Udonis Haslem reveals Heat’s biggest need this offseason

Haslem has been bringing some solid takes to a nationally televised stage as an analyst, and recently floated an idea that could make the Miami Heat compete with the top teams in the league.
2023 NBA Finals - Game Two
2023 NBA Finals - Game Two / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Former 20-year Miami Heat veteran and captain Udonis Haslem has been staying busy post-retirement. Haslem hung it up following the team’s NBA Finals run a year ago, which paved a way for numerous ventures following his playing days. Most notably, he runs the rising ‘OG’s’ podcast with co-host and former teammate Mike Miller.

But Haslem has also been involved with some analyst work for several media outlets, including the likes of ESPN and NBA TV. Recently, he made an appearance on the Stephen A. Smith Show. He covered several basketball-related topics, but what stuck out the most was an underrated take on something that can help improve the Heat’s roster.

Smith mentioned a notion that Miami needs a true big man in order to have a bounce-back season; a statement that Haslem was on the same page with. 

"I agree, and Bam (Adebayo) knows the center role is one he can play, but there’s another role he can play as power forward and be his best version."

(Haslem via Stephen A. Smith Show)

For the most part, Haslem has had some pretty impressive and intelligent takes while being on air. In addition to his authentic personality, he has a lot of in-depth basketball knowledge. In fact, pairing Adebayo with a real big man presence in the frontcourt has been an intriguing possibility for quite some time.

Over the course of Adebayo’s emergence in this league, it seems like the Heat have only paired him with undersized power forwards. Small ball is something that has worked in coach Erik Spoelstra’s system for quite some time now. Miami has had success with guys like Jae Crowder, PJ Tucker and Kevin Love alongside Adebayo and Butler in playoff starting units. 

However, none of those guys have ever been bigger height-wise than 6-foot-8 (Love). 

This past season, Spoelstra experimented with the Nikola Jovic/Adebayo pairing. It showed a lot of promise, with Jovic taking some positive steps in his development and earning a starting role in the playoffs. The length and versatility Jovic made it easier for Adebayo on both ends to play more freely, especially on defense, but young Niko is not a center.

To Haslem's point, a true center can make Adebayo a full-time power forward. This would allow him to take more leaps on offense; possibly shooting more 3-pointers to spread the floor and have more scoring run through him. Adebayo shot a career-high 35.7% from long range this season.

He also wouldn’t have to always be assigned to the opposing team’s best big on defense. Adebayo’s own length, wingspan and athletic ability could wreak havoc on the perimeter.

What options do the Miami Heat have this offseason to find a new starting center?

Does using the 15th overall selection in this week's draft on Zach Edey help? ESPN listed an Edey/Miami pairing in their latest mock draft.

Edey averaged 25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 blocks on 62.3% shooting, 50% from 3-point range in his college senior season at Purdue. Although the Heat and Adebayo could use some size, they still need functional size. Edey’s athletic ability is something that has been questioned by draft analysts.

There could also be the possibility of beefing up the frontcourt from free agency or the trade market over the summer. A name that has surfaced in reports is Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez.

Lopez averaged 12.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks while shooting 36.6% on threes this season. Lopez brings the true size Haslem is vouching for along with championship experience. His ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim brings a dynamic the Heat have never had next to Adebayo. 

It is unclear if the front office holds the same stance as Haslem, but his take makes a lot of sense.

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