Culture of Hoops

2013-14 NBA Season Preview: Miami Heat

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Most Important Player: Who else? LeBron James.

X-Factor: Greg Oden
This is an interesting piece for the Miami Heat. Three years removed from NBA service due to knee problems, Oden could be poised to help the squad. Since the formation of the Big Three, the team’s main problem has been a lack of size, which Oden could help if healthy. It’s a low-risk, high-reward pickup for the back-to-back defending champions.

Rotations: The Heat return last year’s starting lineup: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, point guard Mario Chalmers and power forward Udonis Haslem. The bench is led by the NBA career leader in three-pointers, Ray Allen, third-year point Norris Cole, and a defensive mastermind and sharp shooter in Shane Battier. Chris “Birdman” Andersen and the aforementioned Oden round out a stout bench as strong defenders and rebounders in the paint. The real wild card of the Heat bench is Michael Beasley, who could play anywhere from mop-up minutes to 25-30 minutes a game.

What Needs To Go Right: Dwyane Wade needs to be healthy. The veteran shooting guard has struggled with lingering knee soreness over the last few seasons. While LeBron can singlehandedly pick up the slack from having no Wade, it could come back to bite the team.

It’s Really Bad If: They don’t perform up to the standards they’ve set the last few seasons in the playoffs. With the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets both adding pieces and the Chicago Bulls getting Derrick Rose back, the top half of the Eastern Conference will be much more of a challenge. Not to mention the moves that have been made by teams in the Western Conference. The Heat are clearly still favorites, but this might be their most challenging playoff field yet.

Bold Prediction: The Heat don’t get the one-seed in the playoffs. They might be willing to rest Wade more this season to protect him from aggravating previous injuries, much like the San Antonio Spurs have done in recent years with their own aging stars. With Wade out for a significant portion of the season, a healthy Pacers or Bulls team could squad sneak up on them.


Ray Allen, SG
Strengths: Three-point shooting.
Weaknesses: Has lost a step, defense.
Season Prediction: Allen is entering his second season in sunny South Florida and looking to win his third championship. Assuming he can stay healthy, Allen will be the team’s best three-point shooter yet again.

Joel Anthony, C
Strengths: Shot blocking, offensive rebounding.
Weaknesses: A complete non-threat on the offensive end.
Season Prediction: Anthony keeps on finding ways to get on the court. He scraps and works hard while he’s out there, and has been a key player for the past few seasons. Anthony has played in at least 62 games each of the past three years, but the addition of Greg Oden could limit his playing time if Oden is healthy.

Chris Andersen, PF/C
Strengths: Shot blocking, energy.
Weaknesses: Limited offensively, fouls a lot.
Season Prediction: Andersen was arguably one of the most important players on the Heat last season. He was one of their few bigs, and the team played extraordinarily well with him in the lineup. He’s a hard worker on both ends, helping the team in any way possible.

Shane Battier, SF
Strengths: Three-point shooting, defense.
Weaknesses: Rebounding, free-throw shooting.
Season Prediction: Battier is the type of guy every team wants. He’s a prototypical 3-and-D guy, and is a great fit on the Heat. He struggled, mightily at times, in the playoffs and lost some time to Mike Miller, but he goes out there every night and does the little things that some fans don’t appreciate.

Michael Beasley, SF/PF
Strengths: Tons of potential.
Weaknesses: Poor decision-making, both on and off the court.
Season Prediction: Beasley will submit to the strong leadership presences in the locker room and find a role as an efficient two-way player for about 15-20 minutes per game.

Chris Bosh, PF/C
Strengths: Scoring ability, team defense.
Weaknesses: Consistency with James and Wade, rebounding.
Season Prediction: The third head of the Big Three has given up the most since joining the team. Bosh spreads the floor but will go down on the block to score some. His points and rebounds per game dropped last season, and he struggled at times getting into games. He’ll be a key cog in the Heat’s run at three straight.

Mario Chalmers, PG
Strengths: Three-point shooting, defense.
Weaknesses: Limited offensively, not a strong finisher at the rim.
Season Prediction: Chalmers will continue to be an updated version of Derek Fisher for this star-laden team. His three-point percentage has risen each of the past three seasons, so look for him to overtake the strong 40.9 percent mark he shot from deep last season. As always, he’ll play tough defense and jump passing lanes to pick-off passes.

Norris Cole, PG
Strengths: Pick-and-roll defense, quickness.
Weaknesses: Offensive efficiency, high turnover rate.
Season Prediction: The second-year guard stepped up his play in the playoffs this past season. While he’s still the backup, if Chalmers struggles, Cole could slide up into the starting five.

Udonis Haslem, PF
Strengths: Rebounding, mid-range shooting.
Weaknesses: Undersized, passing.
Season Prediction: Haslem is going into his 11th season in the league, all with the Heat. He’s won three titles, he’s been a hard worker his whole career and nothing will change this season. His veteran presence is big on the team, and his hard-nosed mentality comes in handy night in and night out.

LeBron James, SF/PF
Strengths: Play-making, most complete player in the league.
Weaknesses: Umm …
Season Prediction: Another MVP, stupid good numbers across the board. LeBron is ridiculous, and really it’s not fair to watch others try to play him. He’s leaps and bounds above everyone else and is going to continue to dominate the league.

James Jones, SF
Strengths: Three-point shooting.
Weaknesses: Everything else.
Season Prediction: Jones has struggled to see consistent playing time the last few seasons. With Michael Beasley likely taking over some of Mike Miller’s vacated minutes, Jones once again will be on the outside looking in when it comes to meaningful rotation minutes.

Rashard Lewis, SF
Strengths: Shooting.
Weaknesses: Rebounding, defense.
Season Prediction: Lewis’ playing days are slowly dwindling. He’s not going to play a whole lot of meaningful minutes unless the team suffers a lot of injuries. When he is able to find playing time, Lewis will give the defending champs another body that can spread the floor and knock down jumpers.

Greg Oden, C
Strengths: Rebounding, team defense.
Weaknesses: Biggest health liability in the league.
Season Prediction: Oden is the biggest question mark on almost any roster going into the season. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a nice player coming off the bench, possibly even starting some for the team.

Jarvis Varnado, PF
Strengths: Shot blocking, defensive rebounding.
Weaknesses: Very limited offensively.
Season Prediction: Varnado is another big body for a Heat team that was undersized for much of the last two seasons. While the second-year man will struggle to find playing time, he will add big man depth and most likely get playing time in the D-League.

Dwyane Wade, PG
Strengths: Play-making, able to score in multiple ways.
Weaknesses: Health, three-point shooting.
Season Prediction: Last season, Wade saw his scoring production dip to the lowest it’s been since his rookie season. He’s poised to bounce back, assuming he can stay healthier than he was last year. He’s playing second fiddle to LeBron still, but every superhero needs a sidekick… at least in the NBA.

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