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Can the Miami Heat win it all this season?

Jul 8, 2010, 10:56 PM EDT

ljames_points.jpgAlready you were hearing it — guys were saying it on ESPN and talk radio shows across the nation even before LeBron made his announcement.

If the Heat don’t win it all this year, it’s a failure.

That’s a bunch of manure.

Winning a championship takes a lot of things, including luck with injuries and a few bounces to go your way. It’s hard. The Heat now have a wide-open five-year window, if they get no titles in that time it will be a failure.

But they are a long way from a title this year. Even with three of the best players walking the planet on one team.

Look at the teams that were in the Finals this year — both teams had a big three. Plus the Lakers had Ron Artest (or Andrew Bynum, if you count Artest in the three) plus they brought Lamar Odom off the bench. The Celtics are really a Big Four now, and they needed Big Baby and Nate Robinson off the bench to win them one of the finals games. It takes depth to win a title.

Pat Riley was a magician to get all three of these guys in one uniform. But he has a lot of work to do. He has to build a team around these three — and do it on the cheap. If he can move Michael Beasley he will have about $1.8 million to play with after the big three sign. If not, it’s all minimum contracts from here on out.

What does he need to do? One of my favorite basketball minds — David Thorpe of ESPN — broke it down in a Q&A at TrueHoop:

They need 3-point shooters off the bench, and in the starting lineup. They don’t need a point guard, necessarily, because Wade and James are both such willing distributors. And look at the teams that have won titles in recent years. Many have not had transcendent point guards. Jason Williams, Avery Johnson, Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar … they’re not lottery picks….

And then you have got to find some centers. They don’t need to score. They just need to rebound, play defense and race the floor.

One holdover on the Heat roster, point guard Mario Chalmers, could work in the Fisher-like point guard role — an untraditional point who does not handle the ball that much. But he needs to accept that role and step up to the challenge. Last season his game regressed. He only shot 31 percent from three. With these guys, he can get good looks spacing the floor, but he has to knock down the catch-and-shoot.

There are a lot of other catch-and-shoot guys out there — the better ones cost. But good scouting (here and Europe) could find some guys the Heat might be able to afford.

Centers are a bigger problem. Solid big men who can defend and rebound get big money. Brendan Haywood just signed for six years, $55 million. Teams want to give 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal $5.8 million a year for two years. And he’s a shell of himself.

For what the Heat have to spend, they will not get much. This is where the multi-year plan comes in. They need to get younger players they can develop, Thorpe notes. Guys who may not help much in November but could in April and will next year.

But what about this year? Bosh is not a true center, he cannot bang with the bigs in the East like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal now in Boston. Not and have his knees hold up.

You can create a tempo game. You can aggressively trap. You can make it a game about aggressiveness, and those three will all have a great feel for that.

(Heat coach) Erik Spoelstra is a very bright guy. If he doesn’t have the roster for it, he’s not going to play a classic defensive scheme and get crushed. He will strategize with what he has….

This team, though, they might not have to go small. They can go unique. They can have James and Wade as the backcourt, with a couple of 6-8 athletic shooters, and Bosh, and then race the floor. That’s not a tiny lineup.

The Heat are going to be very entertaining this season. They are going to be figuring it out on the fly, and they can’t be traditional. They won’t be. We’ll see how easily egos can be set aside, especially when the inevitable rough patch comes.

But win it all this year? It takes depth to win. And that may take a year or two to build in Miami.

But it’s going to be fun to watch them get there.

  1. Grant - Jul 8, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    5 year window?
    In this media driven world, THAT is some major manure.
    They need to win NOW. They also need a coach and unless they start disastrously, Riley will not be the coach.
    Kobe and the Lakers, a pissed-off chip on their shoulder Bulls, THE DARANTULA, and one last run of a solid team-oriented Celtics stand in their way. It will not be easy, but Lebron made it seem like it should be easy.
    Win now or total failure.

  2. givetheballtopaul - Jul 9, 2010 at 12:29 AM

    Is it a given that they will all get the maximum amount of money? or could they all agree to take less and leave about $10 million to spend?

  3. Josh - Jul 9, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    I think the REAL test of how impressive this team is (or is going to be) is the reaction of Kobe Bryant. That guy wants to win championships more than any other human being on the face of the earth. So if he’s happy with the trade well then… sorry Heat.

