Before the “Big Three” era there was a time when Udonis Haslem was Dwyane Wade’s sidekick, believe it or not.
Haslem was signed by the Miami Heat as an undrafted free agent in 2003. Ever since then, Haslem has become the Heat’s all-time leader in rebounds and is a three-time NBA champion. Pretty nice resumé if you ask me.
However, ever since Haslem’s role with the Heat has changed, his production has dropped off significantly.
When Chris Bosh arrived in South Beach in 2010, there was speculation that Haslem wasn’t going to be a Heat-lifer. Instead of taking lucrative deals that would’ve netted him more than $10 million more, Haslem decided to chase championships and re-sign with the Heat. After all, it did work out, but Haslem hasn’t looked like himself in a long time.
Last season, Haslem averaged a career-lows in points (3.8), rebounds (3.8) and minutes per game (14.2). He played in only 46 games and was a non-contrubtor in the playoffs last season. According to ESPN, Haslem’s PER of 10.57 was ranked 71st out of 79 qualified power forwards, his second-lowest of his career.
Shot Chart Courtesy of NylonCalculus
Pictured above is Haslem’s shot chart from last year. More than 60 percent of his shots came inside the paint and he rarely hit any of his mid-range jumpers. The following picture is Haslem’s shot chart from the 2009-10 season, before Bosh and company signed in Miami.
Shot chart courtesy of NylonCalculus
As you can see, Haslem was a much more balanced player. He was hitting his midrange jumpers consistently and also contributed inside the paint at a higher-clip. Of course, Haslem was a lot younger and wasn’t injury-prone at the time, but I honestly expected more from Haslem when the Big Three came into town.
Season Expectations and Projections
Regardless the departures of LeBron James, Rashard Lewis and Shane Battier, Haslem’s role will probably not change much. The Heat added versatile forward Josh McRoberts, who is expected to get a shot at the starting gig. They also signed Danny Granger, who could get some time playing power-forward in small-ball situations.
However, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Haslem could see some time playing alongside Chris Bosh in the starting lineup if projected starter, Josh McRoberts, misses some time due to a nagging toe injury.
"With this latest revelation of McRoberts missing more time than outsiders had anticipated, it could open the door for the Heat possibly to go with Chris Bosh and Shawne Williams or Udonis Haslem in the starting rotation."
Best case scenario, Haslem averages around 5 points and 5 boards per game and plays in 65-plus games. Worst case, he averages 2 points and 3 rebounds per game, playing in fewer than 50 games for the second year straight.
I have a lot of respect for Haslem. He’s stayed with the Heat through thick and thin and even took massive pay-cuts to win championships. However, at the end of the day, he’s just not the same player he was.
Don’t expect Haslem to improve this season. I believe the Heat brought him back mainly to be a locker-room presence and to be a mentor to younger players. It wouldn’t surprise me if Haslem is trying to take the Juwan Howard-type route–sticking around for a coaching gig.