Thursday, January 29, 2009

Centers of Attention - Which Big Men do the Heat Have Their Eyes On?

A report by ESPN's sport columnist, Chad Ford, revealed the trading block rumors that have been swirling around the league in regards to the Center and Power Forward positions. With the Miami Heat in serious need of a longer, more dominant Center to grab the reigns of their 5 spot, they have been mentioned on many occasions throughout the report. Each individual was labeled with the chance (%) they would likely be traded before the trade deadline, according to ESPN. Here's a list of the prospective players that have been on Pat Riley's mind:
  1. Jermaine O'Neal - Toronto Raptors (60%)
  2. Brad Miller - Sacramento Kings (45%)
  3. Elton Brand - Philadelphia 76ers (20%)
*Other players were mentioned in the report, but were not specifically associated with the Miami Heat's interest, including:
  • Marcus Camby - Los Angeles Clippers (55%)
  • Carlos Boozer - Utah Jazz (25%)
  • Amare Stoudemire - Phoenix Suns (10%)
  • Chris Bosh - Toronto Raptors (5%)
I my opinion, all of the aforementioned players are viable options for the Miami Heat. The top three players that I believe would bring the greatest impact are Jermaine O'Neal, Elton Brand, or Marcus Camby. With Pat Riley's trading expertise (let's not forget the Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Noeal blockbuster trades), the possibility of attaining any of these three players is more than likely. The Miami Heat has historically strived when a dominant center is placed at the heart of the team's roster, so this would likely be a great move for the organization.

Let's speculate what the impact of Jermaine O'Neal, Brad Miller, Elton Brand, and Marcus Camby could bring to an up-and-coming Miami Heat team.

Jermaine O'Neal, if healthy, can bring an instant inside presence to the Heat and can begin to assist Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, and Jamaal Magloire on the blocked shots and rebounds department. He's been able to be a very consistent and productive big man throughout his career, especially during his tenure with the Indiana Pacers. For his career he's averaging 14.3 points per game (ppg), 7.7 rebounds per game (rpg), and 1.9 blocked shots per game (blk). His statistics with the Raptors aren't much different than those numbers.

Brad Miller has been known for his blue-collar work with the Sacramento Kings. He's not really considered a "dominant big man," but has shown that he can hold his own versus other league giants. His rebounding ability would be a big plus for the Heat, as well as his versatility (good hands, smart vision, and mid-range jump shot). Acquiring him would definitely be an upgrade, but I'm unsure if he will be the long-term solution for Pat Riley and the Heat. He's averaged 12.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, and 3 assists per game (ast) - which goes back to his good hands and vision. This season he's averaged 12 ppg, 8.1 rpg, and 3.5 ast with the Kings; slightly better than his career average.

Elton Brand has been a player of interest to Pat Riley for some time now. Before he was shipped off to Philadelphia, the Miami Heat organization was vying for him to come to Miami, but we all know how that ended. One season later, Brand's back in the trade talks and Riley's back in the strategy room to see if we can add some height, dominance, and presence to the Heat. Brand has been a fairly prolific scorer at times and has had an uncanny ability to reel in some tough rebounds. Adding him to the roster would be a breath of fresh air and will facilitate the Heat's new run-and-gun style, implemented under Erik Spoelstra. His career averages are 20.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2 blks, which statistically puts him ahead of the other prospective Centers. The bad part is that his numbers have declined a bit in Philadelphia (14.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, and 1.6 blk).

Marcus Camby can be a great fit in Miami with his experience in Denver with George Karl's high octane offense. Amidst the focus on Denver's offense, Camby was able to secure an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award by dominating on the defensive end of the court. He reminds me a bit of Alonzo Mourning with his defensive-minded style of play, which can be really effective next to Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley, and company. His career statistics show that he averaged 10.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, and 2.6 blk. Fortunately, his numbers have increased in L.A. and have grown to 12.1 ppg and 13.6 rpg, with the blocks staying virtually equal.

As the trade deadline approaches, more talk will emerge regarding these trade rumors and we will be painted a clearer picture as to what direction the Miami Heat are going to take. Will they finally deal Marion before February 19th o will they wait until the off-season to make a move? Tune in and watch as this story unravels.

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