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2008 Miami Heat Preview

John Stravino

John Stravino

John Stravino writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.


MIAMI HEAT
By John Stravino
RotoWire Writer



STATE OF THE FRANSHISE



Just two years removed from its first NBA Championship, the Heat finished the 2007-08 season with a league-worst record of 15-67. Even with the league's worst record, Pat Riley and company watched the ping pong balls fall Chicago's way in last May's draft lottery; Miami settled for the second pick. Add the shocking trade of Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for forward Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks into the mix and it was a season of disappointment and most of all, change.


But sometimes change can be good. The Heat are now led by new head coach Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra, a former assistant coach with the Heat, takes over a team with a lot of youth; as the youngest head coach in the NBA, he can relate. The Heat also add two promising rookies, second overall pick Michael Beasley and guard Mario Chalmers. Free Agents Jamaal Magloire and James Jones bring veteran leadership and experience.


But the two players to lead the Heat this season are Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion. Wade, coming off of an injury plagued season, will look to reclaim his status as one of the best guards in the game today. And Marion, who has been one of the best forwards in the game, starts his first full season is Miami after nine seasons with Phoenix.

PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION



Three things are known for sure. Dwyane Wade, if healthy, will play close to 40 minutes per game at guard. The same can be said for forward Shawn Marion, who has a career average of 37.8 minutes per game. It also seems like a safe bet that rookie forward Michael Beasley will start the season in the starting lineup and should see significant playing time throughout the season. After the big three, things become a little less predictable.


At center, the Heat will play Mark Blount and Jamaal Magloire, while waiting to see if Alonzo Mourning decides to give it a go for one more season. The Heat have a lot more depth at the forward position than at center with Udonis Haslem, DorellWright, and James Jones. With the depth at forward we could see a smaller lineup on the floor more often, with Beasley, Marion, and Haslem on the floor at the same time. We expect Haslem to average 30 minutes per game, while Wright and Jones play somewhere in the 20-25 minute range.


As with the center spot, there are many questions in the backcourt. Wade will play major minutes, we know that much, but who will be playing next to him? Guard Chris Quinn started 25 games last season and saw plenty of time on the floor last season once Wade went down. Rookie guard Mario Chalmers should see time at guard as well for the Heat as he brings experience after 3 seasons with the Kansas Jayhawks. Second year guard Daequan Cook should also see his playing time rise after averaging 24 minutes per game a year ago. Our best guess, Quinn gets the start alongside Wade, but at some point during the season Chalmers takes over the majority of the minutes with Cook being the first guard off the bench.



PLAYER OUTLOOKS



Center




Mark Blount: You would think someone 7 feet tall would put up huge numbers, especially on the glass. Well that is not the case with Blount. His career rebounding average of 4.7 boards per game is less than impressive. Not to mention his less than a block per game average. The good news here is that the Heat are not all that deep at Center, and with the return of Alonzo Mourning still in question, somebody has to patrol the paint. Best case, Mourning decides to retire and Blount gets the majority of the starts at center and puts up stats similar to what he has done throughout his career.



Jamaal Magloire: Now with his fifth team in as many seasons, Magloire looks to regain his form on the floor. With Mark Blount under-performing and Udonis Haslem much too undersized to play consistent minutes at the center position, there could be minutes for Magloire in the middle. Will he post a season like 2003-2004 where he averaged 13.6 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game, probably not, so expect him to be strictly a role player.



Forward



Michael Beasley: Beasley, as a freshman at Kansas State ranked third in the nation in scoring with 26.2 points per game and averaged a NCAA Division I high of 12.4 rebounds per game. Throw in a .532 field goal percentage, a. 379 three point percentage, and a 1.6 block per game average and you have a complete player who will give the Heat a forward to play alongside Shawn Marion for years. It will be interesting to see if Beasley is playing more as a three rather than a four. It might take him a few weeks to get adjusted to the pro game and to work on his low post scoring, but when he does you have a complete player should be drafted early and owned in all formats.



