Team Preview #30: Miami Heat
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilSeptember 14th, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Heat won 15 games and lost 67, matching their franchise-worst record from '88-89, their inaugural season in the NBA. Dwyane Wade played just 51 games at clearly less than 100% health, and Miami decided to trade Shaq for Shawn Marion.
As a team, they finished 24th in assists, 25th in FG%, 29th in FG attempts, 30th in rebounds, and 30th in scoring. It was a forgettable season to say the least.
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: Michael Beasley, James Jones, Mario Chalmers, Y. Diawara, J. Magloire
Key Losses: Ricky Davis, Jason Williams, Earl Barron
With the #2 pick in the draft, Miami went with All-American forward Michael Beasley, who was simply dominant at the college level. It may take him awhile to adjust to the NBA, but he's an impressive talent with a bright future. They also added Kansas point guard Mario Chalmers, who joins Carlos Boozer as the only NBA players born in Alaska. Chalmers is limited by his athleticism and playmaking abilities, but he's an outstanding 3-point shooter and a solid defender.
Speaking of sweet outside shooters, Miami also signed free agent forward James Jones, who was born in Miami and starred at Miami University. At 27 years old, he's in his prime, and since the Heat are desperate for 3-point shooting, this move makes a lot of sense. Jones will replace the scoring punch of Ricky Davis, who (along with Jay-Will) signed with the Clippers. At shooting guard, Miami improved their depth by adding defensive standout Yakhouba Diawara. They also signed veteran center Jamaal Magloire, who is a nice upgrade over the Italy-bound Earl Barron. Meanwhile, Miami also managed to re-sign Chris Quinn & Dorell Wright, two key players from last season. Overall, their team should be much better in '08-09.
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMEMiami's success hinges on the health of Dwyane Wade, and after watching him play in the Olympics, how can you not be optimistic? If the Heat can get 38 minutes x 75 healthy games out of him, they'll be very happy. Daequan Cook didn't impress me as a rookie, so I think Diawara will be Wade's primary backup. At point guard, there's a 3-way battle for minutes between Chris Quinn (25 starts, 22.4 mpg last season), Marcus Banks (2 starts, 21.6 mpg in 12 games for Miami), and the rookie Chalmers. I've seen several sites list Banks as the starter, but I'm not buying that one bit. Quinn may start on opening night thanks to his experience advantage, but I'm quite confident that Chalmers will take over at some point. Once the rookie gets comfortable, he'll be a great complement to Wade. Meanwhile, Banks will be lucky to get more than 12 mpg.
The frontcourt is much more of a question mark. Both Udonis Haslem & Shawn Marion have been mentioned in trade rumors, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see either one moved. But since a trade doesn't seem imminent, let's focus on their current rotation. Marion & Beasley are the likely starting forwards, while Mark Blount starts at center and Haslem is the first big man off the bench. I could see Udonis starting against smaller centers, but he'll get more minutes than Blount regardless. To start the season, I'm projecting 36-38 minutes for Marion, 28-30 minutes each for Beasley & Haslem, and 22-24 minutes for Blount. I see James Jones earning 18+ minutes thanks to his outside shooting, and Magloire playing 8-12 minutes as the backup center. I still like Dorell Wright's defense & athleticism, but he'll likely be limited to garbage time until someone gets hurt.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Mario ChalmersSuper Mario AKA Mario C. (not to be confused with Mario Caldato Jr.) is one of my favorite "last round" point guard picks. Unlike 19-year olds Derrick Rose & Russell Westbrook, 22-year old Mario Chalmers played 3 seasons of college basketball. He also led Kansas to an NCAA title and was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after hitting a three with 2.1 seconds left in the title game to force overtime. So he's got experience and has proven that he can knock down clutch shots and win games.
He's also proven that he can rack up steals. Chalmers led the Big 12 in thefts in all 3 of his seasons at Kansas (2.6 per game for his CAREER) and was named the co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year this past season. He's also a superb outside shooter, a skill that Miami could really use. He improved his 3P% every year at Kansas (37.5% to 40.4% to 46.8%), and as a result, he ranked in the top 10 in the nation in True Shooting percentage with a blistering 66%.
He isn't considered an excellent playmaker, but he takes care of the rock, as evidenced by his rock solid 2.25 assist/ turnover ratio. Chris Quinn & Marcus Banks have more experience, but Chalmers is the one who's going to emerge and have fantasy value. So on draft day, try to convince everyone else that Quinn & Banks are the players to own, while you quietly let Mario fall to you in the last round.
BE CAREFUL OF: Shawn Marion & Udonis HaslemDon't get me wrong, Shawn Marion is still a legit 1st round pick. But if you're thinking of taking him at #5, I suggest you be very careful. For starters, let's examine his FG%. In 47 games for Phoenix last year, he shot 52.6% FG. In the 2 seasons prior he shot 52.4% FG and 52.5% FG... consistently rock solid. But after being traded to Miami, Marion shot just 45.9% FG in 16 games. Yes, that's a small sample size, but if you go back to '03-04 and earlier (i.e. pre-Nash & D'Antoni), Shawn's FG% hovered in the 44-48% range. Clearly, running and gunning with Nash & company helped out his FG% quite a bit.
And then there's Marion's FT%, which inexplicably dropped to 70.7% last season. In the 8 seasons prior, he had NEVER shot below 80% from the line, so this decline came out of nowhere. You could chalk it up to him wanting out of Phoenix and not having a clear head before & after the trade, but even that is cause for concern, because the Matrix's name has been involved in several trade rumors recently. Could the uncertainty of a possible trade affect him for the 2nd year in a row?
Marion's best statistical season probably came in '05-06, when he averaged a career-high 21.8 points, 11.9 boards, and 1.7 blocks. But that was the year Amare Stoudemire barely played, hence the increased production. With a healthy Dwyane Wade taking nearly 20 shots per game, there's no way Marion will average 20+ ppg, and with Haslem & Beasley crashing the glass, the chances of him averaging 11+ boards are slim to none. That makes the Matrix a very risky Top 5 pick if you ask me.
I'm normally a fan of Udonis Haslem. He does all of the dirty work, doesn't complain, knocks down open jumpers, and has a sweet touch from the line (81% FT last season). I even drafted him last year, expecting a healthy stat increase across the board. Sure enough, he reached career-high levels in most categories, but that's mainly because he played 36.8 minutes per game, well above his previous high of 33.4 mpg. Michael Beasley averaged a whopping 15.7 rebounds per 40 minutes in college and is a much more versatile offensive player, so Haslem's minutes and boards are sure to fall. Unless Haslem gets traded to a team that really needs him, he'll struggle to have value this season.
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)