Tuesday, March 17, 2009

O'Neal Gets Comfortable in Miami

Jermaine O'Neal might not be the player he was in Indiana, but he's surely shown that he hasn't disappeared off the face of the league just yet. It seems as though J.O. is beginning to get comfortable in Miami's system with his recent success over the stretch of a few games.

Jermaine has averaged 18 points per game over the course of the last five games (from Mar. 7 through 15). He has even recorded back-to-back 20+ point showings in the games versus the Jazz and 76ers. I think that it can be said that O'Neal is beginning to settle into Miami's system, offensively at least.

The next area where O'Neal needs to improve is in the rebounding department. Since being acquired on Feb. 13, he has only recorded two double-digit rebound performances and is averaging 5.8 rebounds per game. That's not what Miami was expecting from O'Neal when they went out to make the deal for him.

On the bright side, his defensive presence is still visible. Over the course of the 14 games he has played in Miami, J.O. has averaged 2.1 blocks a night and had a 5 block performance more recently versus the Jazz. There is no doubt that this has helped the team out on the defensive end compared to the previous dependency on Joel Anthony's defense.

To sum things up, the Heat are 8-6 since the arrival of Jermaine O'Neal and are fueling off the MVP caliber performance that Dwyane Wade has been showcasing in the past month or so. Jermaine may not be living up to the MSG Heat Index score that we had previously given him, but he is showing signs of improvement and may live up to our projections.

We expect Jermaine O'Neal to get better over the course of the remainder of the season. As long as he stays healthy and continues to progress in Erik Spoelstra's offensive and defensive sets, Miami fans should look forward to some good production out of #7.

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