Shawn Marion: After being traded from Phoenix in the blockbuster trade for Shaquille O'Neal last February, Marion played well in 33 games for the Heat. Now starting his first full season in Miami, expect much of the same from "The Matrix". Marion can score, rebound, and even adds 2 steals and assists per game. Throw in a block a game, and very good career field goal percentage of .481, and you have a solid all-around forward for your fantasy team, who year after year fills up a stat sheet. Heck, even with that funky shooting style, he shoots a respectable .341 from downtown. Marion has been a first round pick in many drafts for years and I see no reason why that trend should not continue.



Udonis Haslem: At 6-8, Haslem is an undersized power forward but you would not be able to tell by the solid numbers he puts up. Last season, Haslem scored a career high 12 points per game and a solid 9.0 rebounds per game, while playing a career high 36.8 minutes per game in 49 games. We would still like to see a few more blocks than the 0.3 career blocks per game average at the forward position. Will Haslem carry your fantasy team? No, but he will not hurt it either.



Dorell Wright: Wright is a wild card for the Heat. Like pretty much everyone else playing in South Beach last season, he missed a significant amount of games last season -- 38 to be exact. But when he did play he posted career highs in minutes per game with 25.1, points per game with 7.9, and saw his steals, rebounds and blocks increase from the previous season. The thing we love about Wright is that season to season his stats increase across the board in virtually every statistical category. Watch his stats closely early on this season as his performance on the floor will dictate just how much he plays. At his best, Wright will not score a ton of points for your fantasy team, but could be someone who could fill up a box score at the end of the night.



James Jones: Signed as a free agent in the off-season from the Trailblazers, Jones joins a crowded Miami front court. James can shoot the ball from behind the arc with a career .399 three point percentage and from the line with a career .865 free throw percentage. On this team he's probably nothing more than a role player.

Guard



Dwyane Wade: The real key to this team is the play -- and health -- of Dwyane Wade. Wade has missed 31 games the past two seasons due to a dislocated left shoulder and problems with his left knee. But if you watched the "Redeemed Team" in Beijing, Wade seemed to put any injury concerns to rest, leading Team USA with 16.0 points per game. Wade shot a blistering .671 from the field and .471 from behind the arc while averaging over 2 steals per game playing 18.8 minutes per game as the teams sixth man. The only down side in his game are turnovers -- close to four per game. Still, when healthy Wade is one of the league's best players and should be no less than a second round pick in most formats.


Mario Chalmers: A second round draft pick out of Kansas, Chalmers brings an up-tempo style of play to the Heat. Chalmers shoots very well from the perimeter, plays excellent defense, and racks up steals and assists -- his defensive ability is what will get him minutes initially. Look for Chalmers' role so increase as the season progresses.



Daequan Cook: A rookie from Ohio State a year ago, Cook saw his minutes increase when Dwyane Wade went down for the season. He can shoot the ball and should get a few more looks from three with a healthy Dwyane Wade and the addition of Michael Beasley. Cook could emerge as a sixth man type of player for the Heat -- should look to him for instant offense off the bench.



Chris Quinn: Quinn, like Cook, thrived with Wade out of the lineup. Quinn averaged 5.4 assists per game over the final 20 games of the season while averaging close to 13 points per in that same stretch. I would question how productive he will be with Wade back in the lineup, but Quinn is a natural point guard so that could keep him involved and in the rotation off the bench.



Marcus Banks: With Chalmers, Cook, Quinn in the fold, Banks could be the odd man out in the Heat back court. It seems unlikely that he'll play a significant role unless one of the other guards is injured or Chalmers takes longer than expected to develop.



SLEEPER:



Mario Chalmers: Chalmers will probably go undrafted in many leagues, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take a look. With no guaranteed sidekick for Dwyane Wade set, the combo guard could be the guy. He defends exceptionally well, has a strong shoot from the perimeter, and after watching him in the NCAA tournament last March, it's pretty obvious that the rookie can flat-out play.


BUST:



Mark Blount: The good news about Blount is that he has center eligibility and not much competition ahead of him for minutes at that position. The bad news, I would like a center on my fantasy team to grab a few more boards and swat more shots. The arrival of Michael Beasley may move Udonis Haslem into the Center position against smaller lineups, which would hurt Blount's minutes.


Article first appeared on 9/25/08

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