Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beyond Miami's Triumvirate

October 21, 2010

We know more than enough about the Miami Heat's newly-formed triumvirate and what they are expected to contribute in a Heat uniform. In the most simplistic terms, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will take the brunt of scoring and play-making responsibilities, while Chris Bosh brings versatility at the power forward position. But what about their supporting cast? What are the team's role players expected to do en route to a championship season?

With the spotlight on Wade, James and Bosh there will be less attention paid to the Heat's remaining roster. However, their duties are no less important to Miami's goal of winning a title. In every championship team there are players that step up behind their stars and make a difference whether it's in a game, series or season. When Miami began constructing the roster around their three centerpieces they specifically sought players of this caliber. Let's take a deeper look at those players and their roles:

Name: Udonis Haslem
Role: Do the Dirty Work

In what will be his second consecutive season coming off the bench, Haslem will be challenged with being the leader of Miami's second unit. The Miami native has established his hometown reputation as a hustle-minded, hard worker on the the court. That is, he is man scoring put-back points, securing difficult rebounds over taller opponents, diving for loose balls and - most notably - taking tough charges. These are some of the efforts that define Haslem's identity and have elevated to a state of high praise by fans.

This season Miami will need the hard court warrior to step up once again. Stats will not matter as much as intangibles will with Haslem. He may not average a double-double every night (although he is definitely capable of doing so with ample minutes), but he will bring toughness and stability in crucial points of games. These are elements that differentiate a good team from a great team, and Haslem makes the Heat that much better. To prove his worth even more, Haslem made it a point to say he will give every effort to make teammate Chris Bosh a better player. Don't forget that he took less money to stay in South Florida and is highly motivated to play with his revamped squad.
    Names: Mike Miller, James Jones and Eddie House
    Role: Be Offensive Spark Plugs

    They'll have all day to shoot, that's almost a foregone conclusion. It will be up to them to drain those shots, stretch the court and boost Miami's offense. Each of these three guys can change the outlook of a game any given night with their gifted stroke and natural knack to score.

    Miller is the most versatile of the group with slightly better passing and defending skills than Jones and House. He's getting paid $30 million of five years to be more than just a shooter. Miller will likely get the most playing time alongside Wade, James and/or Bosh and should benefit the most from open shot opportunities. As a result, he will hold the greatest burden to produce and add the greatest impact on a regular basis. However, the pressure Miller faces will not be much greater than what he experiences in practice, going against number three or number six constantly.

    As for Jones and House, they will just need to put the ball in the basket for the most part. Both have the ability to catch fire and spark the Heat off the bench, and will be expected to do so on occasion. Their minutes will be restricted, but nonetheless they will still be tasked with keeping Miami in the lead or within striking distance while the Heat stars rest. Look out for House to be a major impact player once Miami reaches the playoffs (which is as safe an assumption as predicting the sun will rise tomorrow morning) just as he was with the Boston Celtics last season, taking over a game or two with offensively explosive performances.
      Name: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
      Role: Be a Versatile Big Man

      Big Z has never been known as a dominant, powerful center in the league. Never. But he's never had to in order to be successful. Ilgauskas' immense height and solid mid-range jumper has made him a versatile big man and forced opponents to change up defensive schemes. In Miami, that's the same role he will play.
      Bringing the chemistry he formed with LeBron in Cleveland, Big Z's transition to Miami should be seamless. Alongside Chris Bosh, Z can effectively contribute in what could become an unconventional Heat front court. That is, both will be able to shoot mid-range jumpers as well as cover significant ground on defense. The ultimate task for Z will be using his height and length to match-up versus the larger centers in the league. While shutdown defense isn't expected from him, Miami's disruptive defensive schemes will help Big Z face the league's most dominant big men. 

      Other Notable Role Players
      • Mario Chalmers - Role: Distribute the Ball & Force Turnovers
      • Carlos Arroyo - Role: Manage the Offense off Bench & Make Sound Decisions
      • Juwan Howard & Jamaal Magloire - Role: Use Big Bodies & Mentor Team
      • Joel Anthony - Role: Contest Shots & Get Blocks

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