  4. Kirk - Jul 9, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    I’m available !!!

  5. luffy - Jul 9, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    Less defense, less rebounds but more points. this is what Miami is gonna be and for that the Boston Celtics will beat their ass in the playoffs next season…
    Boston-LA finals next year, round 3 comin’up, Lakers win in 6 games to complete the 3peat…
    2012 Season…
    East Finals, Miami vs. Chicago, not sure on the outcome though…
    Wade, LBJ and Bosh or Rose, Boozer, Deng and Noah?
    Miami could get to the finals and win? Maybe,just maybe coz the OKC team could be there as well younger, better and stronger or the Lakers again, older, better and stronger…

  6. blitz4848 - Jul 9, 2010 at 9:53 AM

    @ luffy
    Every yr everyone overlooks the Magic–not their fan but I still think they will be in the mix–they play def just like the Celtics do. Milwaukee is going to the Bulls all they want if they are healthy. Don’t sell Riley short–he will put together a 12 man team. A lot of 33-35 yr old vets will want to come and win a ring for the minimum. Should be interesting in the East. Boston,
    Chicago,Milwaukee,Miami,Orlando & Atlanta are the top 6 and all the rest will fight for spots 7 & 8 in the playoffs.Should be interesting. By far the toughest div in the entire league will be
    Miami, Orl, Atl, Char & Wash. Lot of very tough road games in that div!!!

  7. Evan - Hartford - Jul 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    I find it HILARIOUS that people question the ability of this team to win a title.
    The only thing that can stop this team from winning a title are injuries. This team has made me not want to watch basketball next year. It’s not that I’m bitter, it’s that I don’t believe any team stands a chance against them.
    Everyone who thinks the Celtics or Lakers have a chance against this team have no idea what they’re talking about. Great teams don’t win NBA titles; great players win NBA titles.
    Hell, the only team I can think of to ever win an NBA championship without a top 5 player were the Detroit Pistsons.
    This is why the NBA sucks. The success of a team is based only on your superstars and their injuries (or lack thereof). The regular season is just one big joke. Your best bet is to play just well enough to make the playoffs without tiring yourself out.

  8. SBJ - Jul 9, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    James, Wade and Bosh can defer to each other based on in game performance. THey can pass more to whoever is hot in a game. Be unselfish, have more assists, rebounds, steals! Wade has the heart of a Champion! Hence, James and Bosh should follow him. Run, Run and Run! Pass, Pass and Pass! Trust each otehr and swallow the egos – keep eye on the bigger prize – NBA Chamipionship!

  9. John - Jul 9, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    @Evan: Just because you have great players is no guarantee that you’re going to win the championship. The 2004 Lakers had Kobe, Shaq, Payton and Malone and still lost 4-2 to Detroit.
    The 1969 and 1970 Lakers didn’t win a championship but had Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlin.
    Just because you have talent doesn’t mean you’re going to win it all.

  10. RastusM - Jul 9, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    ATTENTION! “All free agent cattle please report to the Eastern Conference” The Lakers path to the Finals just keeps getting easier….Yippee!

  11. William Adair - Jul 10, 2010 at 3:26 AM

    LaBron was in Cleveland 7 years, and during that time Cleveland never got the 2nd major player (or 3rd) necessay to win anNBA title. Shame on Cleveland. . . I don’t blame LaBron for leaving.

  12. Ann - Jul 11, 2010 at 4:28 AM

    Hahahaha. Thats funny. Kobe probably is in a state of DGAF. Cause honestly he doesn’t and he shouldn’t have to. Kobe’s mind is set on one thing, VICTORY. And I am not jinxing them or anything, but I am pretty damn sure he will achieve greatness. This year just proved it. And for one thing, Bosh had said he wished to be able to play for the Lakers.

  13. WILLIE - Jul 11, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    I think Fisher may join them, if L.A. doesn’t offer, what he thinks he’s worth. Imagine him there and now you’ll know they will win for sure. L.A. better come up with the money or lose him and that’s the end of a Dynasty that is or was to begin.

  14. Eric - Jul 11, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    So true couldn’t have it said better, though they should a good team.

  15. sue - Jul 21, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    well everyone’s talking out their — again i see….lakers will do it again….with pau gasol, derek fisher, kobe bryant, sasha v,shannon brown, adam whatshisname,ron artest….the entire team, sans farmar, whose ego was larger than his ears…miami heat has a bunch of pompous —–, whose egos could fill the atlantic ocean,,,get over it…LAKERS FOREVER…

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