Miami Heat Season Preview

19 10 2008

My NBA South East Division preview begins with the Miami Heat:

Miami Heat

2007-08 Standings 15 – 67, 15th Eastern Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 42 – 40, 2nd South East Division, 7th Eastern Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Mark Blount, Michael Beasley, Shawn Marion, Dwayne Wade, Marcus Banks

Sixth Man:  Udonis Haslem

A healthy Dwayne Wade is crucial for the Miami Heat's chances in 2008/09.

A healthy Dwayne Wade is crucial for the Miami Heat in the upcoming season.

Last year the Miami Heat were shockingly bad. They scraped their way to 15 wins and it seemed lucky that they made that many. Yet it was only two years ago that they won the NBA title. Their fall is a reminder that a team built to win a title can just as easily slide into mediocrity with the rapid aging of key players and a few nasty injuries.

However with a terrible season comes a high draft pick and the Heat scored big with the second pick in the draft. They selected Michael Beasley, a supremely gifted young forward with a great inside outside game and a winning attitude. He has displayed immaturity at times and it will be interesting to see how team boss, Pat Riley, copes with Beasley’s quirks.

The Heat are also blessed with one of the best players in the NBA. When he is healthy Dwayne Wade is nigh on unstoppable. The only thing he lacks is a reliable three point shot. However the healthy part is what is crucial. Wade has only played 51 games in each of the last two seasons and he played hurt in many of the games he did play in. if he is healthy for a full season then the Heat will rebound back up the rankings.

The third player in Miami’s big three is Shawn Marion. Marion is a multi skilled All Star capable of playing both forward positions. He is a highly talented defender and a capable outside shooter, albeit with the ugliest stroke in the NBA. Marion was acquired midseason by the Heat along with Marcus Banks in exchange for Shaquille O’Neal. The trade freed the Heat of Shaq’s humongous contract and they get to see whether Marion is worth offering an extension to. His contract expires at the end of this season and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Marion traded before the deadline. A good fit might be with the LA Lakers with the Heat getting back former player Lamar Odom.

Udonis Haslem is the pick of the remaining players. He is a capable forward who plays his best basketball as a supporting player beside a dominant front court player.

The remainder of the players are NBA journeymen who the Heat will be hoping can play above themselves.

The Heat did make one intriguing offseason signing. They signed Shaun Livingston, a player who suffered a terrible injury a couple of years ago. Before the injury he was one of the more intriguing young players. He seemingly possessed limitless potential and it will be interesting to see how he comes back from his injury layoff. If he can recapture some of his former quickness and skills the Heat will be extremely dangerous.   

Coach:

The Miami Heat coach is first year Head Coach Erik Spoelstra. He has been with the Heat organisation for 14 years so the players should be used to him. Being Head Coach is different to other roles however and how he copes will be key to the Heat.

Bench:

The Heat bench has a number of promising youngsters on it. Daequan Cook, Dorell Wright and Mario Chalmers all have skill and ability but can they take their games to the next level?

Star Player:

When fit Dwayne Wade is a top 5 talent in the NBA. He is explosive offensively, basing his game on getting to the hoop and subsequently to the line. He is also a capable defender, able to play lockdown defence from time to time. He already has one title with the Heat. Will he get more?

Team MVP:

How quickly Michael Beasley adjusts to the NBA will be crucial for the Heat’s chances. He has the talent but can he cope with the constant abuse his body will take from NBA defenders?

Final Prognosis:

The Miami Heat should qualify for the playoffs this season. With Wade, Marion and Beasley they have one of the best trios in the NBA. The key will be keeping them healthy and getting regular production from the remainder of the team.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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