (averaging 4.3 RPG last season) so he would be able to contribute in this capacity as well.

Ah…but if there’s a weakness in Curry’s game, it’s his defense, right? He’s a bit undersized (at 6’3″ and under 200 lbs.) so he can be backed down into the post by your bigger guards. But he has the lateral speed, quick hands and reflexes that should all translate to improved defense. Quite simply, it wasn’t always a point of emphasis during his career but in Miami, where “Heat Basketball” is practically defined by defense, you could bet that won’t be the case. I think that Erik Spoelstra would get more creative in his defensive schemes to erase Curry’s deficiencies and, with a motivated Wade, Deng and Chris Bosh to help, I don’t see it as a significant problem.

Adding Curry transforms this team into a balanced and younger unit, as well as a perennial title contender.

Feb 23, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls center

Joakim Noah

(13) dribbles the ball as Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) looks on in the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Smith: The perfect teammate in my eyes is Joakim Noah. Elite big men are hard to find in the NBA today but in my eyes Noah is exactly that.

He is the perfect teammate because of how versatile of a player he is on the floor, particularly on the defensive end. He is able to cover up weaknesses in team defense all by himself.

Offensively he is not quite as gifted but his unselfishness (and great passing ability) makes him a valuable player on that end as well.

As far as fitting in with the Heat goes, he’d be a perfect fit at the 5 which allows Bosh to move back to his natural 4 spot. Imagine having Bosh and Noah as the two big men on the court at the same time defensively?

May 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard

Russell Westbrook

(0) dunks over San Antonio Spurs forward

Kawhi Leonard

(2) during the first half in game five of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Posada: The easy answer would be Chris Paul, but I tend to over-think things. The Heat could use a dynamic playmaker who can run an offense, and either guy can fit that role. I’m going with Russell Westbrook, since he’s four years younger, plays with aggression on offense, and be the scoring threat Miami will need while Dwyane Wade misses 20 games. Yes, there are injury questions, yet CP3 has those same concerns.

But Westbrook is as fearless as they come, and would have no issues whatsoever to take a game over in the final minutes. Plus there won’t be a Kevin Durant that he has to be mindful of, so he’ll be able to do his thing. You can go to battle with a guy like Westbrook, contrary to what some people might think.